Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2 Review

Iron Man surprised everyone in 2008 with its whit, charm, and brief moments of heroic action. It helped launch Marvel Studios and began their adventure into what could become the most ambitious event in cinema history. Now we are in 2010 with the next piece of the puzzle, Iron Man 2. Does it surpass the original? Not exactly, but then again it doesn't have to. If something works then why try and change it?

Picking up where the first left off it continues with the adventures of Tony Stark, after publicly admitting to being Iron Man. There are new enemies, allies, and issues Tony must face both as Iron Man and himself.

The biggest strength of the series for me is the cast, and how well they play off of one another. At the front of them all is Robert Downey Jr. who continues to own the role of Stark as if he was born to play it. Downey also seems to have the odd gift of elevating the performances of the actors around him. Everyone feels right in their respected roles, with the exception of Gwyneth Paltrow. I thought she played the part well in 2008, but this time things didn't seem to fit as well. The chemistry between her and Downey felt off, but perhaps that is how it was meant to feel? The addition of Scarlett Johansson's character as the strong female role may have also affected Gwyneth's, forcing Pepper Potts to appear more subdued.

The role which might draw the most attention belongs to James Rhodes mostly due to the subtraction of Terrance Howard, and the addition of Don Cheadle as the actor portraying said character. Howard never left much of an impression on me from the first film, so replacing him never felt like much of a big deal for me. I did however enjoy Cheadle's performance and thought he and Downey worked well together.

Lastly we have Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell, playing Ivan Vanko and Justin Hammer the villains of the film. All I can say is that I loved these guys, and every moment they were on the screen together. Rourke and Rockwell spend the majority of their scenes together and it just worked so well for me. Watching these two play off of one another was the biggest treat of the film.

I want to touch on the visual effects briefly because I never felt they were the center of the film, but played a necessary role none the less. The computer animation ranged from average to spectacular, but manages to mesh well in the end. I believe it has to do with scenes that involved someone physically wearing a suit were CGI was used to fill in the gaps to make it all appear real. Versus the scenes using an entirely computer animated armored hero with no human stand-in involved in the process. At times these two processes may have clashed, but it never pulled me out of the experience enough to ruin it.

Though some have already claimed the movie suffers from Spider-Man 3 syndrome, with a jam packed cast and multiple plot points, but I have to disagree. The final product proves to be more well paced and balanced than the web slinger's third film. Iron Man 2 is a stepping stone in Marvel's grand scheme, but it's one hell of a fun step to take.

Final Grade: A-

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