Thursday, May 13, 2010

Higgens Network: Iron Man 2

It’s so rare and refreshing to look forward to a sequel. Normally Hollywood just makes one without asking if anyone is interested. (Are people actually clambering for a Men in Black 3? Don’t worry; it’s going to be in 3D.) When the first Iron Man ended and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) announced to the world that he was metal superhero, I was sold. The first movie was so much fun and this ending promised we’re not going to see the overdone storylines about duality and secret identities.

So did Iron Man 2 accomplish the unlikely and make a good sequel? Yep. The first one is not a perfect film and neither is this one, but what’s important is that they are both really entertaining movies. As all sequels do, this one takes the story and makes it bigger. Unlike other movies the “bigger” aspect is not through a ton of villains but giving Tony Stark more problems and making his world larger.

Thanks to the Iron Man technology, the world appears to be more stable. No one can match Stark Technologies. This ego boost is making Stark more reckless as he mocks a senate committee among other things. The truth of the matter is that he’s quickly dying. His blood is being poisoned by his own technology and he can’t find a cure. Across the world, a Russian madman named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has perfected his own suit and vows revenge on the Stark family. He comes to America and attacks Iron Man further breaking apart Tony Stark.

What makes Iron Man such a refreshing series is that Tony Stark is as interesting (if not more so) than Iron Man. So the audience is not just waiting for the next action scene. That’s a very good thing because the action scenes in Iron Man 2 aren’t that great. Director Jon Favreau has a gift with comedic and emotional timing, but he still hasn’t perfected how to pace a good action scene. Too many of those scenes are too short and are too easy.

Luckily that is just a small part of the movie. The real crux is Tony’s stability with everything. Throughout the movie his real friends start to doubt him especially Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Lt. “Rhodey” (Don Cheadle). I wish the film was longer and was able to explore that evolution/devolution of those characters. There was just enough time dealing with more steps towards the 2012 Avengers movie by reintroducing Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson). I also hope this isn’t the last time we see Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). The humor is so strong with Rockwell and he plays this character so well. Hammer is Tony Stark without any of the genius or the scientific ambition.

I like how this series is dealing with different territory than the other ones in the series. Its new themes of legacy and technology are handled well but it never exhausts itself with them. The movie is still very funny thanks primarily to Downey Jr., Rockwell, and even Favreau who plays Stark’s bodyguard. This series shows that you can still be entertaining and intelligent without resorting to being too dark. Just like the ending to the first, I’m left wanting more. I can’t wait to see the next chapter in this expanded Marvel universe with Thor next summer.

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