Sunday, May 9, 2010

A few kinks to iron out

While Iron Man 2 has much of the same type of excitement and witty charm from Robert Downey Jr. as its predecessor, there is a lengthy section in the middle, devoid of action, which hits the theater with a thud off dullness.
This, along with a foible among many comic-book movie sequels of trying to fit in too many characters and therefore not having the time to adequately address them, makes for a film leaving the audience wanting more, but only because there isn’t a large enough helping to begin with.
Downey is perfect in the role and despite playing Tony Stark as a self-absorbed playboy, manages to maintain the character’s likeability and when he’s onscreen it’s a delight. The supporting cast is strong too, as Mickey Rourke plays Whiplash with a quiet, reserved menace, speaking only when necessary and plotting revenge against Stark in between. Scarlett Johansson smolders as Black Widow, a stealthy secret agent in the employ of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who appeared briefly following the end credits of Iron Man. Sam Rockwell is a blast in another one of his signature sleazy roles as an arms dealer trying to duplicate the Iron Man technology for military use. Jackson’s appearance in the film appears to be two-fold. First, it continues to lay the groundwork for an upcoming superhero movie called The Avengers and the other is to allow him to engage in one of his patented banter sequences. Across the table from Stark in a diner, he speaks in his loud-voiced, hyperbolic intonation, which was funny and unique years back, but is now in the realm of self-parody. I don’t recall the specifics of the conversation because the scene serves more as an unintended distraction than a propelling of the story. Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts, Stark’s most trusted confidante and Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James Rhodes, who later dons a specialized suit and becomes War Machine. None of the characters are entirely unnecessary, but with so many of them, they aren’t allowed to thrive. When Johansson finally is allowed to demonstrate Black Widow’s hand-to-hand combat skill during the film’s climactic sequence, it is exciting, but is too little too late.
This isn’t to say Iron Man 2 is an overall disappointing experience, but it does leave one with the feeling it could have been so much more.

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