First Night Flicks: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.

Damn Avengers.

Iron Man 2 should have been fantastic. In fact, given that the production’s only significant loss was Terrence Howard, there was no concrete reason why it couldn’t be fantastic. Except, of course, those damn Avengers. Marvel‘s brand roll-out plan locked Iron Man 2 into this release date before a script treatment was even written, and the haste to get a sequel to the screen dilutes a film that, while enjoyable, has the pedigree to be more.

One again, Jon Favreau and his casting directors (Sarah Finn and Randi Hiller) do a fine job in finding actors with the ability to provide precisely what the role requires. The problem is that the screenplay doesn’t give those actors enough to do. Mickey Rourke, for example, is a fine actor who brings a true air of menace to his role, but he’s not on screen enough to sustain any sense of dread.

Set six months after the first film, Iron Man 2 sees a shift in power at Stark Industries, introduces a jealous corporate rival (Rockwell) and an enemy (Rourke) with a (possibly misguided) serious vendetta against the Stark family. It shows Tony Stark (Downey, finding all the right notes once again) at his most self-destructive while also attempting to re-write his family history.

The main problem with the film is that it tries to fit too much story into it’s two hour running time. It’s as if the writers threw out a bunch of ideas they liked but ran out of time to cut out certain elements and fine-tune the ones they kept. Therein lies the problem with not giving a film time to develop without the pressures of a set release date (and is the main reason I fear for the success of Batman 3).

Despite my reservations about the over-stuffed screenplay, the film is quite enjoyable. There were a few hidden gems for the true fans of Marvel and more of that lovely chemistry between Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow. The action set pieces were well-staged, exciting and not entirely predictable. It’s a good start to the summer movie season. I just wanted it to be great. Temper your expectations (and sit through the end credits).

Iron Man 2 replaced Terrence Howard with Folgers Crystals Don Cheadle. Let’s see if anyone notices.