Friday, May 14, 2010

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2

Me: I'm an old school comic book geek. Actually, I'm kind of just a geek in general, but when you qualify your geekiness with something it seems to make it a little more palatable. I haven't really been in comics for a number of years, but I used to read, collect and bag and board my comics. I obsessed about my collection, then sold it one day. I sold it to a comic book shop (these were pre-eBay days), which was probably the worst selling mistake one could make. I took a huge hit on the value of the comics and got burned on any "monetary value" that comics held from that point on. However, I still kept reading them for a while afterwards, but no longer cared about what they were worth. After I read a book, I gave it away. I started to enjoy comics for the story and art and it really made them a lot more fun than obsessing about what was going to be worth anything.

One more quick side-note story before I get into the movie, and really it is not really related to Iron Man, but I think it is an amusing story. Anyhow, I read and collected comics in high school. This was shortly before Tim Burton's Batman made it to the theaters, so this was before the quasi-surge of comics being "cool". Anyhow, I was in my local comic shop and ran into Mr. Leverit, one of my high school science teachers at the comic shop. It is always weird seeing a teacher out of school and seeing one in a comic book shop was even weirder. We grunted out greeting to one another and that was it. Then, the next day at school during a lab, he called me up to his desk while everyone was working. Now, when a student is called up before a class like that, you assume they are getting in trouble (I assumed I was in trouble for something) and everyone in class looked to see what was happened as they didn't want to miss me getting yelled at for something. So I went up and stood before his desk, with everyone in class's eyes on me, and looked at Mr. Leverit and in the fearful and hesitant voice of one ready to be yelled at for unknown reasons, I said, "Yes?" He looked at me and said, "What do you think about the new Batman Year Three storyline? Do you think that it's any good and do you think that it will be worth anything?" I shrunk before his desk. Every eye in the class was on me. I would have rather been yelled at for something I didn't do and tried to pull off a rebel student rep from it. Instead, I was the geeky class member whose science teacher was asking for his advice on the value and reading worth of Batman comic books.

Needless to say, I was not the cool guy in my high school.

Anyhow, even when reading comics, I never really read Iron Man. I was familiar with the storylines and knew a few things, like that Tony Stark was an alcoholic and that he had health issues. The thing about most Marvel universe characters as opposed to DC universe characters is that there are human elements and human failings in their heroes. The DC universe is more mythological, with most heroes (except Batman) to be almost like Greek Gods and above human failings. To me, this has always made the Marvel titles more interesting.

I didn't see the first Iron Man movie in the theater, but caught it on video. It surprised me at how good it was. It is silly and over-the-top, but it is probably my favorite of the comic book movies to date. Robert Downey Jr. really is an amazing actor and has the charisma to make Tony Stark interesting and fun to watch. However, it turns out that usually the scenes with Tony Stark end up being much more interesting than the scenes with Iron Man in them. But the first movie was surprisingly fun. I probably like it more than I should because it caught me by surprise. My expectations were low, especially since I don't have any childhood nostalgia pertaining to Iron Man. But it hurdled that bar by so much that I probably inflated my opinion on it because of that.

That being said, this is a sequel, so my expectations were once again lowered. So, the bar was pretty low on the high jump, and the movie cleared it, but barely. There are no surprise record jumps on this one. The movie is passable, but barely. Once again, Robert Downey Jr. is much more interesting out of the suit than in it. But one thing of note for this movie (and probably why it was passable) is that there is much more story and build up than actual action. The vast majority of the movie is Downey out of the suit. Unfortunately, though, the storylines are a little dull and nothing spectacular.

One of the things that I liked about the movie is the plotline that Stark is called before a Congressional Committee to give testimony about the fact that a weapon capable of taking out a modern army has been developed and is controlled by a single corporation. I like looking at comic books with this eye of "realism". However, the downside of this is that the "realism" is not consistent for when the "Stark Expo" is attacked, all I could think about was the fact that every single attendee at the Expo has such a huge lawsuit on their hands that would effectively drain all of Stark's money and fold his company in a moment, if the stock dropping of Stark's company didn't already plummet from the attack didn't already collapse the corporation.

The action is so-so, but it is definitely cartoon violence (fighting robots) rather than the dark, grim violence that the modern Batman movies present. There is also a build up towards the eventual Avengers movie, which I have to say impresses me with Marvel's foresight and planning. In fact, if you hang around through the really long credits, you'll see a scene that sets up the next Marvel comic book movie: Thor. Thor, by the way, will probably tank. Personally, I love Norse Myths, but the Marvel universe Thor is just a nerd. I don't see a lot of interest in it.*

One of the things that I noticed in the movie, however, was product placement. Dr. Pepper cans were strewn about the set. But what most confused me was Kodak's tie-in. When they showed the exterior shot establishing the "Stark Expo" which is supposed to be the pinnacle of technology and advancement, they had a digital billboard outside in the background that had the Kodak logo on it advertising and selling a roll of camera film. This struck me as odd because: A) Kodak no longer produces Kodacrome camera film. B) The movie came out after Kodak stopped producing film. And C) the Stark Expo is supposed to be the pinnacle of technology and they are advertising film for camera instead of digital camera technology there?

Molly: (As usual, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterwards to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think of the movie, "Iron Man 2"?
Molly: It was good.

Chuckie: What was good about it?
Molly: When they got friends again.

Chuckie: Do you mean when the two men in the Iron Man suits stopped fighting each other?
Molly: Yeah, and they got friends again.

Chuckie: What was your favorite part of the movie?
Molly: Um, the airplane one.
Chuckie: What airplane one?
Molly: I mean that part of the movie.
Chuckie: Okay. I'm not sure what you are talking about though, Pixie.
Molly: Airplanes! Do I need to tell you in your ear? (She leans in, grabs my head to pull it to her and puts her mouth up to my ear as if to whisper. However, she does not whisper.) The airplanes in the movie!
Chuckie: Okay, okay! Don't yell in Daddy's ear.
Molly: Sorry, Daddy.
Chuckie: That's okay. So what did you like about the airplanes in the movie?
Molly: One of them was flying in the air.

Chuckie: Was there anything you didn't like about the movie?
Molly: Yeah. The bad guy.

Chuckie: What about him didn't you like.
Molly: The one bad guy was trying to hurt Iron Man. And that wasn't nice. And I was like "Huh? Don't fight him. He's the good guy!" And that's why I said boo for him.

Chuckie: Yeah, you booed him in the movie.
Molly: Yeah, and I said "Yay!" for Iron Man.

Chuckie: So, what happened in the movie?
Molly: Hey Dad, I know what those number are. (She points to a box of sandwich baggies that I have on the upper shelf of my desk (it's there for bagging game components). There is a 50 crossed out and in big red letters is reads "62" over it.) It says: Two. Six. Daddy, what does two-six mean?
Chuckie: You're reading it backwards, Sweetie. It says six-two. That means sixty two.
Molly: Whoa! That's a lot.

Chuckie: So, what happened in the movie, Pixie.
Molly: Um, Iron Man had a beard like you do, Daddy. (She reaches up and traces my goatee.) But his went like this. (She traces a zig-zag edge along my goatee then traces her finger up around where Tony Stark had a mustache, but I do not.)
Chuckie: Yeah. Should I grow my beard like Iron Man?
Molly: No. Because I want you to be my Daddy.

Chuckie: So, what was your favorite part of the movie?
Molly: Um. My favorite part was the girl.
Chuckie: Which girl?
Molly: The one in the movie, you silly goof! When Iron Man brought her strawberries. That one. She got strawberries as a present.
Chuckie: Did she like the strawberries? (They were a minor plot point in the movie used to illustrate how Tony Stark didn't know anything about those supposedly closest to him.)
Molly: Um, yes and no. I forget.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate the movie?
Molly: I want to do stars now, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay, Pixie. I just say that so that you can rate it however you want.
Molly: (Narrowing her eyes and crossing her arms across her chest and blurting out determinedly.) Stars!

Chuckie: Okay, how many stars would you give the movie?
Molly: Five.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of... Um... You say it, Daddy.

Chuckie: No, Pixie, you have to tell me how many.
Molly: Um, thirteen. Daddy, now the moons.

Chuckie: Okay, how many moons would you give the movie?
Molly: Six moons.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of twenty. Hey! We forgot the suns! (She starts to sing a song she made up. I tried to keep up my typing with her singing, but I missed at least one verse.)
Sun, sun, sun days.
Sun, sun, sun days.
There will always be sun days.
Sun, sun, sun, please come back tomorrow.
Sun, sun, sun, sunny days.
Now that you can come back today!

Chuckie: (Laughing a bit at her song, especially at the futility of trying to keep up with it while typing and also at the fact that "today" ends on a very long, drawn out high note that is apparently very much out of my daughter's range.)
Molly: Hey! That's not a funny song. It's a very serious song, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay. Sorry, Pixie. So, many suns does it get?
Molly: This is going to be a lot, Daddy.
Chuckie: Okay.
Molly: Twelve-Sixty two.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Thirteen.

Chuckie: Do you think people would like this movie?
Molly: Mm-hm.

Chuckie: Would do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Um. Ellen Wilkinson. Her at my school.
Chuckie: Why would she like it?
Molly: Because her four.

Chuckie: So, four year olds would like the movie?
Molly: Mm-hm. And Jacob. Because he's four too. And Brice because he's four too. Those are how many kids are four. And Edison and Mason. But Edison is five, but five year olds would like it too.

Chuckie: Is there anything else that you want to tell people about the movie?
Molly: Yeah. It was too loud. All of it was loud, so you had to hold my ears, Daddy.

So, that's our review. I think the movie is passable, but barely. It lacks the charm and fun of the first Iron Man movie. The storylines are rather dull in the movie, but Downey at least is charming enough to hold your attention on the screen. The action scenes are not dominant in the movie, but that is fine, since they are all rather hum-drum anyhow. And while they added War Machine and a couple of SHIELD operatives as allies in the movie, it did not quite fall into the comic book sequel trap and have too many new characters and villains in the movie just to sell toys, even if it destroys any chance of a story or plot. And I'm still not exactly thrilled with Samuel Jackson (who I love) as Nick Fury. It just doesn't work for me. Oh, and perhaps it was just our theater, but it was one very loud movie. It wasn't just Molly's sensitive ears that were annoyed by that. The violence in the movie was comic book and fantastic for the most part and was primarily against robots and things rather than threatening people. As the movie ended and we sat through the credits, Molly wanted us to pretend that we were Iron Man and War Machine (I was Iron Man, probably because of my beard, and she was "that other one"). So she seemed to like it and was definitely involved in the plot of the movie, asking a lot of good questions along the way.

I give it two and a half out of five stars, and commend the movie for going with more plot than action, but just wish that the plot was actually a bit more interesting.
Molly gives is five out of thirteen stars, six out of twenty moons and twelve-sixty two out of thirteen moons. Apparently four year olds will love this movie, especially her friends at pre-school. And despite my apparent similarity in beards with Tony Stark, I should not grow a mustache like he had.

*Postscript Note: Since writing this, I found out that my wife apparently loves Thor. So, I suppose that I underestimated how many people might actually enjoy a Thor movie. With my wife now on board, that increases the total people looking forward to that movie to two: her and the little girl from Adventures in Babysitting.

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