Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Iron Man 2 is out and more than ever I am seeing the Robert Downy Jr-Richard Dreyfus connection--both these actors cannot seem to leave a scene unchewed, a line unhammed with excess tics and twitches, both are completely incapable allowing a close up to be photographed without a smirk, a grimace, a tilt of the head, a believable tone of voice.
To paraphrase Duncan Shepard , both go about their business as if they had just sat on a cattle prod. That said,the follow up the brilliantly finessed first film tends too lag in the start, with a frankly tedious series of action/ fight scenes and a laborious origin story for Micky Rourke's Russian super villain. It is not a lean story line, as comic book narratives demand--we will make an exception for The Dark Knight--and spends equal amounts of time trying to gin up excitement for the forthcoming Avengers movies with a stalling segment with Nick Fury (curiously played by Sam Jackson).
The last forty minutes, though, tighten the slack pace , with chase scenes and nicely animated combat scenes bringing at least a video game excitement to an otherwise formless display. The voluptuous Scarlett Johansson has a good turn as an agent of the SHIELD agency; in a form fitting action outfit, she practices a sweet kung fu science against a troop of black clad henchmen. Her bad-girl is one of the truly good things in this oddly foot dragging action movie.
On the subject of super hero movies, it's remarkable how quickly people stopped talking about Kick Ass; it has less to do with the follow up release of Iron Man 2 than you might think; I would put with an audience boredom for the whole sub Tarantino irony-mongering as regards a movie reflecting upon it's own genre restrictions. The spectacle of an eleven year old hero named Hit Girl fatally bloodily stabbing, gashing, shooting and neck-breaking an army of henchmen --you wonder why villians keep employing ineffectual muscle-- is something offers something to challenge our moral expectations years beyond when such a thing would have created a fury of self-recrimination. It's that wild grab by someone who strives to out do someone they regard as a master--in this case, Matthew Vaughn tries to mimic Tarantino in the extreme as though wanting QT to pat him on the head and give him a gold star. It is deadening instead, providing yet another occasion for the perennially egregious Nick Cage to proffer another self-mesmerized performance. That he reads his line in a glacial cadence in obvious homage to television Batman Adam West only makes the the lethargy between fight scenes more apparent. This is like a long back seat car ride where the only thing you're looking forward to is the next rest stop.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Iron Man is perfectly positioned to be the first major hit film of the 2008 summer season,and for good reason: it's a fine and entertaining bit of swift, efficient entertainment. Film makers at times have the tendency to make their comic book adaptations a shade too serious but inserting subtexts and philosophical overlays that dampen one's desire to suspend their disbelief.
The wounded inner child issues of Ang Lee's The Hulk made that film into a very noisy tantrum, and Bryan Singer's attempt to link the Superman mythos with the arrival and eventual ascension of Christ made his Superman Returns the slowest moving boat in the channel. IM director Jon Favreau and screen writers Mark Fergus Hawk Otsby make the prudent decision to play this storyline like it were a regular Marvel comic book tale, a refreshingly two dimensional narrative that allows the writers to invest some appealing character traits and good lines of dialogue. Casting is splendid as well, with Robert Downey being a perfect as billionaire arms manufacturing Tony Stark who is kidnapped by terrorists and has a life-changing experience that compels him to build his Iron Man suit and hence undo the harm he has done with his WMDs. An especially fine touch comes with Stark's irritated banter with the workshop robots who assist him in the suit's manufacturing, and in the appropriately destructive trial and error shake down cruises the new weapon requires.Downey applies all his native charm to make Stark seem a playboy with a shrewd sense of irony who's paradigm shift to become a Good Guy doesn't dry up a ready wit. This super hero can run his mouth as well as his engine. It is a nice distinction from other such efforts that this a super hero who might require a AAA card in the event of a stalled suit of armor.