MOVIE REVIEW: Iron Man 2
Yeah, yeah, it’s three months late. That’s besides the point. I promised my brother I’d review this after I dragged him to see this movie, but I didn’t have an outlet at the time to post it to. Now I do, so let’s begin. This review will contain massive spoilers, which works out well, as most people interested have already seen it.
- Tony Screws with a Senator: The scenes at the beginning and end of the movie where Tony Stark is bantering with Senator Stern are probably the scenes in the movie where Tony’s personality shines the most. He’s charming and charismatic in these scenes, just as you remember him from Iron Man 1. Unfortunately, these are also some of the few scenes in this movie where Tony Stark is actually likable. Considering Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark was the high point of Iron Man 1, this is a very bad omen…
- The War Machine Armor: The War Machine armor itself looks great and carries some devastatingly awesome heavy-ordinance. The scenes where the War Machine armor is fighting are certainly the most exciting action sequences in either Iron Man movie. I couldn’t have asked for much more out of the armor. Note that I haven’t mentioned the man in the armor. More on that later on.
- Nick Fury: I’m a total mark for Samuel L. Jackson. It’s a shame they wasted the scene with him at the doughnut shop in the trailer, but he actually gets more screentime than I expected. He does a whole lot of nothing (and I mean nothing), but damn Sam Jackson is cool.
- Pepper’s Promotion: The idea of Tony Stark appointing his secretary, who also happens to be his lover, to CEO of Stark Industries screams sexual harassment to me, but whatever. On paper, I hate the idea of this. Pepper shouldn’t be qualified to be CEO of a company–there’s a reason why she was hired to be a secretary and not an executive, after all. However, seeing Pepper desperately try–and fail–at this position really worked for me. It’s still stupid–but it sorta worked for me.
- The Black Widow Strikes… Sorta: If Russian super-spy Black Widow hadn’t been in this movie, what would have changed? Pretty much nothing, other than less teenage guys buying tickets to watch it. Black Widow existed in this movie to be a hot chick and to have a one-minute martial-arts sequence to show off her body. They stuck her on the movie poster to make guys want to come to the movie and stare at her body. That’s it. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s not compelling either. And for a movie with as many flaws as this one, the time and money used here could have been better spent developing something else–like a cohesive plot.
- The Final Showdown: Whiplash shows up in a giant suit of armor to fight War Machine and Iron Man in the climactic battle, before being quickly dispatched. As in, in like 20 seconds. Now, considering that Whiplash was able to safely and securely control the drones from home, there was really no reason for him to ever put himself in danger going out here in the first place. And even if he was just stupid, the manner is which he’s defeated is even stupider–Iron Man and War Machine combine their repulsor blasts to create a big explosion that wipes out Whiplash. Now, we saw this earlier in the movie in the mansion, and neither Tony nor Rhodey were hurt by the effect–just repelled. The mansion didn’t really seem to suffer any damage either. And yet, super-genius Whiplash who looks to be in a much larger, more defensive armor, is instantly taken out by the attack. Okay… But–BUT!! It must have been all part of his evil genius plan all along, because he spits out “You lose!” to Tony, who is then instantly somehow alerted to…
- Pepper’s Peril and Whiplash’s Ineptitude: The army of drones Whiplash built to kill Iron Man (which I haven’t even mentioned in this review since they were totally ineffectual and did absolutely nothing except die) are scattered around the city where they were trashed by Iron Man and War Machine. Whiplash activates the self-destruct button on the drones, to take his final revenge on Tony Stark. By destroying the Stark Expo? NO!! Whiplash secretly planned that not only would he be defeated and yet still alive and physically able to activate the self-destruction of the drones, but he also knew somehow that Pepper would stay in the city, and go and stand near a drone so she could be killed in the explosion! But that’s not all! You might think Whiplash would set the drones to self-destruct immediately, but he installed a countdown-timer-of-evilness in the drones so that there would be second before they would explode!! Why, you ask? Why, so that Tony could use his hither unseen psychic abilities to not only know Pepper was in danger, but also psychically determine where she was at in the city, and fly directly to her in seconds and fly her away before the drones could explode inflicting absolutely no harm or damage on Tony’s life in any way! Say what you will about Whiplash, but at least he’s an evil psychopath who gives his hated archenemy a fair chance of not having to suffer any loss or pain. What a swell villain.
- The Origin of Whiplash: Angry over the injustice of his father’s life and death, Whiplash busts out the blueprints used for the arc reactor which his father designed before being booted from the company by Tony’s dad. And there, in his run-down home workshop in the middle of a slum with broken-down tools and materials and no prior experience with said blueprints, Whiplash quickly and without incident builds his own arc reactor to power his energy suit of whippy electric death. Yes, what took Tony Stark a lifetime of planning and ideas and millions if not billions of dollars to create with the finest tools and facilities on Earth, Whiplash did in a week in his basement with pretty much nothing. It’s really too bad Whiplash dies, because I would’ve liked to loan him my Star Wars Blueprints book and give him fifty bucks to have him whip me up a TIE Fighter to fly around.
- Stark Expo: Let me see if I understand this correctly. Stark Industries is a company that makes weapons. Tony Stark withdrew Stark Industries from making weapons. Now in this movie, Stark Industries is having a YEAR-LONG CITY-SIZED EXPO. Wait, what? To do what? With who? Who the hell is attending this year-long expo? And why? And what city did Stark Industries kick all of the residents and businesses out of in order to have an entire city free for this Expo? What does Stark Enterprises even make now, if not weapons?? I watched this entire movie, and I don’t know. How the hell is Stark Enterprises even still in business?? No wonder Tony Stark appointed his secretary President of the Company–anyone could run the company better than him.
- Watermelons: Tony is dying of some mysterious illness and it drives him to console himself the way that only Tony can: by getting totally wasted at a racy party and dancing around in his armor, while having scantily-clad women throw watermelons in the air to be blown up by drunken Tony’s clumsy repulsor blasts. This scene reminded me of Emo-Peter’s swagger and dance scenes from Spider-Man 3: embarrassing and painful to watch. This whole scene seemed poorly thought-out, and existed solely for the purchase of leading into…
- Tony and Rhodey’s “Epic” Brawl: To stop Tony’s drunken antics, Comedic Sidekick Black Guy hops into the Mark II Iron Man armor which he somehow intuitively knows exactly how to operate, and then has a brawl with Tony and destroys half the mansion before flying off with the suit. Rhodey’s betrayal of Tony could and should have come off as dramatic if not emotional, but it was neither because it was wrapped within this ridiculous comedy throwdown. This whole fiasco was just sad.
- The Parrot: After being saved from jail by the gooftastic Justin Hammer, Whiplash has one request for Hammer: send for his beloved parrot from Russia. So Justin Hammer, billionaire who desperately needs Whiplash’s technical genius, does exactly what you’d expect: buys a different parrot and pisses Whiplash off trying to pass it off as the real parrot. Yes, Justin Hammer, weapons supplier billionaire, couldn’t afford to have someone fly over and pick up a parrot to please his extremely important employee. Dumber still, Whiplash has a fit about this but in a later scene is totally happy and having bonded with said counterfeit parrot. Why include this subplot at all if it wasn’t going to go anywhere except toward a meaningless, nonsensical resolution?
- Comedic Sidekick Black Guy: You may have seen Comedic Sidekick Black Guy in such movies as GI Joe and Rush Hour. Well, if you liked him there, you’ll love him here in Iron Man 2! Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the writers that Jim Rhodes, War Machine, is a disciplined military hardass who occasionally cracks a joke and not Ripcord from “GI Joe”. The director clearly made a conscious decision to shoehorn a potentially-great character into a racial stereotype that audience would be familiar with. If you liked Terrence Howard’s acceptable portrayal of Jim Rhodes in Iron Man 1 you’re out of luck, because he’s been replaced by zany clown Don Cheadle here. Aside from being racist, this interpretation of Jim Rhodes comes off as inauthentic, awkward, and poorly acted. Considering that War Machine was the main marketing selling-point for this movie, this complete and utter caricaturization of the character is utterly unforgivable.
- Tony Creates a Brand-New Element: One of the many underdeveloped subplots in this movie is the fact that Tony Stark is dying, poisoned by the palladium core of the arc reactor that serves as his heart. Tony copes with the situation by revealing it to no one, getting drunk all the time, and being an all-around jackass. However, he later realizes that the diorama of the 1974 Stark Expo is actually a diagram of the structure of a new element Tony’s father had envisioned, which has the capability of serving as Tony’s new heart without any detrimental side effects. Confused? You should be. Why would Tony’s father have secretly developed this element and left no hints or evidence other than a diorama which would almost certainly never be suspected of being anything but a diorama since it’s, you know, a diorama? How could Tony’s father have possibly known that the necessity of this element was so great that Tony’s continued life would depend upon it? Why would Tony’s father make such a monumental scientific breakthrough and then hide it from the world? No answers are offered, nor is it likely that the writer/director have any in mind. They probably figured no one would care, and in fact audiences would be distracted by Tony attempting to synthesize the element, only to be told by his computer that synthesis of said element is impossible. A minute later and after using Captain America’s shield as a level, Tony has synthesized an all-new element. How? Again, no answers are given. Why? Because it’s half-assed and ridiculous, and the director would rather ignore the point altogether than try to create any kind of coherent explanation. If the director doesn’t respect the audience enough to offer any kind of intelligent resolution, then I don’t see any reason to respect the movie as anything more than senseless garbage.
Overall: I’ll be blunt–This was not a good movie. I am not the type of person who will pretend a movie is good because it’s “popular” or “trendy” or “had pretty special effects”. This movie sucked. The plot was poorly contrived, the characters were implausible, and it was very clear that Marvel was trying to cover up all of this movie’s shortcomings by throwing truckloads of money and glaringly obvious “in-jokes” at it. Note to Marvel: Throwing in cameos for Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer does not redeem a shitty movie, even if it does trick many movie-goers into leaving thinking that they’ve seen something worthwhile. I wanted to give this movie an “F”, but I like to reserve that grade for movies I can’t bring myself to sit through. As it stands, look out Spider-Man 3, because you’ve suddenly got new competition for worst superhero movie ever. I think that speaks for itself.