Yeah... so this is about a year late. But I never did see Iron Man 2 in the theater. I just wasn't all that excited by it for some reason, despite really liking the first one.
So I finally rented it this week. I didn't get it from Netflix, or download it from iTunes, or stream it, or get video on demand. I rented an actual, physical Blu-ray disc.
From a store. A small, mom and pop type video store.*
I know... quaint, right?
Well, I couldn't rent it from a Blockbuster, since those have been closing faster than uh... something that closes really fast. Like a simile of some sort. Where closing is involved.
Yep, another quality blog entry. Thanks for stopping by and reading.
I actually really liked Iron Man 2. This despite the fact that I didn't get the whole audience participation effect while watching it at home. At their best, movies are a communal experience. At least, when people don't talk during the film, or have their cellphones ring, or bring little kids who scream the whole time, and so on. Because then, they should just really be staying home.
I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job of fitting several major plots into the movie, but it didn't feel like a disjointed mess (which can often happen), since the story lines all tied together in a way that made sense. They combined the characters of Whiplash and the Crimson Dynamo into one (although it was more Whiplash than Crimson Dynamo), had War Machine in there, Justin Hammer (played most excellently by Sam Rockwell) and the Black Widow (played even more excellently by Scarlett Johansson in a cat suit).
Still though, even with all that going on, the heart and soul of the film was still Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. He comes across as the most believable and human alter-ego of any cinematic superhero. Other movie superheroes always seem like the actors are playing the role of their character, but Downey just feels completely natural in the role, as if he really is living the part onscreen. Part of that may be the script, part of it may be the nature of Iron Man being grounded with technologically based super-abilities (rather than having mutant, alien, mystical, or otherwise super-natural powers), but certainly a lot of it comes from Downey's own personality and playfulness with the character. Sure, Tony Stark is a self-centered egomanic, but he's a likable self-centered egomaniac with a heart of gold. Or rather, palladium. Downey just inhabits the character effortlessly, and makes it work.
It also helps that all of the supporting cast was excellent. Besides Rockwell and Johansson, Don Cheadle did a good job as Rhodey, Mickey Rourke was superb as Whiplash, Garry Shandling was great as a particularly slimy senator (and made another good foil for Tony Stark), Samuel L. Jackson had an expanded role as Nick Fury, and Gwyneth Paltrow brought back that great chemistry that she has with Downey.
And I did mention Scarlett Johansson, right? In a cat suit? Because I think that's an important plot point.
There were some really good action sequences nicely spaced throughout the movie, although the final battle with Whiplash seemed a little bit too easy (although since they were double-teaming him, it had better have been a quick fight). There were some nice hints at the forthcoming Thor, Captain America and Avengers movies too, which helps to enforce the idea of Iron Man being part of a bigger world.
Overall, I liked Iron Man 2 a lot more than I expected too. Was it as good as the first movie? Not quite, but neither was it a bad movie by any stretch. It was, in the best sense, a worthy sequel. I now wish I'd seen it in the theater. I think I would've had fun. Consequently, I'm now a little more likely to see some of the other superhero movies this summer.
I'd give it an 8/10.
*Incidentally... back to the video store for a moment - Video Depot. It's interesting now that the only video stores left around here are the smaller, mom and pop type stores that existed in the days before Blockbuster. I missed those stores, and even in recent years when I rented movies, I'd still go to them in favor of Blockbuster when I could. I hope that they can still stick around. I think there's a need for them (I really don't want to rent a Blu-ray from a vending machine at the grocery store, or wait for Netflix to mail something to me when I want to rent something on the spur of the moment), and maybe now they stand a chance of with the demise of Blockbuster, Hollywood and their ilk. (This particular store is covering its bases - it also does computer repair and is a notary public. And sells postage stamps. )