' ' Cinema Romantico: Iron Man 2

Monday, May 24, 2010

Iron Man 2

I have an admittedly radical idea for the filmmakers of "Iron Man 2" when they get around to making the inevitable third installment. Several years ago my friend Brad introduced me to a movie titled "The Specials" wherein a team of superheroes - giving the movie its title - consisting of Rob Lowe, Thomas Haden Church, Judy Greer, amongst others, is chronicled without ever showing the superheroes in action. Instead it is more a backstage drama as they deal with day to day matters, personal dramas, those sorts of things, and while the movie itself underwhelmed me I always found the premise immensely intriguing. And "Iron Man 3" needs to hijack that premise. I might be so bold as to proclaim "Iron Man 2" as my favorite superhero movie of all time if those pesky action sequences didn't keep getting in the way.

One person can only respond to a movie how he or she responds to it and, well, I'm just done with two guys in metal suits hitting each other and missiles flying all over the place and CGI explosions and more CGI explosions and all the rest. (My favorite action sequence in the whole film is when one character dispatches with maybe 12 bad guys in the time it takes Jon Favreau's bodyguard, employing only old school methods, to dispatch one. It's like a commentary on where action movies started and where they have gone.) Why waste our time with it when we have so many actors and actresses who are so alive in the roles, so clearly having a good time, so happy to come into work? It's wonderful line reading after wonderful line reading! Use it to your advantage! Robert Downey Jr., against all the odds, has found the role of a lifetime in Tony Stark, the egotistical, brilliant, billionaire "textbook narcissist", who fits into that Iron Man suit, and the movie is always - always - more interesting when we can see his face.

There is a scene here where Tony Stark has coffee with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, who runs a special superhero agency (or something) of his own, at a donut shop, the shop's logo visible in reverse in the window. Stark is wearing his Iron Man suit, sans helmet, which is propped next to his styrofoam coffee cup, and Fury is adorned in his trademark black trenchcoat and eyepatch, but - while they are discussing important matters - essentially they are just two dudes having a cup of coffee. I cannot describe how happy this made me. Yes, yes, you could argue "Mystery Men" played the same angle, but not really because "Mystery Men" was an obvious comedy with a heightened setting. The scene in "Iron Man 2" is played entirely straight, making it twenty times better and funnier. I want more of it! I want the whole movie to be like it!

But I know what drives Hollywood and it's summer movies. And a summer movie "Iron Man 2" is, thus it has a particular quotient to fill. As the movie opens (and the first 10, 15 minutes are just an absolute delight) Stark is summoned to Capital Hill to testify before Senator (wait for it) Stern (Garry Shandling) in regards to his very valuable Iron Man suit which the government - represented in part by Stark's longtime buddy Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle)- wants for its own purposes, which is to say they want a weapons expert charmingly named Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to create an entire army of powerful Iron Men. Meanwhile our obligatory villain, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, taking laconically fearsome to dizzying new heights while still finding time to stay true to his roots with some Method toothpick chewing), plots revenge against Stark by putting together his own Iron Man-esque suit, complete with electronic tentacles (or something). Meanwhile back at the ranch Stark's trusted, red-headed sidekick Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is now CEO of the company, meaning that she, and Tony, must deal with a buxom new assistant named Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson, underplaying amidst the craziness around her), who might just have an agenda all her own. Meanwhile (and here the film gets its gravity) Tony Stark is slowly dying as the "palladium core" (or something) that fits into his chest is poisoning him - or, as the movie says, that which keeps him alive, is killing him. He must find a replacement for the palladium.

But all of that - and, good God, that's a lot - should merely be a trifle which allows our impressive stable of actors and actresses to cut loose and exchange witty repartee. You've got the romantic triangle in place with Tony, Pepper and Natalie, so let's roll with it, what do ya say?! Tony Stark can save the world without having to blow anything up, right? Andrew Sarris has said a screwball comedy is a "sex comedy without the sex" so let's turn "Iron Man 3" into the very first Screwball Action Movie - an action movie without the action. Please, please, pretty please?

In fact, it doesn't even have to be part of the "Iron Man" series. You don't have to call it "Iron Man 3" since we will never see Robert Downey Jr. with the Iron Man helmet on his head. We'll call it "Tony Stark"! It will be it's own thing, a one-off, an experiment! This will be the chance for something real and fun and inspiring in this god-forsaken business! So....

Who's coming with me? Who's coming with me?


Wretched Genius said...

Agree 100%.

I don't think the action needs to be cut altogether, it just needs to be trimmed drastically.

The race car sequence was good, but could have easily lost about 60 seconds in editing.

The ground battle against the robots at the end was done well, and had a humorously abrupt ending that led to a great line from Cheadle, so that sequence is just fine. But the agonizingly long aerial chase that preceded it could have been cut down to 10 seconds, just enough to get us from one location to the next.

I also didn't mind the final battle with Whiplash, because it was fairly quick and tightly edited.

But the Iron Man vs. War Machine fight was just plain retarded. I'm not a fan of that word, but I really can't think of a more accurate way to describe it.

And I loved, loved, LOVED Nick Fury's line about his life not revolving around Tony Stark.

Nick Prigge said...

That last showdown between Iron Man and Whiplash was quick. You're totally right. In fact, as it was about to happen in my mind I was thinking, "Oh no, this is going to go on forever" and after we'd already been through that - as you said - agonizingly long aerial chase. So that was refreshing.

I just think these movies have such interesting characters and if they would REALLY focus on them they could be something special.

Castor said...

Glad you enjoyed it! I did not mind the movie having a relatively low amount of action myself. Hanging out with Tony, Pepper and Nick is fun enough times. My main beef was that for all the dialogue, the Iron Man universe was not advanced significantly and it tried so hard to setup the Avengers franchise instead.

Nick Prigge said...

Very true. Personally I loved all the dialogue and I wouldn't mind all dialogue and no advancement if - big, big if - they really chose to run with it and make a stand alone movie that just existed entirely on its terms. But that's all just wishful thinking.