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Iron Man 2 Review

Published April 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Pictures
Iron Man 2 Poster Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 is the sequel everybody thinks Spider-Man 2 was. The unfortunate thing is they still think Spider-Man 2 is that movie so they won’t like Iron Man 2. However, everything they loved about Spider-Man 2 is actually in Iron Man 2 and everything they hate about Iron Man 2 is actually a problem with Spider-Man 2.

Review: Iron Man 2

Iron Man was about the joy of playing with your toys. Iron Man 2 is about the real world consequences when your toys are worth billions of dollars and have deadly powers. Maybe that’s not as fun to deal with for two hours, but it’s way more exciting.

There is a real political debate in Iron Man 2. What would you do with a wealthy citizen who had this suit? It’s a good thing Tony Stark is a good guy. It would be nice if there were a hard and fast answer to real world debates. Of course, everything is not all well with Stark and that’s the most important message. Awesomeness has a shelf life and there’s going to come a day when you’re not all powerful anymore.

Spider-Man 2 dealt with this too. Peter Parker was so burdened by his powers that he gave them up. Apparently, if you don’t like having genetically altered super powers, they just go away. That was a story element people thought was reasonable. The whole point of responsibility is you can’t just choose for it to go away. I’ll buy that genetic spider bites cause super powers. That meta-biology still has to be consistent in the next screenplay.

Of course Tony Stark is not the only technical genius out there so Iron Man has to deal with that too. The script really asks every question I’d want to ask about Iron Man and deals with it. It’s not too much. On the contrary, it’s all related.

All of this exposition is handled much more effectively than in Iron Man. Iron Man had some of the worst blatant exposition too. Honestly, a photo montage about the history of Stark Industries? In Iron Man 2, it’s not even exposition. It’s a developing story. There are a few things they just have to get out there with dialogue, but at least they get Samuel L. Jackson to do it so he makes it sound cool.

Spider-Man 2 had extended scenes where Aunt May explained stuff we already heard in Spider-Man. That was okay with people? Like they had to explain it for the people who didn’t see the $400 million grossing Spider-Man. Iron Man 2 actually forwards the story.

The action scenes are brilliantly constructed, building up with all the elements in play. There are only three real set pieces, which I like in this movie because when the suits do come into action, they’re using them to solve real problems. The sequences are awesome but I’m actually more fascinated by what’s going to happen in the aftermath. That’s what good drama should be.

I’m not longing for more filler action sequences. I mean, I like action-packed excess but if this wants to be an arthouse drama dealing with what expensive superheroes would actually face, I like that too. So many comic book movies promise that. This one does it. It is the perfect balance where superheroes exist, you see enough of them but the suits permeate every other scene, even if characters are uncostumed. When the characters confront each other, it’s real drama performed by expert thespians. They happen to be characters who put on metal suits.

It’s got all the stuff we liked from Iron Man. The showmanship and having fun with power and technology is there, but it also informs the projecting and denial in Stark’s coping process. The funny little arm still glitches. It’s got the overlapping talk which makes scenes active, dynamic, informative and dramatic. And there’s still tons of building. Tony Stark building is the best part and he’s got more stuff to build, and Whiplash build his evil stuff too. I think there’s more building than Iron Man, so there.

The weakness is again CGI. Most of the suit stuff looks fine. You can tell it’s not a guy in a suit but at least it looks like it could be Iron Man. They downright ruin what could have been the best badass slow motion walk away from an explosion ever by putting in a terrible CGI face. Look, if you can’t do the effect, don’t do that shot. Or at least let a stuntman do it. Nobody believes Mickey Rourke was in that explosion so you’re not fooling us with a face paste.

So, excepting that nobody but James Cameron or Peter Jackson will ever do CGI passably (and even forgetting that they should stop trying and use more film technique to create an effect), Iron Man 2 is the kind of movie that makes me grateful. Thank you for making this. It is a beautiful film.

Disagree? Don’t get my Spider-Man 2 references? Discuss with me on Twitter @FredTopel.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount Pictures

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