Keeva Stratton,Â Quip Creative
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johannson, Don Cheadle
The Iron Man series flamboyantly blasts itself back onto our (super) screens for its second installment â€“ and the film is, in many ways, akin to its iconic rock soundtrack. It\’s loud, packed with explosive moments, and comes with an all-too-familiar pounding rhythm that transports us from the jolting reveal of the evil nemesis, to the ongoing struggle with the various political and health problems now confronting our protagonist, who, having now revealed himself as a bionic superhero, is seen as a human weapon, while being dependent on imperfect technology to survive. What elevates the film from simply being a mid-range comic adaptation action flick to something that will undoubtedly attract a wider audience, is the engaging array of well-scripted and superbly acted characters.
Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.), the rock star celebrity / physics wonder boy, who exudes narcissism, charisma and genius in equal parts, and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his long suffering, mild-mannered personal assistant, have returned â€“ and along with them, the frustrations (and delicious unresolved sexual tension) of their yet-to-be realised love for one another. Stark, having left his weapons development focus behind (the epiphany of the first installment), is now ruffling quite a few military and political feathers as he refuses to hand his Iron Man suit over to authorities. Iron Man has assumed an iconic status and now draws stadiums filled with fans, all while boasting all the excessive trappings of a celebrity lifestyle. But, beneath the enigmatic facade, Stark is beginning to physically suffer ill effects from his artificial enhancements, and he embarks on a life threatening race to find an alternative to the chest implant that is slowly failing him.
Determined to ruin the Iron Man party are the evil yet oddly paired duo of Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) â€“ your typical example of boardroom bad guy, who proves that evil and a sense of humour are a well placed combination â€“ and the dastardly Ivan Vanko aka Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) â€“ who is bent on revenge for his father\’s honour, and whose maniacal fanatical genius poses an unexpected challenge for our intrepid hero. Hammer has replaced Stark Industries as the leading weapons manufacturer for the United States Government, and is being continually embarrassed by failing to meet the lofty standards that Stark has set. On the other hand, Vanko has assumed his father\’s mission to bring down the Stark legacy, as Howard Stark had banished his father many years before. What makes these villains great is their generous offering of wonderfully wicked yet thoroughly entertaining moments throughout.
There seems to be no shortage in talent, nor in attractive actors, with the gorgeous Scarlett Johanson as the mysterious and alluring legal assistant Natalie Rushman (aka the Black Widow), and Samuel L. Jackson as SHIELD boss Nick Fury, who brings to the role his signature hard-edged presence and impact in rounding out the A-List cast. One also cannot forget Don Cheadle, who ably takes over the part of Colonel Rhodes â€“ the only notable casting change from the first film.
The film is one to be enjoyed and Downey appears to revel in the hedonism of Stark\’s character. There\’s a scene in the film which sees Stark turn to Adam â€˜DJ AM\’ Goldstein, who is, in true Hollywood style, deejaying his birthday party â€“ Stark requests a â€˜fat beat\’ to pummel his friend to, and DJ AM happily obliges. It\’s a real highlight and captures the charisma and humour that makes the Iron Man series truly fun viewing. For fans of Goldstein, who has since passed, it will be tinged with sadness but a welcome reminder of the much loved Hollywood character he was.
While the plot may have been unnecessarily stretched in parts to add more opportunity for explosions and technological special effects moments, the lines are witty enough and the characters and character motivations are sufficiently interesting to maintain your attention. I liken these types of films to a good night with your friends â€“ the tales are tall, the laughs are plenty, and while there are few surprises, the familiarity is oddly satisfying.
Category: Film & TV