Iron Man 2
Sequels naturally occur whenever a film is a financial success. This axiom is especially true when it comes to those films that look to their origins in the pages of comic books. Comics and graphic novels have become the go-to source for movies for special effects-driven action movies that can exceed the producer’s wildest dreams when it comes to a financial return on their investment. While these movies may have budgets around $100 million the domestic and global box office in combination with DVD sales, marketing, and cable fees can approach the billion-dollar mark. The old rivalries between the two dominate comic book companies; Marvel and DC have been reignited going head to head for the box office stakes. While DC held the advantage with ‘Superman’ and ‘Batman’ the superheroes and villains that populated the Marvel universe was much more complicated emotionally facing not only the epic battle between good and evil but dealing with the usual problems common to us all. The Marvel universe had people in it, real identifiable fully developed human beings. The problem has always been the technical difficulties in bringing the Marvel Parthenon to life on the big screen. Marvel tended towards more imaginative abilities that required the incredible current level of computer-driven special effects to depict realistically. One of the most recent Marvel character to hit the theaters is ‘Iron Man’ setting records with the first installment of this story. It was a foregone conclusion that there would be a sequel, but in this case, there is another driving reason. Marvel is building up to a tour de force and a real treat for Marvel fans; the coming of ‘The Avengers’ a collection of Marvel’s most popular characters. As for the sequel ‘Iron Man 2’, it followed one of the best received comic movies in history. Although it is a solid, exciting piece of entertainment is comes up a bit flawed, just below the exceptionally high bar set by the original.
Part of the reason the film just missed the high water mark left by the original is the change of focus in the script. The origin story was handled by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. Previously they elaborated on the more dramatically focused ‘Consequence’ and the dystrophic ‘Children of Men.' They crafted a story of a man who had everything but lost himself. The character of billionaire Tony Stark, so incredibly portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., had its strength in being a story of a man’s redemption and personal reinvention. Considering the actor’s well-publicized personal turmoil, the performance transcended any I have ever seen in a comic based film affording the genre an unheard of credibility. Usually, the superhero story is the weakest in a comic based franchise but not in the case of Iron Man. For the sequel, the scripting fell to a very talented writer, Justin Theroux. His only previous screenplay for a feature film; ‘Tropic Thunder’ although an extremely well-written film it was a satire not an examination of a man’s inner turmoil. Theroux turned fast, action-filled script, but it lacked the infusion of gravitas present in the first film. Besides the diminished emotional connection in this story, Theroux fell into what has become the curse of the superhero sequel, multiple villains. This trend started in the ‘Batman’ franchise but not, as you might think, the eighties films. The overly camp flick based on the sixties TV Batman upped the ante to four villains. The villains here do afford diversity to the action at the price of diluting the focal point of the underlying story.
Providing some degree of continuity to the proceeding is the choice of director; Jon Favreau. He may not be the most prolific director on the scene, but he certainly ranks up there with those with a distinctive style. As with the previous movie Favreau has straightforward approach here quickly re-establishing the basic characters, introducing the new ones including the villain and femme fatale moving directly into what everyone came to see, amazing special effects and heart-pounding action.
The film picks up exactly where the previous movie left off only from a slightly different vantage point. Tony Stark (Downey) has just shocked the world with his disclosure that he is the armor-clad hero the media has dubbed ‘Iron Man.' Watching this media event in Russia is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) whose father Anton Vanko (Yevgeni Lazarev) has recently died. Vanko diligently works on his variation of Stark’s technology while the United States government pressures Stark to turn over the Iron Man designs to the military. Unbeknownst to anyone the palladium used in the reactor implanted in his chest is toxic and is gradually killing him. Stark reverts to his reckless ways much to the chagrin of those closest to him it looks like Stark has a death wish. He transfers the position of CEO of Stark Industry to his assistant and confidant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) transferring Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) to fill her position. After this set up the action becomes close to non-stop with pulse-pounding intensity. Vanko uses his version of the reactor to power some mighty deadly force field whips showing off the CGI and soundstage to full advantage. Tying Iron Man firmly in place in the Marvel "universe and continuing the bridge that will culminate with the ‘Avengers’ is the introduction of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D. this covert organization will eventually bind the separate super characters. Then there is the need for some sex appeal. As it turns out Natalie Rushman is the deep cover enemy agent Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. Let’s face it Johansson in a skin-tight outfit is not exactly going to hurt the movie’s popularity. Be sure to keep watching the final credits roll; there is a little nod the next part of the Avengers incentive.
This movie cries out to be seen on Blu-ray. The video is something that will turn your neighbors green with envy. The level of detail brings realism to the screen then you could imagine. When combined with the eight channels audio enfolds the room assaulting the scenes from every direction. There are several ways to get this film with the usual DVD and Blu-ray with regular and deluxe packs in both formats. Target also has a vendor-specific edition with collectible packaging.
Posted 09/26/2010 11/27/2017