Good Charlotte was wrong: girls don’t like cars and money. Girls like guys in suits. Furthermore, they like hot guys in suits, heroes, men of steel, or in this case, iron.
And this is exactly what Hollywood blockbuster, Iron Man 2, gives us: Robert Downey Jnr in body armour, kicking ass. As a classic skop, skiet en donner-flick, it was interesting that the audience of the show I watched was largely female. Perhaps women are embracing their ‘masculine sides’. It could also just be RDJ’s pristine abs. Not that this makes the film ‘girly’ in any sense. As expected, bullets, explosions and fights make up the bulk of the plot.
Downey Jnr reprises his role as rogue hero, Tony Stark, in director Jon Fraveau’s sequel to the wildly successful first Iron Man movie. And, just as before, Stark is bunches of fun. Unlike most superheroes, he does not hide his identity. In fact, he widely broadcasts his status. He’s the antithesis of the geeky Spiderman and tortured Superman – there’s no sign of internal torment as he tries to come to terms with his superhuman abilities (probably because he’s a self-made saviour). He’s an egotistical, pleasure-seeking, womanising son-of-a-bitch and with good reason. The man has, after all, “successfully privatised world peace” with his arms company, Stark Industries, and prevented nuclear war in his metal suit. We wouldn’t want him any other way than the narcissist he is.
However, powerful or not, the hero must always face some difficulty. In the second film, Stark desperately searches for a replacement to the palladium core of his heart and which powers his suit. The one he developed in the first movie is making him ill and weak. To distract him from his quest, is his work colleague, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his new legal advisor, Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson). He also has his intermittent daddy-issues to deal with. And then there is the Russian baddie, played by Mickey Rourke (who’s retained his muscles from The Wrestler), who is out to make Iron Man bleed. And bleed he does. It just takes a little long.
As a pure action film, there is too much pseudo-drama, which distracts from the battles at hand. As I mentioned before, Stark is not the same kind of self-reflecting citizen hero as Batman. Thus, sex would have been a better sub-genre than romance. Miss Potts is a yawn-inducingly boring leading lady and more time should have been given to Johansson’s Natalie Rushman (aka Russian agent Natasha Romanov, aka The Black Widow) who is sizzling. In the Marvel comic series, she seduces Iron Man, and the director could have explored this in the film.
I don’t think it’s unfair to compare a sequel to its predecessor. After all, you make another a second film for a reason, even if it’s only to ride on the succes of the first. Iron Man 2 does kick ass, but only on one butt cheek. It simply lacked a little ‘punch’. To quote Elvis it needs “a little less conversation, a little more action, please.” But, with a soundtrack featuring only classic hard-rockers, AC/DC, and an appearance by the god of ass-whipping himself, Samuel L Jackson, the film hits the spot enough for me to want to punch a fist in the air and yell “Yeah!”
Perfect popcorn-and-candy Saturday night entertainment.
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey Jnr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L Jackson.
Rating: 4 out of 5.