Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Iron Man 2

I’ve got to say, my favorite genre of film is horror. I can watch a horror movie any time of the year, whether it’s in the morning or afternoon or, preferably, at night. I long for Halloween because there’s usually a smorgasbord of horror movies on the tube and I usually watch the ones I don’t have on DVD and line up a bunch of them to view continually throughout October.

Once again, I digress.

My second favorite genre of movies is probably, and more accurately, a sub-genre of action movies—comic book movies.

After years of collecting DVDs, my wife grew tired of seeing all the different colors of movie covers in our bookshelf. She suggested that I inter the discs and covers into a DVD binder, doing away with the plastic cases and saving space on our shelf. Not long after doing this, my binder count is up to 25, with each binder holding 20 movies. That means I have around 500 titles in our bookshelf. Of course, maybe 2% of those movies are my wife’s, but the rest are all mine.

Two of those binders are dedicated to my second favorite genre—or first favorite sub-genre—comic book movies. A good portion of one of the binders is growing with the Marvel Studios films that tie into my upcoming Blu-Ray, The Avengers (I already have a spot saved for it).

Before The Avengers came out back in May, I sat at home and watched the films that led up to it, so I can have the characters’ stories fresh in my mind. Seeing that the Blu-Ray is probably coming out in September, I decided to do it again (although it might be a little premature since it’s still more than a month away). But after watching the first Iron Man film and The Incredible Hulk, I ventured into the next Marvel Studios film leading to The AvengersIron Man 2.

Sorry for the long-windedness in getting to this point, but let’s move on and get into my thoughts on the film.

To synopsize the film, we open with the ending of Iron Man, or at least the audio of that press conference that ends the first movie. The scene takes place in Russia and it opens with an old man, Anton Vanko, clearly very sick, who is lying in bed and watching said press conference. As he’s about to die, he calls over his son, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) and tells him he’s given him all his knowledge that the Starks have robbed from him. As he passes, we get a terrific performance from Rourke as he believably portrays a grief-stricken son, showing the anguish in his face, as well as obvious anger toward the man on TV—Tony Stark. In the next scene, we’re treated to a montage of Ivan, going over plans and schematics (bearing the Stark Industries name, as well as Anton Vanko), as he proceeds to build a similar arc reactor that Tony Stark built for himself. But at the end of the scene, we see that Ivan Vanko has made some type of electric whip devices before the scene blacks out and the Iron Man 2 title appears.

We then cut to Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), as Iron Man, jumping from a military aircraft with AC/DC’s “Shoot To Thrill” accompanying the scene, as he flies threw fireworks (and getting hit by one) and down into the Stark Expo. Once on stage, he demonstrates how he’s disassembled and goes on to host the opening of the show. As he introduces a 1974 film of his father, he takes a break to go back stage and we see that he’s testing his blood, the reading showing his blood toxicity level is at 17% (if memory serves me correctly). At this point of the story, it isn’t clear why there are toxins in his blood, but we come to find out later that the palladium in his miniature arc reactor is slowly poisoning Tony.

Later, Tony summoned to appear before a senate hearing regarding his Iron Man suit and how he should release it to the government as a weapon. That’s where we meet Justin Hammer, a counterpart (albeit inferior counterpart) to Tony Stark. He’s called in before the senate as a weapons expert. The scene, as most in this film, is very entertaining, showcasing the humoristic zings between Tony Stark and Senator Stern (Garry Shandling).

As the story moves on, we see that Tony’s blood toxicity rises dramatically as he fights it, unaffectedly, with some sort of green liquid that he drinks constantly. Perhaps as a result of this, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is given control of Stark Industries as Tony has made her CEO, following an introduction to Scarlett Johansson’s character of Natasha Romanoff—the Black Widow from S.H.I.E.L.D.—posing as Natalie Rushman, a new notary assistant to Ms. Potts.

Later, Tony, et al, go to Monaco to attend a Formula One race, as one of the cars is sponsored by Stark Industries. They all get together in a nearby restaurant, where Justin Hammer, coincidentally, is present as well. Not surprisingly, and to get away from Hammer, Tony suits up in racing gear to drive the Stark car himself. This is where Ivan Vanko—Whiplash (although he’s never called this in the movie)—confronts Stark for the very first time.

As the confrontation is seen on television, viewed by everybody in the restaurant, Pepper gets Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and has him drive to the track, making sure they bring a metal case that has the same colors as Iron Man’s armor. They get there in the nick of time and save Stark from Vanko, giving him this case that turns out to be Stark’s mobile Iron Man armor (which is a pretty cool special effects shot). Again, just in time, because Vanko wasn’t out for the count when Happy slams into him twice with the car (one part I clearly didn’t get—how can he survive that?). Iron Man prevails and Vanko goes to jail in France, only to have Hammer help him bust out seeking revenge on Stark.

Without going further into the story, there are a lot of great surprises and performances here. Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, with a bigger part, I might add. He’s actually an integral part in helping Stark with the palladium poisoning from the arc reactor. And let’s not forget Don Cheadle taking over the role of Rhodes from Terrance Howard. I thought he gave the character more life and there was a lot better chemistry between him and Downey, especially when they fight side by side as Iron man and War Machine (awesome).

Everything was enjoyable in this film and I don’t have many complaints. If there was anything I can complain about was how quick and simple the ending was and how it was resolved. But there were a few winks here and there us comic book fans can appreciate, like the appearance of Captain America’s shield, or replica thereof.

Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing how far Marvel Studios can go with this universe they’ve created. Hopefully they can introduce more characters to the group and retain other heroes’ rights currently owned by other movie studios. I mean, come on! Spider-Man should be a part of this universe! They’ve already ruined the character by rebooting a successful franchise with a shoddy retelling of a story we saw a mere decade ago (see my July 9th review)!

Well, what’s my final “bit” on Iron Man 2?

Great comedic moments, some dramatic acts, a lot of kick-ass scenes, all made for an awesome film!

By the way, don’t forget to wait for that extra scene!

Thanks for reading!

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