Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #21 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. Since we’ve talked about the awesomeness of Iron Man now I’m going to talk about its much weaker sequel, Iron Man 2.
It’s incredible how much can change in two years right? Iron Man was an amazing film in 2008 and the Iron Man 2 comes out in 2010 and just fails to be as good as its predecessor. The general consensus from fans and critics about this film was that it was disappointing, and that holds true until this day. I remember seeing this film in the cinema and at first thinking that it was better than the last one, but after watching it another two times I started to notice it’s many problems and each time I watched it after thats it got worse and worse. So today I’ve checked it out again so let’s see what I think of it now in this review.
The plot takes place six months after the events of Iron Man, where Tony Stark has revealed his identity as Iron Man and is resisting calls by the United States government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, rogue Russian scientist Ivan Vanko has developed the same technology and built weapons of his own in order to pursue a vendetta against the Stark family, and in the process joining forces with Stark’s business rival, Justin Hammer.
The story in this film had little moments of quality like Tony’s palladium core slowly poisoning him, the government wanting to take away Tony’s armour away and the inclusion of Tony’s father via old movies. But the problem is that those elements along with the rest of the film are terribly executed with a too many plot points to follow, the shoe-horned appearance from S.H.I.E.L.D., the butchered treatment of Ivan Vanko and the unnecessary amount of humour in the film which dilutes any of emotional material the story had going for itself. I really wish that there was a better balance between humour and seriousness because a lot of the time the film feels the need to be funny and it gets annoying at points where you’re wondering why the hell all of this random stuff is going on. If the plot in this film was a little more focused and had one consistent villain throughout instead of two useless ones then it would have been much better.
Now let’s talk about the cast. Firstly we have Robert Downey, Jr. who is still doing it as Tony Stark/Iron Man. RDJ still retains all the great qualities about Tony that we came to love in the first film, he’s that likeable asshole who is funny, witty, arrogant and cool. But in this film he has his low moments, has issues with drinking and the fact that he’s dying too. But the more dramatic moments are bogged down by a lot of new stupid moments like when Tony’s constantly cracking jokes or is drunk in the Iron Man suit at his party (that was just painful to watch). Gwyneth Paltrow is still witty, humourous and beautiful as Virginia ‘Pepper’ Potts, but in this film she is just a bit of a nag, always complaining and being at odds with Tony. I know because her new position as CEO of Stark Industries and Tony’s secrets it causes her a bit of stress but she was fairly frustrating, luckily the chemistry and banter between Stark and Potts is one of the better aspects of the film.
Now let’s talk about Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes. To be honest when I first saw Cheadle’s version of Rhodey, I hated it, the guy was a total stick in the in mud, was always so bloody serious and very different from the more understanding and enjoyable version that Terrence Howard brought to the film beforehand. Here there was no chemistry between Rhodey and Stark besides a few moments towards the latter half of the film, but overall I wasn’t keen on Cheadle at all. Next there’s Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Firstly may I say that Scarlett Johansson is one of the hottest women in this history of existence and to see her in this film made gave my eyes so many moments of joy. Johansson’s beauty alone is enough to give this film a watch, but besides that, she played an interesting interpretation of the Widow character who could kick ass, was calm, assertive and didn’t mess around. She was really cool and slick in not only her action scenes but also posing as secret S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, I only wish her character had more to do and had more references to her Russian comic book origins.
Then there’s villain number one in the shape of Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. This guy was pretty much a joke for the most part, its hard to take him seriously as a rival weapons manufacturer when he’s joking around so much, has no good personality traits and most of the stuff he’s built is useless when compared to Tony Stark. Though I will give Rockwell credit because of his character’s overly charismatic nature is actually kind of funny for all the wrong reasons, oh and his introduction during Stark Expo when he comes on stage dancing to “Pick Up The Pieces” by Average White Band, that was frigging awesome. And then there’s villain number two in the form of Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko. Honestly I also hated this guy, he’s supposed to be this super smart villain who knows about the arc reactor technology and yet he doesn’t come across a threat too much. When talks to people he barely sounds intelligent and when he goes into battle he’s no tactian. Vanko just comes across as a muscle-bound thug who knows a few things about science. There’s nothing complex or interesting about his character, he’s just plain and boring. And I still don’t why the people who made this film thought it’d be a good idea to fuse the characters of Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo together. No we’ll never see a proper Crimson Dynamo villain for ages!
Also Samuel L. Jackson makes more of an appearance as Nick Fury in this film, Jackson was fine but rather than giving us a more serious character we got a bit of Sam L. Jackson being Sam L. Jackson. And lastly it was nice to see the return of Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, but it was even more awesome to see the return of Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson! (LEGEND!)
Now let’s talk about the presentation. For the most part the film offered up some good spectacle and action sequences with cool special effects. The best points for action was seeing Black Widow taking out bad guys, the Iron Man and iron drone chase sequence and the fight scene with Iron Man and War Machine basically wrecking shop and destroying all of those robots. Though the CGI wasn’t as sharp and detailed as it was in the previous film especially near the end of the film with all the iron drones flying around, they were very blurry and lacking in detail. As for the soundtrack by John Debney it’s not bad but it doesn’t have nearly as much charisma and style as the previous film, and fails to leave an impact. However on the upside there are loads more AC/DC songs in this film and it really work well in the film.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? Well from what I’ve seen there were a lot of changes made to the characters in this film, from Justin Hammer being changed from an old serious Englishman to a younger, funnier American person to Mickey Rourke becoming a fusion of the Crimson Dynamo’s alter ego and the villain Whiplash. Also the film takes elements of the “Demon in a Bottle” story arc from the comics but doesn’t fully capitalize on the source material, therefore making Tony’s drinking in the film kind of pointless. The creation of War Machine was also great altered too.
So to conclude Iron Man 2 wanted to do up its game and do a great job, but in the end it ended up trying to do too much and fell under the height of its own material. On top of a story that isn’t as interesting as the previous one with inconsistencies, bad decisions and a poor attempt at adapting one of the Iron Man comic book stories. There are some redeeming factors like the action sequences, and the performances from Downey Jr., Paltrow and Johansson, but otherwise this film is just a disappointing film.
Rating: 6/10 (A painful step backwards in this film series)
So there’s my review people, only 9 more to go. So have you seen Iron Man 2 and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!