RDJ has nice hair: musing on Iron Man 2

While the first Iron Man film was like being charmingly seduced by that gorgeous, well-dressed and normally unattainable man who takes the corner booth at a bar, the second was more like being forced to sit at the counter perched on the last available bar stool next to the local sleazy drunk after he’s had one-too-many.

Too harsh? Perhaps … but in both cases the first scenario is a pleasant surprise, while the second scenario kind of makes you wish you’d never left the house.

Robert Downey Jr. is always very easy to watch, but I felt the material he had to work with in this film wasn’t of a particularly high quality. I found that I really struggled at times to warm to the character of Iron Man / Tony Stark, which is a vastly different reaction to what I experienced watching the first film. However on the plus side, RDJ has some beautiful wardrobe choices (minus the first pinstripe suit) and his hair has never looked better. While RDJ is a BIG positive, I found he had a tough battle on his hands to try and outweigh the negatives, a personal selection of which I present below:

Problem #1 – Sometimes too much glitz, trashy glamour and money does not make for a happy combination. There’s a fine line to walk between being a cheeky flirt and just being kinda gross … unfortunately many scenes which feature Tony Stark interacting with women are more sleazy than sexy.

Problem #2 – Trying to make me care about some guy in Russia. I just don’t, I’m sorry. I want to see an intelligent and believable villain come up against Iron Man for sure, but I just couldn’t accept Mickey Rourke as fulfilling either of those descriptions.

Problem #3 – Realism is lost amongst the dazzle. When things like cars explode or hit people, the people tend to come off second best. I’m all for the big special effects, massive explosions and a sprinkling of violence, but it always bugs me when realism isn’t at least a minor consideration.

Problem #4 – Scarlett Johansson. She’s gorgeous and can obviously act, but I think she needs strong direction so that she avoids the pouty, simpering, character-we’re-obviously-supposed-to-find-super-hot that she adopts here. There’s too much hair acting and some seriously bad fight choreography, not to mention having to deliver some truly cringe-worthy lines.

Problem #5 – Bad writing. Sometimes too many one-liners add up to a whole pile of rubbish. A smattering of clever quips always work well, but I think it’s much more important to focus on natural dialogue and keeping true to the framework of a character.

Problem #6 – Long bits of nothingness. Every film probably has a fair amount of ‘filler’, but there are several sequences in this film that are unnecessarily long and protracted. I won’t give away any details, but there’s a finite amount of building of ‘scientific’ apparatus, flying and fighting that a person needs to see in any one film.

Problem #7 – Use of the coincidence. I love to suspend belief just as much as the next person, but I just don’t think a film can rely on too many convenient coincidences to push the story forward. When it comes to the use of coincidences in film, less is definitely more.

Problem #8 – Extras that overact. There are several scenes where this is so obvious it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. Extras should form a cohesive part of scenes, blending into the background as appropriate and not dominating with an exaggerated display of emotions.

Problem #9 – Wasted characters. Sam Rockwell is an actor I have a lot of time for (if you haven’t seen Moon … go and see it), and while he’s great in Iron Man 2, I think he’s used here rather ineffectively as a second-tier villain. Instead of being a ‘support villain’ I think Sam Rockwell as Hammer would have made a much better main villain being both an intelligent and believable opponent for Tony Stark.

Problem #10 – Not enough RDJ. This may be a selfish request, but I did think the focus of the film could have been a lot more tightly framed around Tony Stark / Iron Man rather than feeling like his pivotal scenes were spread too thinly across too many characters and too many distractions.

In all seriousness though, when I try to enunciate exactly what it is that I didn’t like about this film, I would have to say it was the ‘lack of humanity’. Unlike the first film, in Iron Man 2 I felt there was little to emotionally connect with in either the story or in any of the characters, and I think it’s that aspect that was the most disappointing.

7 Comments

  1. Andrew Emmett

    Blimey!

    Between your post and Lee’s I’m giving Iron Man 2 a miss. I don’t think I can even be bothered to watch this when it’s released to dvd.

    It’s a shame, they had an opportunity to build upon number 1 and sound like they’ve blown it. Not just slightly, but as you point out on numerous levels. Oh dear.

    Good post.

    Andrew

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Andrew – Thanks for ready my rather lengthy Iron Man 2 post … though I hope I haven’t scared too many people off from seeing it. While I love RDJ in the title role, I just felt there weren’t enough other elements to make a truly great film. If you do end up taking the plunge and seeing it, I’d be really interested to hear what you think.

      I think this film is disappointing in a number of ways – not just because it’s generally not a great film, but because as you point out, they had a great opportunity to do really great things with the sequel. I can’t even imagine how unbearable this film would have been to watch if RDJ wasn’t in it … he brings a lot of charisma and ‘glue’ to the film.

  2. Rol

    I’d agree with most of this, particularly the emphasis on glitz. I forgot when writing my own review, but what really annoyed me about the first half of the film was the over-use of fake TV footage. It was like watching a load of clips on youtube and really took you out of the story.

    Not sure I agree that Scarlett J can act though. I’ve yet to see much evidence of it.
    .-= Rol´s last blog ..Iron Man 2 – out of…? =-.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Rol – Thanks for your Iron Man 2 comments. You mentioned the use of fake TV footage … you know you’re so right … I wonder why they felt that was necessary? I think the film really suffered from some lazy writing and some inattentive editing. They really could have cut a WHOLE pile of stuff out of what we saw and things would have probably improved greatly. I think that point you raise about feeling separated from the story is one I really agree with – the film really failed to ‘involve’ the audience in the story … a major failing for any film for sure.

      As for Scarlett J’s acting … I’ve only seen her in a few things (at the moment all I can remember is The Island and Match Point). I felt she was pretty good in Match Point, but perhaps that was because she was playing a kind of down-on-her-luck / generally unsuccessful actor?? There may be some kind of irony in that… 😉

  3. Pingback: Andrew Emmett » Blog Archive » Iron Man 2 and AC/DC videos

  4. jason

    well, that convinced me to finally see the first one! all of yr individual critiques are well-taken and smack of the issues that most popular entertainment i see is riddled with. thanks –

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Jason – You should DEFINITELY see Iron Man 1 (but yes, perhaps give number 2 a miss), especially if you like Robert Downey (I seem to recall that you do?). Thanks for ready my long and somewhat negative review – it’s nice to see you were able to find a positive in it! 🙂

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