Fri, Apr 30, 2010 - Page 16 News List

FILM REVIEW: ‘Iron Man 2’ brings out the big guns

Everything original about ‘Iron Man’ has been replaced in the sequel by noise, multiple villains and confused story lines

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

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Iron Man generated a good deal of support from lovers of superhero movies when it came out in 2008 because it has some claim to originality and to have suited the unusual (and often annoying) acting talent of Robert Downey Jr. It is therefore not surprising that Iron Man 2 is now upon us.

The sequel shows all the worst symptoms of terminal sequel-itis, making up for an absence of ideas with bigger guns, more exotic locations, deeper cleavages, and faster jump cuts. And did I mention bigger guns, many, many more

of them.

The story picks up with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), now publicly acknowledged as Ironman, enforcing world peace though the use of his amazing metal suit. Everyone wants a piece of this technology, but Stark is not willing to share. He knows only too well what might become of this technology if it gets into the wrong hands; and this includes those of the US military.

The role of world savior weighs heavily on Stark, but he still wants to party. The US military and business rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) want to take things into their own hands. Then there is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a Russian physicist who wants revenge on Stark, believing that Stark’s father stole ideals from Vanko’s Russian emigre father before having him deported back to the gulag. There is potential in this conceit, as there is in the privatization of international peacekeeping, but Favreau is too busy coloring in the boxes in a painting-by-numbers action film to fill in these finer details.

Worried that his treatment of these ideas produces a hollow sound, Favreau seems to feel pressed to add plot line over plot line, seemingly in the hope that in the ensuing tangle, the audience will forget that nothing about this movie makes any kind of sense. The introduction of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and the whole SHIELD sup-plot, though part of the Marvel Comics universe, to the uninitiated managed to seem like an afterthought, so poorly was it integrated into the story.

FESTIVAL NOTES

IRON MAN 2

DIRECTED BY:

JON FAVREAU

STARRING:

ROBERT DOWNEY JR (TONY STARK), GWYNETH PALTROW (PEPPER POTTS), DON CHEADLE (LIEUTENANT COLONEL JAMES ‘RHODEY’ RHODES), SCARLETT JOHANSSON (NATALIE RUSHMAN/NATASHA ROMANOFF), SAM ROCKWELL (JUSTIN HAMMER), MICKEY ROURKE (IVAN VANKO), SAMUEL L. JACKSON (NICK FURY)

RUNNING TIME:

124 MINUTES

TAIWAN RELEASE:

CURRENTLY SHOWING


Tony Stark is also facing his own demise as the power source for Ironman gradually poisons his blood. Genius that he is, he works out how to save himself and the Ironman franchise, synthesizing a new element with the help of some air-conditioner ducts and a laser pointer. He succeeds in doing this only seconds after his supercomputer tells him that the task is impossible. Even in the make-believe world of superheroes, where there are no limits and everything is possible, the story loses its purpose and the characters any claim on our sympathies.

Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer is one of the few bright spots, producing a comic villain who counter-balances the self-conscious flippancy that passes for humor with Downey. Gwyneth Paltrow as the demurely dressed Pepper Potts is not sufficient crumpet for the lads who are the film’s main target, so Scarlett Johansson has been brought in to show a bit of stocking. In her dual role of Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff, she is in the film to flaunt her curves and dash about in a black bodysuit. Johansson proves herself an utterly inept action star, while Rourke’s all-too-brief return to form in the indie flick The Wrestler is revealed to have been a flash in the pan. As the villain-in-chief, he provides lots of grimacing, but no real sense of menace.

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