Iron Man 2

The creators of Iron Man 2, for all the money they were given and the gifted cast they hired, have forgotten that the finest special effect in any movie is real, believable human emotion, and thus their film is soulless and lame.

Several days after having seen it, I remain shocked at how ineptly the sequel was filmed. It’s such a shoddy movie that not only is it a major disappointment but it is also one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Now, I have to admit that most of my least favourite movies ever are sequels or big-budget films in general, such as Batman and Robin, Charlie’s Angels, The Devil’s Own, etc., mostly because all of these movies’ budgets and stars force the movie to be “important,” with big emotions and the like, and these movies fall far short of earning the importance they give themselves. Against my better judgment, I have lately been roped in to see some movies that people of my generation find so obviously “bad” that they get camp value out of watching them, such as this and, to a less “bad” extent, this. Granted, “Clue” was way more of a good time than any of the other bad movies I’ve listed, but it’s still bad and I’ll never understand why people my age would consciously waste two hours of their lives to watch a movie they think is terrible so they can laugh ironically at it, but I digress. The original point is that really bad big-budget movies are always infinitely worse than really bad Uwe Boll movies because Uwe Boll has the mere ambition to make bad movies that he’s aware are bad so he can wink at the audience and share their ironic laughter while big-budget movies are about the latest Hollywood star saving the world from the latest Hollywood bad guy.

This is part of the reason I absolutely loathe Iron Man 2, because it had the ambition and the cast and the money necessary to be great and it’s so woefully short of such lofty goals that it fails to be worth even the five bucks I spent to watch it. It’s got one of those screenplays that throws eight lines per second at the screen to distract the audience from the fact that the dialogue is painfully flat and that the emotions the characters speak of are nowhere seen in action rather than in talk. The rest of the elements of the movie are equally busy in theory while heading nowhere in actuality. Thus, we get Sam Rockwell chewing up the scenery in the least-convincing overacting since Tom Cruise playing drunk and Mickey Rourke chewing up nothing in a portrayal of the least-menacing villain in an action movie since Mathieu Amalric’s in the last James Bond flick. God bless Chandler Levack for commenting recently that Don Cheadle’s hyper-sincere performances might have been interesting until about the point that Crash came out but are mostly boring now. He’s so over-serious that he’s not believable as a friend of playboy Tony Stark. This is one of the most glaring things that worked so well in the first film that the makers went away from. Terrence Howard worked perfectly as a foil for Downey because, although he’s serious when he has to be, as any army man must, his stoner-sleepy eyes and smile show that he can relax too, and thus can kick back with a character in Stark who has lots of money and likes to spend it on fun things and women.

Now, the women. The main reason that Iron Man was not just a great comic book movie but a great movie bar none was because of the sexual tension between Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts and Downey Jr. The scene in which Pepper has to retrieve Tony’s what I will call “bionic” heart from inside his chest has more heat in it than is contained in the entirety of most of the “romantic” comedies Hollywood releases nowadays. Nevertheless, the makers of the sequel have again ignored a winning formula by concentrating on the sturm und drang between the men rather than the rawer tension between Stark, Potts, and whoever Stark picks to bed next, in this movie’s case Scarlett Johansson’s character. Not only are the women mostly ignored in the film, but Johansson is made to take part in one of the film’s several infuriating plot holes.

I may not be a filmmaker, but I have seen enough movies and read enough books to know that when you are creating a make-believe world you have to explain to the audience or the reader why this world can be believed in by attaching some real human concern to it and setting parameters that cannot be broken without an explanation. Hence, Neo in The Matrix cannot dodge bullets until after he’s told he’s The One and can break the physical rules of the computer world he’s trying to destroy. Now I am sure that the comic-book nerds watching the movie don’t mind that Nick Fury and Romanoff are brought into it without any mention of what SHIELD is all about and why it is so desperate to acquire Iron Man’s services, but the absence of such information not only made me not care for them, it made me not care for the movie they’re in. I also hate that Rhodey steps into the War Machine suit, which he did not make and has never used, and operates it expertly without there being even a one-minute scene showing him training in it. I cannot take it for granted that he can fly in it because in the first movie the filmmakers set the parameters of this world by not allowing us to take it for granted that Tony Stark, the genius who created the suit, could fly in it without practice. If Rhodey’s a better flier than Stark I would have liked some character in the movie commenting to that effect before Rhodey takes off. Thus, in conclusion, Iron Man 2 is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen because it fails to pay attention to even that one small yet significant detail, an ignorance of good filmmaking and storytelling techniques that infests the rest of the film like a bad plague.

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