Warning: There be spoilers here, and as it is about 3am when I type this up this review might come across as a bit cranky. Just a little.
So one of my friends invited me to go see Iron Man 2 with her and a group of her friends at midnight. Now, I am not a big Iron Man fan, actually, the fact that the person who I’m supposed to call ‘dad’ just about worships Tony Stark is enough to set me off from it; but I try to be objective and I think I manage a fairly decent job since I know next to nothing about Iron Man from the comics and actually really enjoyed The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and the aforementioned ‘dad’ person did not.
Anyway, back to the movie part. I entered the theater with a fairly open mind because when I saw the first Iron Man movie I had such low expectations for it that I actually enjoyed it. I thought, “Self, maybe Iron Man 2 might be the same. Shell out the $11 that you could use towards a sonic screwdriver and go have fun with your friends. Maybe it will surprise you”.
Somehow, it actually managed to be below my expectations. Let me present a quick digression: when I went to see The Bourne Identity in theaters I couldn’t stand the movie so much that I longed to fall asleep. I closed my eyes for 20 minutes at a time praying for sleep, but it did not come. That has not happened to me during a movie since. Until Iron Man 2.
It started out promising by presenting an interesting conundrum for narcissistic self-proclaimed superhero Tony Stark; his palladium heart is killing him. (a little strange considering the actual helpful things that palladium really does, but I can go with it; this is Marvel after all) The trouble is, Tony can’t figure out a way to cure himself. This is significant because the next hour and forty five minutes will be spent watching Tony struggle with this issue, with one really disappointing fight scene stuck in to keep 99% of the audience happy, and a rather strange digression in the plot meant to introduce Marvel’s next movie The Avengers.
First let me tackle the fight scene. It started out promising, with Iron Man’s new nemesis making a random appearance at the racetrack that Tony is at, having commandeered the race car from the real driver so that Tony can race it, presumably because he thinks he’s dying and it’s one of those things on his Bucket List. Anyway, Vanko stomps out onto the racetrack and starts using his rather fancy light whip things to start causing havoc to get Tony’s attention. After nearly getting himself sliced in half, Pepper shows up with his portable Iron Man suit. (now, if the suit fits in that over-sized briefcase, how come he has to go through the whole fan fair of standing around having that machine take it off for him?) Now he’s ready for battle! Vanko lassos him a couple times with his light whips and then suddenly Tony throws him into the ground and just like that, the fight is over. As it should be since Vanko had almost no armor and if he’d gotten slammed into the ground any harder they’d be scraping him off the racetrack. If the whole scene lasted 2 minutes I’d be very surprised.
That was about a half hour into the movie after Jon Favreau made us sit through the most annoying Senate meeting ever about what to do with Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. Then we have to wait another hour and fifteen minutes for Iron Man’s next encounter with Vanko. Problematic? I think so.
If you’re wondering, what happened in those rather painful and dull 75 minutes was as follows: Samuel L. Jackson (eye patch and all) as Nick Fury approaches Tony Stark about the S.H.I.E.L.D. program. Enter the prolonged process of introducing viewers to The Avengers which is not scheduled until 2012. (here’s hoping the Mayans are spot on and we get spared the likely train wreck that movie will be if the past few Marvel movies are any indication) Also, thanks to some very strange phenomenon with Harold Stark and an old recording, Tony realizes his father left him a way to solve his palladium issue. (anyone else confused as to how 30 years in the past the father knew exactly what his son would need? Anyone else feel like it was a bit of a grandfather paradox?)
And finally we are able to move on with what little plot this movie had. Vanko makes his next big appearance at the Stark Expo, via idiot Justin Hammer and his desire to one-up Iron Man and make a cooler better suit. Blah blah, chase ensues, lots of explosions and things start to look up for the last few minutes of the movie. And then suddenly Tony Stark realizes that Vanko has a backup plan and he has to race back across New York to get back to save Lois Lane from the exploding drones. Oops, sorry, wrong movie. It’s just that Iron Man flying at Mach speeds did so remind me of Superman flying backwards around the world as fast as he could to go back in time so he could bring Lois back from the dead.
My biggest problem with that scene? Not the throwback to Superman, who is as we all know a DC comic (boo, hiss!) but the fact that Pepper stands around staring at the drone for about thirty seconds while it beeps and its chest flashes red at her. She must not have gotten the memo that in action movies when things beep and flash red it usually means they are going to explode. Fortunately for her Tony arrives just in time and he grabs her and they blast off to safety. Here enters my problem: 0mph-100000000mph in .2 seconds= flattened Pepper. Whoops, better luck next time, Mr. Stark!
So now that Vanko is vanquished, that leaves Nick Fury and his eye patch free to go try to recruit Iron Man for his new team. Only I was just as confused as Tony Stark was. They want Iron Man for the team, but they don’t want Tony Stark? That’s like saying “thanks, I’ll take the Hulk, but Bruce Banner get lost” or “come on in, Mr. Hyde, but make sure you leave Dr. Jekyll at home!” Not that I particularly blame them. Tony Stark is really not my kind of superhero.
That just leaves the small clip at the end of the movie.
What, you thought I was going to spoil that too? No, that you can go see for yourself (it’s probably already up on youtube somewhere if you’re really desperate) and would require a whole other rant on my part that frankly I’m just too tired to type up.
Overall, my feeling was that this movie was really just one big promo for The Avengers, kind of like those episodes of CSI that introduced the other CSI shows, or the episode of NCIS to introduce NCIS: Los Angeles. Slightly entertaining but overall pretty useless.
Here’s my verdict: on a scale of one to ten, with ten being X-Men 2, and one being The Hulk, and five being The Fantastic Four, I give Iron Man 2 just that: a two.