Besides doing super-fun married stuff like yard work, going to Costco, and leaving the bathroom door open, New Times writers Laura Hahnefeld and Jay Bennett go to the movies.Laura: So I guess there's an Avengers movie coming out.
Jay: Yeah, poor Robert Downey Jr. He looked like he was having so much fun as gajillionaire inventor Tony Stark in 2008's Iron Man. In the sequel, which comes out Friday, he looks like a guy whose own movie was pulled out from under him by the suits at Marvel Comics just so they could sell their next big franchise.
Laura: Apparently to sell it to children judging by the writing and the playground jokes. "You look like two seals fighting over a grape?" Really?
Jay: The one-liners were pretty terrible, but it is a kids movie, so what do you expect? There's just enough big dumb fun in Iron Man 2 to make it a worthy kick-off to the summer blockbuster season. But part of the problem with the sequel is it's just not as smart as the first Iron Man. The sequel lacks the energy and fluidity of the first movie. Even Downey, who singlehandedly made Iron Man the good movie it is, seems to sense it. He's barely even the star in 2. That dubious distinction would seem to belong to Sam Rockwell, who hams it up as Stark's nemesis Justin Hammer.
Laura: Is it a kids movie with Gary Shandling dropping f-bombs (albeit muted ones) and Scarlet "Dead Eyes" Johansson in a bra? Being barren, I'm not in a position to say. At least Don Cheadle as replacement Colonel James Rhodes brought some cred. And let's talk about Samuel L. Jackson...
Jay: I'm sure it was in Sam Jackson's contract that he had to appear in Iron Man 2 to introduce his character in The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury. But Sam Jackson isn't the Sam Jackson we all know and love when he's reined in as much as he is in Iron Man 2. He's just one of the too many characters used in the overstuffed Iron Man 2. All he does is take away valuable screen time from Mickey Rourke (villainous Ivan Vanko), who is underused in Iron Man 2 and whose Hollywood comeback is looking as though it may be as abbreviated as Vanko's character development. The Joker he ain't.
Laura: Which brings us to the anti-climatic showdown...
Jay: Like most of the action set pieces, it doesn't add up to much. There's plenty of action in this movie, but not much of it moved me. The conflict in this movie seemed a little more contrived than even the typical comic book movie. Maybe there's just not much more you can do with the Iron Man character. Unlike say, Batman/Bruce Wayne, Iron Man/Stark just aren't that compelling once you get to know them, which we did in Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's long-suffering assistant, comes off as the only character with more than one dimension. But she's just a supporting player in this franchise. Do you think Iron Man should hang it up after just two movies?
Laura: Iron Man should follow The Dark Knight's lead: do something interesting with the franchise. Your rating for Iron Man 2?
Jay: I'll give it a B-. I wasn't bored and it delivered some of the thrills you want from a comic book movie. Fan boys and kids will love it. I have to admit that I'm just not crazy about Marvel's stable of superheroes. I've already marked my calendar for July 20, 2012, when Batman 3 is slated for release. And you?
Laura: I got bored twice and was disappointed it fell into the trap of so many other sequels: trying to outdo itself by cramming as many characters and plot lines into the story as possible. My favorite part was Tony Stark inventing stuff, which is why I enjoyed the first one so much. Solid C. Still, at least we got to see it with Young MC at the theater. Do you think he liked it?
Jay: We really should've asked him. Is Young MC a movie connoisseur? I guess we'll never know.
Check out the review of Iron Man 2 by Village Voice Media's Nick Pinkerton here.