GENRE: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Adaptation & Sequel
ROARS: 4 Out of 5
Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2 Hrs. 5 Min.
CAST: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Scarlet Johansson
DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau
There’s a purpose for everything in life, right? And as hard as it is to type, this is how I feel. I think Robert Downey, Jr. may have reached admirable obnoxiousness. His first turn as Iron Man’s dazzling Tony Stark, a weapons manufacturer with oozing guilt, was the smartest of a series of smart comeback choices. Therefore, with lines like “I am your nuclear deterrent” or his over-the-top exposure of “text book narcissism” as referred to by Natasha Romanoff (one of three of Scarlet Johansson’s characters), this kind of franchise surly serves his purpose, and for the most part lives up to what I believe it should be. With much anticipation from its first film, this sequel, like many others, has its minor downfalls, but it doesn’t take away any of the major story-lines presented in the comics. And like any other film or comic, Starks is tested, and forced to eat those words as he’s being watched, studied, and avenged by an antagonist who would love nothing more than to prove to Starks/Iron Man the fact that the bigger they are, the harder they might fall.
A filmmaker friend of mine stated how this film had “too many” big names and it might not work. I beg to differ. Sometimes it is overkill, and can throw a film for a loop, but personally, I think everyone in this film lived up to their characters. Signs of dubiousness were clear and conclude the mindset of less is more. Yes, it was questionable whether Mickey Rourke’s Russian accent would work, or if the film’s fan-base would accept Don Cheadle as Terrance Howard’s replacement… but judging from last night’s crowd… it seemed to have worked. For the most part, these advance screenings pretty much lay on those who are respectful fans of film, specific graphic novels or comics, and I didn’t hear a screech or sigh from anyone during Rourke’s or Cheadle’s screen time. Presented as Whiplash or Ivan Vanko, he was kept to minimal degree and only geared towards his specifics, as was Cheadle’s War Machine move and tactically creative morph into character. Lots of cheering and the attention-span during the Whiplash/Iron Man fight scene seemed to have delivered. Remarkable F/X as only these kinds of films can provide, and displays how far ones’ imagination can go when working up these scenes on paper.
War Machine: Don Cheadle
Writer, Justin Theroux had a vision, and scraped at a lot of angles and deepness within the Iron Man story, that I think it served as its friend and foe. Maybe it’s just me, but I rather one solid story to follow, however; given the amount of characters, and gearing up for attached spin-offs in the next few years, I totally understand why it had to be presented in such a quasi-rushed form. Therefore, I warn to prepare to endure a lot regarding story and scenery. It might annoy, but if you’re able to follow through, and tolerate, like me, you’ll appreciate why it’s layered in such a way. I will give credit in that it took off right where it ended. I love that! Usually sequels do not do that because they’ll start off somewhere else and causes based on other tangents, but not this one. It got right into it.
The film’s cinematography is as fine as baseball cards freshly unwrapped, and everything from scenery, audio, costumes, and dialog all ties into the cartoon’s authenticity. References to “Captain America” and “The Avengers” seem to be a bit heavier this time around and adding to its visual artistry, Scarlet and Gwyneth looked delicious. Scarlet in a bad-ass-girl kind of way, while Gwyneth’s sexiness was on a level of conservativeness… OH, before I forget… it’s become pretty common for Marvel to add an extra scene after credit rolling, so yeah. There’s something to look forward to which had the crowd going nuts. A film is a film is a film no matter the kind of budget or creativeness, and will always have its flaws and this one isn’t any different. Overall, its appeal will be massive, and it’ll be interesting to see how this one does versus its first one which in my opinion was the best of the two, however; I’ll be honest and say that I enjoyed this one VERY MUCH, and even better than expected cionsidering tarnished outlooks towards sequels or trilogies.
Six months after revealing his identity as Iron Man, Stark Industries CEO Tony Stark (Downy, Jr.) has helped maintain world peace. He opens the Stark Expo in Flushing, Queens: NYC, to continue his father’s — Howard Starks — legacy. A U.S. Senate committee, led by Senator Stern (Gary Shandling), demands Stark release the technology for military application. Stark refuses, publicly shaming rival Justin Hammer (ANOTHER amazing role played by Sam Rockwell) in demonstrating how competitors are at least five years away from successfully recreating the technology.
Stark has discovered the palladium in the arc reactor keeping him alive is slowly poisoning him. All attempts to find a substitute element have failed. Slowly going off the rails as a consequence of what he believes to be his impending death, he appoints his former personal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) CEO of Stark Industries, replacing her with Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson).
While participating in a race in Monaco, Stark is attacked by Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who has constructed a miniaturized arc reactor of his own, including whip-like attachments harnessing the electrical energy. Defeating Vanko with the aid of his briefcase armor, Stark discovers that Vanko is the son of his father’s old business partner, disgraced Russian physicist Anton Vanko, who collaborated on the first arc reactor and has passed the technology on following his death. Ivan blames Tony and his family for his father’s demise; Anton raised his son to believe Howard Stark betrayed him, having him deported back to the Soviet Union in order to receive all the credit for the arc reactor. Vanko is broken out of jail by Justin Hammer, who puts him to work fashioning a line of armored combat units that he will use to upstage Stark at his own Expo.
Ivan Vanko/Whiplash: Mickey Rourke
With the government leaning on him even harder following the revelation that arc reactor technology is in the hands of someone else, Stark throws what he believes will be his last birthday party and promptly proceeds to get drunk while wearing the Iron Man armor, becoming a danger to himself and others. His friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is forced to take the Mark II armor and subdue Tony, delivering the armor to the military afterward. Disgraced, Stark is approached by Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D (Samuel L. Jackson), who reveals Natalie is an undercover agent. He also provides Tony with a chest of his father’s old artifacts, which can hopefully be used to find a cure for his palladium poisoning. Stark realizes his father has left him a hidden message in the original diorama of the 1974 Stark Expo; the model is also a diagram of the atomic structure of an unknown element, which Howard was unable to synthesize due to the limits of his era’s technology. Tony builds a particle accelerator in his home with the aid of his computer J.A.R.V.I.S. (voiced by Paul Bettany) and synthesizes this new element. The element is then loaded into a modified arc reactor chest piece and cures Stark’s palladium poisoning. Afterward, Ivan calls Stark, revealing that he is free and set on revenge.
At the Expo, Hammer unveils his new military drones, captained by Rhodes in a heavily-weaponized version of the confiscated Mark II armor. Stark arrives as Iron Man intending to warn Rhodes, but Vanko takes control of both the drones and Rhodes’s new armor, setting them to attack Iron Man. As Stark battles against these remote-controlled enemies, Potts has Hammer arrested while Stark’s bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Natalie race to Hammer’s Queens facility to stop Vanko. By the time they arrive, Vanko has already departed for the Expo in a new, more powerful suit of armor, but Natalie is able to give Rhodes control of his armor again so that he and Stark can fight together. After taking down the drones, the two fight Vanko in his new armor. They defeat him with a combined blast of their repulsor rays, but Vanko’s armor and drones are then revealed to have been equipped with self-destruct charges. As they begin to go off, Stark races to save Pepper, rescuing her at the last minute. She quits her CEO position, claiming it to be too stressful for her, and she and Stark finally kiss. Rhodes departs with the War Machine armor, which he intends to keep.
Iron Man/War Machine side by side
At a debriefing, Fury informs Stark that while he is “unsuitable” for the “Avengers Initiative”, S.H.I.E.L.D. wants him as a consultant and wants the Iron Man armor on the team with a more suitable person using it. Stark agrees on the condition that Senator Stern present him and Col. Rhodes with their medals for bravery.
In a post-credits scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) informs Fury over the phone they’ve “found it” as an impact crater in the New Mexico desert is shown to contain… (Crowd Goes Wild)
Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr.
Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson
“Pepper” Pots: Gwyneth Paltrow (& Tony Starks)
Justin Hammer: Sam Rockwell
(Opens Friday, May 7th.)