13 May 2010

Thoughts On: Iron Man 2

A lot of Internet chuckleheads are running down Iron Man 2.  A lot of critics, too.

Their first, biggest criticism, that it's slow, makes me giggle-happy.  If there's anything I like to see, it's the attention span deficiency crowd not being catered to.  All the vertigo-inducing blockbuster crap I have to sit through, it's only fair.   And Iron Man 2's got identifiable human shit going on in it (for the most part, y'know, in a superhero movie).  Suck it up, kids.

This goes double for the chuckleheaded fan boy-only complain that the action scenes are too short, especially at the end.  I say, fantastic!  Even in films I like, I get tired with a never-ending, ever-escalating climax.  Battles between individuals yielding nuclear-powered, titanium-laced underwear should be short and decisive.  Out of concern for the sperm counts of the combatants, if for no other reason.

Mostly, people seem irked that the film aimed for nothing more than competent and contained, that it didn't shoot for epic size.  Again, I suppose one's position on such a thing depends on how much one thought of recent films that did try for epic size.  I see epic being pushed at me (by most modern filmmakers, anyway) and I recoil like a five year old from broccoli.   I'll take workmanlike any day, especially on a project that was as rushed as this one.

The acting was solid all around, with exceptions to be noted later.


 Not the bird.  The bird was in the zone.


Gripes about the film?  Sure.

The second half of the story revolves around Tony Stark's father leaving him clues about how to make a "new element".  Apart from the ridiculous coincidence that this new element is exactly what Tony needs to save his life, what was Stark Sr.'s rationale for leaving behind cryptic clues on how to fashion the shit instead of just some letters in a safety deposit box or with a family lawyer?  I have no idea, and neither will you.

Scarlet Johansson, while fine in the fight scenes and... well, just fine in general... does not, as might have been expected, come off as all that credible when she either talks tough or acts military.

As I predicted, the existence of other superheroes and the stuff going on with SHIELD and Nick Fury is left  as teasing and teasing only.  I expect more of this next summer, when Captain America and Thor come out.  It's unnecessary and timid, but then the people behind these flicks ARE movie executives.  We should be happy enough that this, and occasionally lame casting, are the most cowardly decisions they're making.

More disturbing is the tone of the SHIELD and Nick Fury material in general.  One would expect that a Sam Jackson turn as Santa Claus would include the same grim, f***-you face that Sam Jackson always uses.  Still, for some reason turns Nick Fury, the world's ultimate spy, into a sort of chirpy and not too imposing cheerleader and bureaucrat. 

Something similar goes on with the most obvious "Easter Eggs" in the film, Captain America's shield.  It shows up at one point, not with a close-up and appropriate musical sting, but as a comedic prop.  The moment doesn't become cringe-inducing (one of the reason  the Marvel films have delighted me to date is their unique lack of cringe-inducing comedy) but it doesn't help build up any anticipation either.  Why not, y'know, do that?

By the way, Don Cheadle's little, indie-movie face inside a giant metal man?  Hilarious!  (Some guys can wear a half ton of toaster parts and some guys can't, I guess.)


 A little "clank"? I most definitely did not hear a little 
"clank"... and if I did, it certainly wasn't "little"!


All in all, I'm not surprised about some of the flak Iron Man 2 is taking.  It's a lot more like The Incredible Hulk than the first Iron Man.  It's a serviceable, adult interpretation of a comic book fairy tale with strong action and not-embarrassed performers.  It's not trying to pass itself off as any more than that.

Heck, neither was the first one.  I think a lot of people were just so surprised by it.  No surprises here.