Sunday, May 16, 2010

Iron Man 2

Review by Dan Tres OMi

As a true comic book head, I have realized that there are NO movies that were produced in Hollywood for the silver screen that can truly satisfy that part of me. While I don't expect Hollywood to get it right in that manner, I do expect a decent movie since comic books is basically about fantasy. Of course there is more to comic culture than meets the eye but let's be real, super heroes and heroines duking it out in tights is fantasy. The only dope movie franchise that is based on comic books is the Dark Knight movies but that franchise deviates from almost all of the Batman story arcs and rewrites over the last six decades (I have yet to watch Kick A$$ so bear with me).

For some reason, Marvel Comics seems to come up short when it comes to their staple super heroes. Both the Spider Man and Fantastic Four movies lack so much in depth, continuity, and writing. The first two Blade installments were probably Marvel's best efforts (even Stan Lee admits in his autobiography that the Blade movies saved Marvel Comics from going belly up) However, the Iron Man franchise has impressed me. While I still find that Robert Downey is not convincing as Tony Stark, I can't front on his acting chops. When you need it, Downey does come through in a clinch.

What plagues the Marvel comic movies is that the writers seem to throw in several subplots and story arcs in each movie. In the X Men franchise this seems to really tear up the movie. It forces the writing to be fuddled and disrupts the continuity. The only exception is the Fantastic Four movies where the plot is kept simple yet somehow it just doesn't work. In Iron Man 2, there are several subplots (ie. S.H.I.E.L.D., Pepper Potts romance, War Machine/Dusty Rhodes, the Black Widow, the Avengers Initiative). Of course, the movie house is doing this to ramp up interest and buzz for the future movies based on Thor, Captain America, and finally the Avengers. It must be noted that for Iron Man, it seems like the writers are borrowing from several story arcs such as Orson Scott Card's rework of Tony Stark/Ironman, Mark Millar's the Ultimates, and the Tony Stark/S.H.I.E.L.D. pre Civil war story line. Although scary, Marvel pulls it off.

The best part about the movie is the team up between Iron Man and War Machine. I don't think the director Jon Favreau could have pulled it off with Terence Howard. I gripped my seat expecting Rhodes/War Machine to talk jive as he peeled off on the battle droids but he didn't. I was so happy. Don Cheadle came off as a respectable equal and not a side kick to Iron Man.
I also noted that Iron Man 2 does not relying heavily on CG as the original did. Most of the fight scenes are done in the evening so the audience does not get lost in high speed robotic antics.

One underlying theme I dug was the idea that one man can only have access to a powerful weapons system and how many people, organizations, and governments are trying to acquire access by any means necessary to that power weapons system. In the comic books as well as the first Iron Man movie, the writers deal with that idea of deterrence. I doubt that the writers were trying to pull a political angle when it comes to nuclear proliferation but it's important to ask who watches the watchers. Stark, an ego maniac as hard as they come, feels that he is stable enough and has the sound judgement to control this dangerous piece of technology. Most people agree with him until someone happens to invent the same platform. Now the genie is out of the bottle. While the similiarities between the Armor War (as it is dubbed in Marvel comics) and the arms race are there, Stark quite easily settles this dispute with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. (a free comic of our choice to any reader who can tell me who starred as Nick Fury in Marvel's hapless attempt at making a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie -- the memories drive one to drink! Can I get a mindwipe PLEASE!).

My only gripe is that although Mark Millar rewrote Nick Fury to look like Samuel Jackson in the Ultimates (Millar also wrote Halle Berry into Marked) but Jackson just doesn't pull it off. I expected him to say "fothermucker" sometime in there. He didn't come off as by the book, super duper top secret Fury. He came off as a big guy with new toys. Sorry Jackson, you have to go back to the lab on this one. Maybe Millar is reaching when it comes to his fantasies?

Overall, the movie is one of the best and only second to the Dark Knight franchise. Marvel hits it out of the field with this one. It has lived up to the hype (geez, that was alot of hype). I enjoyed the quips made by Stark and Fury when it came to the other heroes who will be on the Avengers roster. I also dug how they played Stan Lee (Stark believes he is Larry King!). The scene with Stark at the Senate hearing is worth the price of admission (wait until you see who the Stark haters are). I must urge the reader to stay until after the credits. It's well worth the wait.

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