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Jeff's Review Corner

With the start of summer upon us, the inevitable begins. Mosquitoes begin breeding en masse, the temperature is freezing cold at night and burning hot in the day (at least where I have the pleasure of living) but yet we have the single ray of hope break through the irritation in the form of the Summer Super Hero Movie Blockbusters. For me, this is a really big deal because I am, in fact, a huge geek. This is not an insult – it is the truth and I am proud of it because I would much rather be at home reading comic books than most anything else.

Today’s movie: Iron Man 2

I have to be honest in that my entire experience with Iron Man was… well, the first Iron Man movie. I knew the character existed and I watched the cartoon show that ran in the mid-late 90s when I was a kid, but I still didn’t know anything about the character, his powers, or his modus operandi, so I can’t compare anything to the comics or source material. Yes, I know, I’m a failure to geekdom, just try and bear with me as I attempt assess the movie purely from a movie standpoint.

Assuming you saw the first movie, the second picks up right afterwards, with the vast majority of the cast reprising their original roles with one major exception I’ll get to later. The plot opens with the character of Ivan Vanko (AKA Whiplash) – portrayed by Mickey Rourke – swearing revenge to his dying father for a grievance held against Tony Stark (played by the returning Robert Downey Jr.) and his family. Six months speed by as Stark opens a massive expo for the next generation in inventions and weaponry.

At the same time, Tony realizes that the core that’s been keeping him alive (as seen in the first movie by magnetically binding shrapnel from his heart) is also slowly killing him due to the use of the element palladium, which is slowly poisoning his bloodstream and also rapidly proving inefficient, as the chips in the core burn out at a steadily faster pace. He then turns control of the company over to Pepper Potts, also returning from the first movie as done by Gwyneth Paltrow. Shortly afterwards, Tony begins a series of self-destructive behaviors, all the while being pursued by Vanko, using a modified power suit to attack Iron Man merely to prove a point, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to recruit him for the Avengers Initiative (if you don’t understand why, you clearly did not stay for the credits after the first movie) and finds himself hounded by his own best friend, Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes – one of the few (if not only) actors replaced between the movies, now being portrayed by Don Cheadle.

The movie’s still pretty new and there’s no reason you shouldn’t go see it. Why is that? Because Iron Man 2 is absolutely incredible. Now, don’t think for an instant that this is going to be some pretentious film student’s golden revelation – far from it. Iron Man 2 does not try to be Citizen Kane. It’s funny, fast-paced, exceptionally well-executed from start to finish, but it’s still a comic book movie and liberties are taken. However, this doesn’t stop the movie from being fun. Downey Jr. and Paltrow have a riotously funny character relationship, with one easily bouncing off the other – the former being a sharp-witted stoic and the latter, frantic and emotional. This led into one or two scenes where the dialog was shot back and forth so rapidly it became difficult to hear everything that was said (particularly when they spoke over each other) but the scenes just worked because it came off as so natural.

Speaking from an aesthetic standpoint, Iron Man 2 eclipses its predecessor in just about every way. My personal favorite element therein is easily the computer system Tony Stark uses in his lab – the strange melding of environmental and touch interfaces creates not only an amusing, but eye-catching array of movement and light that ended up being really spectacular. In other areas – namely the fight scenes – the movement and explosions were so well-choreographed, it took some time for the logic to set in that formula-one racers do NOT explode on contact with one another.

The soundtrack mostly consisted of scores done by AC/DC, Queen and other 70s/80s classic rock bands – much to my delight. If this isn’t your cup of tea, I don’t know what to tell you other than it really sets fight scenes up well when the main character is toting super-powerful battle armor.

Though, my personal favorite element of the movie was how Tony Stark was really humanized in this movie. Throughout the first, he was seen as much more heartless, unflappable and generally awesome. This is not a bad thing, but I was really surprised how well they took Tony Stark’s alcoholism and in an amazingly subtle way, emphasized his human weaknesses. He was scared to die, lost and confused and lacked the skills to interact with other people in a proper way, but they really brought him down to Earth in this one and made one of the most heartwarming scenes I’ve seen in a movie in quite some time.

All-in-all, Iron Man 2 is a solid super hero flick worth every penny in spite of paying 8 bucks for a matinee showing. If you’re a fan of super heroes, definitely go see it. If you’re just a little interested, go and check it out anyways. It has fantastic characterization, a solid script, great effects, an epic soundtrack and just plain fun from start to finish. A solid title for this summer’s movie collection, hands down.

Written by: Jeff M.

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