Friday, May 7th, 2010 at 1:30 pm
Pause in advance. Last night was the second time I came while watching a non prOn related flick on the big screen. Double pause that.
Even though the Internets already let the cat out of the bag, from when said cat became a Twitter trending topic, wait through the credits.
Following up from the eye candy that was Kick-Ass, another, more anticipated Marvel property, Iron Man 2 hits theaters this weekend. I hope you already got tickets, only because I’m seeing this breaking box office records this Mother’s Day weekend. If you saw Iron Man, you already know Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Spark personified. Long story short, IM2 takes place shortly after the events that transpired in the first one, Tony Starks is now dealing with the government pressing him to give up his Iron Man technology. Leading the political witch-hunt is Senator Stern from Pennsylvania played to perfection by Gary Shandling. Also on Stark’s heels is Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a competing industrialist who has hate in his blood for how Stark is the billionaire playboy who “privatized home security” by exclusively having the greatest piece of technology this side of the iPad. Hammer so wants to be Stark to the point he’d do anything to have a piece of his success and fame. Shandling and Rockwell absolutely kill their roles as supporting actors. They play real world people doing real world things when the issue of potential weapons of mass destruction becomes a hot topic politically and in the press.
Aside from the mundane (but most important) subplots, Tony Stark has a major problem in the character known as Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke). See, Tony’s was born rich, his late father Howard Stark being the inventor that founded Stark Industries. Howard Stark invented and capitalized off the integral device, an “arc reactor”, that Tony eventually uses to develop the Iron Man technology and suit. Ivan’s father, Anton Vanko (Yevgeni Lazarev) was once Howard’s former business partner and developed the arc reactor and passed it on to Howard before he got his Russkie ass deported back to his homeland of the Soviet Union. Sick, broken, destitute and on his deathbed, Anton reminds Ivan that the Stark legacy is shady, that Ivan rightfully deserves to be in the limelight, not Tony. From the gate, as Anton reacts to his father’s death and swears revenge against the Stark name, you already know Tony is going to have issues. Painful brutal deadly ones. The emotions that Rourke infuses into his role is touching, and in the short few moments that he’s been on screen, you already feel for him, his situation. You also fear him. Visually, Rourke has always been an imposing figure, intimidating. The older he gets, the scarier he becomes. Add to that the fact that he is one of the best actors out today, the depth he brings to life, as Vanko, and the weaponry he’s equipped with as the super villain he becomes, Whip Lash… shit is looking fearsome. Rourke easily makes the role of Anton Vanko his bitch.
For the record, Mickey Rourke needs to be in every made made from this point on. Even the Tyler Perry ones.
Oh yeah, that arc reactor Tony has implanted in his chest from the last movie, it’s now poisoning his body and is causing him to die slowly. Just another problem that Tony has to work through before this 2 hour and four minute flick wraps up.
With all that out of the way, the main question is “how was it?” IM2 is one of those movies that respects the history of Iron Man, the loyal comic book readers and, most importantly, the movie goers in how it was casted. Not focused solely on being a mindless blockbuster, director Jon Favreau (a noted Iron Man fan himself) made this movie a winner way before they shot the first scene. EVERY actor in this piece is top notch, and it shows in every scene, every interaction. Tony’s long time assistant and sometimes love interest Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow completes the manic, brilliant, narcissistic and self deprecating Stark in every way, kind of like how Renee Zellweger did Tom Cruise in that Jerry Maguire movie. Now I like my action movies hard core and raw dog, [||], and have always detested the requisite love interest side stories that Hollywood suits clumsily throw in the mix (the Spiderman movie franchise comes to mind). In this flick, the human interaction is far more important to the story than the action scenes. Which makes sense, being as how the actual Iron Man is just an electronic suit worn by an incredibly fascinating human being. Truth be told, most of the dramatic/comedic scenes without the suit, without the action come off far greater than the scenes we thought we paid our money to see.
Don Cheadle as Tony’s best friend Col. James Rhodes, the man who dons the Iron Man suit formally known as the War Machine. Brilliant. Truth be told, ever since his breakout performance as Mouse in the 1995 movie Devil In A Blue Dress, Cheadle has been my favorite Black actor. More than Denzel. For 15 years I’ve wondered (and worried) that Cheadle would walk the road most brilliantly talented Blacks actors have walked, a journey of critical acclaim that leads to forgotten obscurity. There’s been speculation and rumors as to why Terrence Howard who played Rhodes in the last movie was let go. I don’t give a flying fuck why, I’m just glad they did. Not that I have anything against Howard, but he can’t hold a candle to Cheadle. To see Cheadle finally flex his thespian fleaux in a superhero flick is like a lil angel encouraging me that good things do come to those who wait, and that the nice guy doesn’t always finish last, and that later is greater. With regard to who played the role better, to his credit Howard came off very believably as Stark’s best friend. Cheadle comes off not only as being Tony’s bff, but also as the no nonsense military man that will put God and country before all, even his friendship with Stark. And like how that Mouse character made us all realize he was the wrong ni**a to eff with, Cheadle brings the same “I will body you” intensity to Rhodes, to War Machine. Plus, I’m all about keeping the darker skinted cats on top and in the spot light, you light skints already have Obama, and it took us a long time to get over the brown paper bag skin tone test barrier, so darker skinted Cheadle ftw.
I’m not that much attracted to white women. Sorry Byron. But Scarlett Johansson would be that one Ice Queen that might make sisters give me the side eye as I’d be sporting her in public, way more shamelessly than Ice T does Coco. 4 words: Scarlett. Johansson. is. beautiful. As comic book Russian agent Natasha Romanoff, better known as the costumed super spy Black Widow, Johansson is incredible. Usually in a story like this, the suits will throw any old character in, just to make the flick more bankable. Here, Johansson has me counting down the minutes between her on screen appearances. I. just. want. to. look. at. her. Like a stalker does his prey. The sexual tension between her and Starks is spot on. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they keep her in further sequals as well as in the growing Avengers storyline that Marvel has been flawless in pulling together.
Sam Jackson as Nick Fury works. Only because the comic book character we see was specifically based on Samuel Jackson, the actor. And as such, Nick Fury is playing Sam Jackson. And as always, Sam Jackson always plays Sam Jackson in every movie he’s in (except for that Star Wars role from a couple years back).
I already hinted that even without the action scenes/ special effects shits and giggles that IM2 would have been enough. But that’s not to say said scenes is basura. They rock. When Iron Man, with jets ablaze, cgi’d and all takes command, well it’s pure visual eye candy. And when Rourke bum rushes the set as Whip Lash, your mouths will fucking drop. Drool spit and all. The Whip Lash/Iron Man fight scene is one of the best action sequences I’ve witnessed. How Rourke pwns Iron Man makes a lot of sense. And as gully as a back alley, after school, Brooklyn chick fight. War Machine is nothing but gallons of bonus shots. Whether in physically testing who’s better, War Machine or Iron Man, it’s the shit that fans like me pray nightly to our comic gods to see. Favreau earns his stripes a comic book fan, as he delivers action in the way you’d only see in a superb Marvel Iron Man comic book. Oh yeah, the part where War Machine and Iron Man team up against the bad guys is the part where I think I came. [||].
The non cgi fight scenes, some including Rourke as Whip Lash and when Black Widow goes into action rocked me. And they will rock you. Not for nothing, the non cgi fight scenes might be greater than the cgi ones. And the parts when Black Widow breaks shit up, well I think I remember those as being the parts when I came again. And again. Double [||]. 4 words: Scarlett. Johansson. is. beautiful.
Some asked me if IM2 was the best super hero sequel ever. No, it’s not. But only in that, work with me, it’s the first non-superhero, superhero movie I’ve seen of its type. The superb casting, the acting completely makes this movie. The action and special effects is gravy, the stuff for the kids and the perpetually immature grown folk like me. I guarantee no one will leave this piece disappointed. IM2 is a fun, happy movie, THE superhero movie for everyone. The character of Tony Stark is complex, and there have indeed been some very dark chapters in his story, and although Downey Jr. brings the fun here, his own very dark past provides us a glimpse into the self destructive nature that Tony Stark is known for. Especially when they bring them dranks out. I’m claiming IM3 won’t be as fun as happy as this. In a good way.
Finally, the jury is still out on this unfolding Avengers story line, mainly because nothing of this scale has ever been successfully captured on film, but the way Marvel is pulling it together, I’m amped as to what the future brings.
Did I mention how, even if there’s a fire up in that bitch, how you NEED to wait through the credits to see the final surprise? Do that. Or go kill yerself with a double blast of repulsor rays.
IM2 is worth every dollar this blockbuster will become. Go see it now, even though I already know you will.
And for them fanboys (of any orientation) and straight men alike, chicks who like action and chicks too, I strongly advise you all to bring your own roll of tissue for them action and Scarlett Johansson scenes respectively. Shit might get wet and sticky. You have been warned. Final [||] B.