I recently came to the conclusion that if I only post reviews of movies I really like, this movie blog isn’t going to seem very balanced, even if that means I have to import more reviews I’ve already written. Here is a review of one of my biggest disappointments of 2010, Iron Man 2. I deeply disliked this movie not because of what it was but because of what it could have been and was not. I honestly feel that this movie had more plot potential than even The Dark Knight had, and yet for me Iron Man 2 squandered pretty much every drop of substance it had.
What on earth happened?
I truly loved the first “Iron Man” film; I was willing to forgive and overlook its simplistic plot and poor pacing due to the film’s amazing special effects and action scenes. “Iron Man 2,” however, is inferior to the first in pretty much every conceivable way.
Let’s get my biggest complaint out of the way first: The movie, of all possible “superhero” films, doesn’t even have a whole lot of action (unlike the first film). The intervals between action scenes are interminable, but instead of taking the time to develop tension or at least a coherent story, the film alternates between Tony Stark pimping his own Stark Industries expo, Tony Stark trying to cure his own bizarre health condition, Tony Stark fighting with his live-in girlfriend (featuring some of the poorest character development in recent memory), and Tony Stark flirting and boozing it up with any number of other women.
Those who found Stark’s womanizing in the first film to be awkward will feel no more comfortable here (if anything, they’ll probably feel more appalled), as the film as a whole seems to have gotten in on the act. Scarlett Johansson wears her now-famous catsuit (and adds nothing to the “plot”) while kicking around bad guys, and Tony Stark’s eponymous expo provides a lot of the scantily clad women with whom Stark routinely flirts.
The film itself alternates quickly and jarringly between Stark’s hedonistic gratification binges and his sudden bouts of depression, in which he’s either looking for a new element to power his synthetic heart (palladium poisons his circulatory system and causes his veins to resemble an integrated circuit) or thinking about his father. I didn’t quite get what the movie was trying to convey, but perhaps that was my own fault.
It’s really hard for me to convey my thoughts about the movie’s plot, because it’s not like the movie wasn’t *trying.* Other reviewers felt that the film had too many things going on at once, but I didn’t mind the number of separate plot threads. What I minded was the fact that the movie wasted too much time on ill-conceived “comedy” and didn’t really resolve any of its problems in a satisfying manner. The “villain,” such as he is, is a typical, shallow, greedy, corrupt corporate executive who wants his own suit of powered armor. There’s also another villain who stands around menacingly and destroys cars with electric whips. I know my writing must sound sloppy, but there really aren’t any “characters” in this movie. All of the individuals have some sort of personality [to say that none of them feel “bland”], but each of them is so one-note as to feel as though the characters are just plot and dialogue devices in themselves.
I really wanted to like this film. I really did. And it’s not as though the film wasn’t even trying to be good. The film’s problem was not its aim but its execution. Even still, though I’ve seen worse, I can’t recommend this film on even the most base level.