Showing posts with label Iron Man. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iron Man. Show all posts

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Avengers Assemble: Iron Man (2008)

In the run up to this summer's Avengers movie, Jamie and I are going to be watching the individual superhero movies that will take us right up to the big team-up picture.  Its a lot of flicks.  The Alamo will be running a marathon, but I just can't see myself sitting through what has to be roughly 12 hours of Marvel action of movies I've seen already multiple times.

  • Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor 
  • Captain America
That doesn't mean I don't actually quite like most of the movies, but...  I dunno.  The Planet of the Apes marathon was just truly something Ahab-like that I felt I had to do once in my life.  Now, if they screened all the Superman movies...  now we're talking.

Iron Man (2008) still holds up remarkably well, even if this was the first time I wondered why the 10 Rings terrorist association wanted Tony Stark to build the missile rather than kill him as Obadbiah Stane had requested to garner goodwill and maybe get those Jericho missiles off a truck.

Looking at Iron Man and comparing it to DC's attempt to launch a hydra-headed franchise like Avengers with Green Lantern, its a reminder that WB and DCE are really, really bad at all this, and there's no reason to think that they won't really mess up the upcoming Superman film, Man of Steel.  DC's answer to a cocksure hero like Tony Stark didn't work with the Ryan Reynold's "I'm a loveable goof" take on Hal Jordan, a terrible costume and pretty much no motivation for our hero or the audience to embrace.

Iron Man was actually such a trick and gave such a clear arc to Tony Stark as a character that trying to repeat the narrative success in the sequel didn't really take.  I recall not being exactly bored during Iron Man 2, but also knowing that they were going to learn a lot about what was missing for when they wrote the third installment.

May I also add:  I really like Gwyneth Paltrow in this movie.  I can genuinely say I never thought I'd give a damn about Pepper Potts, but I like her understated performance.  She isn't given that much to do in this boy's own adventure, but she manages to do a lot with what's on the page and feel like a bit more than the girlfriend-in-trouble that Kirsten Dunst got stuck playing over three Spidey movies.  Her scenes with Robert Downey Jr.'s force of nature Tony Stark feel terribly natural in the work-wife sort of vibe, and the dialog just works (see: the scene where she has to swap out Tony's batteries).  It goes a long way.

And, of course, Jeff Bridges as a super-villain?  This movie is just terribly well cast all the way down the line, including Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, everyone's favorite G-Man.

Its a fun movie, even if it boils down to mad-scientist antics and two dudes slugging it out on a rooftop and goofing on a bit of BS for the conclusion to their spat (I am sure one can read all sorts of symbolism into the Arc Generator killing Stane, but I doubt 1 in 20 filmgoers found themselves weeping at all the lovely irony).  

On to The Incredible Hulk and Liv Tyler.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Movie Watching: Iron Man 2

So, a week or so back the reviews began to hit the internet for Iron Man 2, the sequel to the 2008 surprise hit for Marvel Studios. The reviews were mixed. In fact, somehow the fact that reviewers were not joining forces to give us early warnings about what level of awesomeness to which we should calibrate ourselves became a story unto itself. It seemed that not everyone felt Robert Downey Jr. and Co. had lived up to the expectations.

On Sunday, I caught the sequel, and I am suspecting that at this point, many of you guys may have also seen Iron Man 2.

I simply don't get why people are so down on the movie. I'm not saying that Iron Man 2 is as good as its predecessor, or that its even a great movie. But as for an exciting summer popcorn action flick sequel? For me, it got the job done.

Some awesome @#$% is about to commence.

The movie picked up immediately after the events of the first film, addressed questions that most superhero movies (and comics) dodge regarding the US government's interest in superheroics and super-hardware, and how the appearance of Iron Man would spell "arms race".

It is true that there were a lot of plot threads in the movie, and possibly one or two too many characters. There was also some fairly extraneous, ridiculous stuff that made the movie feel "dumbed down", such as the use of the robot voice of Jarvis to act as an insta-exposition device. The party scene feels a bit forced. Maybe the resolution of Stark's illness is a bit pat.

But with so many sequels that fall completely flat (from what I hear: The Matrix Sequels), or take the characters in directions at odds with the course of the previous film or films (like, say... Highlander 2), Iron Man 2 continues the thread of the same over-the-top Tony Stark we met at the beginning of the first film, and infuses him with a new direction for himself, his company and for what he sees as a future he may be bringing to the world.

Sure, I would have thought Stark would have been held in contempt of congress, or some such charge, but its a fun scene, and more or less wins you over to the unlikely opinion that Stark should be the sole-proprietor of the Iron Man technology (which is, at its heart, a far more driving question in the film than "how sick is Stark?" or "will the villains' scheme work?"). But even that scene is fairly plot heavy, drawing in characters, establishing Hammer's role in the film, and establishing the conflict.

Pretty much exactly what it looked like when I met Jamie...

There's certainly also plenty of connecting the dots between where Iron Man concluded and where Stark will need to be for either an Avengers installment or a sequel. If you're looking at the movie as a foretaste of the Avengers franchise (and I am), its fun to see pieces falling in place. Far more so than were Marvel Studios to try to find an excuse in the Avegers movie to bring all of these characters together with no previous tie-ins. Its an experiment, but one that could pay off like no other franchise before.

One could say there was not enough in the way of Iron Man duking it out with badguys. Maybe I'm old, but there were plenty of other distractions, plot wise, to keep me interested.

spoiler: And, no, nobody believed Stark would die of metal poisoning, and so I didn't mind that it acted more as a catalyst for finding how to super-charge his armor and set up Stark Industries for a new era, all while completing dad's dream. If I can get that plot point in short hand, that's fine by me. end spoiler.

At any rate, its an imperfect film with some great set pieces and a wide variety of characters. And, yes, its a movie featuring both Gwyneth Paltrow and ScarJo, so there's plenty to distract you.

Yeah, I vaguely remember some robot-guy was in the movie, too.

The action scenes and flying scenes we do get are pretty darn good. Guys in armor and with crazy technology beat the living holy hell out of each other (and everyone's kind of okay), robots fly through the air and go "pew pew pew!" at Iron Man, lots of fireballs, and there's even some superspy karate stuff.

Honestly, I have seen Iron Man a fair share of times at this point. While it holds up just fine, I think after Ghost Rider, Daredevil, two fairly embarrassing Fantastic Four movies, Spidey 3, and likely several others I'm forgetting... we were all sort of surprised how much we liked Iron Man.

What you won't get is the satisfaction of the superhero origin story, which is usually the most interesting part about most super-heroes (except for "Matter Eater Lad", who has a boring origin, and is interesting because he eats any kind of matter). We can look to how Nolan must have realized he had spent his Bat-fuel on an origin story, and decided to trade a standard superhero storyline for a sort of intense crime thriller. And maybe that's what some of these sequels are going to have to learn how to do.

It wasn't expecting Dark Knight. I was expecting a superhero movie sequel that was better than FF2, and felt that we got that. So, you know, great.

But, take all this with a grain of salt. I'm also the guy who liked both Hulk movies and Superman Returns.

Yeah. Kind of puts things in perspective.