Iron Man 2 is one long insurance adjuster
Damn, I’m torn on this one. There’s good and bad in this movie just as any other, but I’m still not sure which side of the fence I’m on just yet. Maybe by the time I get done writing this I’ll know; let’s see where it goes…
Ok, let’s do the description first: IM2 picks up where the first movie left off. Tony Stark has declared he’s Iron Man, he’s taking on all comers that threaten the security of the US (a very timely topic) and he’s Time Magazine’s person of the year. Life is good for Tony Stark/Iron Man (played once again by Robert Downey Jr.). 6 months go by and having held off the bad guys as well as our government (Garry Shandling’s senator character is trying to take the Iron Man suit from Stark for the military), Stark has officially “privatized world peace”. Things start to go south for our hero when he discovers the energy source that keeps him alive is actually slowly killing him. If that weren’t enough, Stark’s competitor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is making a play for his spot as the go-to weapons guy and Stark is now being hounded by someone from his family’s past out for revenge. Confused yet? Well, it gets thicker…
Let’s start with the good stuff. There’s plenty of action and some great effects. There’s also some beautiful locations and plenty of eye candy. I’m a Marvel comics fan and was enjoying the nods to the upcoming Avengers flick (look for the Captain America shield and be sure to stay until the end of the credits). Samuel L. Jackson appears again as Nick Fury which is always a welcome highlight. The tongue in cheek humor is fun too.
As for the rest, well, the film seems to get a bit bogged down. The storyline is all over the place – Stark’s dying, there’s a new villain (actually 2 of them), there’s a new hottie (Scarlett Johansson), there’s a lot of globe jumping, there’s controversy with the government, there’s controversy with Rhodey (Stark’s best friend played this time by Don Cheadle), there’s controversy with Stark’s real love interest and new CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark has some unresolved daddy issues, Stark’s trying to establish his legacy, oh and there’s the whole maintaining world peace thing. Did you get all that? Yeah, me neither. I know that sequels often try to go bigger than the original, but there is such a thing as too big (see just about anything Michael Bay does). This film suffers from the same syndrome as Spider Man 3, X-men 3, Batman and Robin and others that choose flash over substance, IM2 just got there sooner.
As a director myself, it’s hard to take off those glasses as just a movie goer if the film has too many weak points. If the movie is strong than I have no problem just enjoying the merits of it. My wife heard me complaining about the writing in this movie and she said “well, aren’t a lot of comic book movies written poorly?”. The answer to that is yes, but my retort was that there are plenty of comic book movies that are well written including: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight (which is complex but brilliant and relatively easy to follow), Superman Returns, X-Men 1 and 2, and Spiderman 1 and 2 as well as the first Iron Man. Unfortunately I think the director (Jon Favreau) got a bit too big for his britches on this one and instead of focusing on how many scenes he could work himself into, he should’ve been a bit more concerned with staying behind the lens and focusing more on the substance of the project.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s easy to criticize. So I’ll put my money where my mouth is and tell you what I would have done. The foundation is there, I just would’ve trimmed the fat and focused a bit more on the main villain (Whiplash played by Mickey Rourke), giving him more backstory and more screen time, he’s not in here all that much and mumbles broken english when he is in here, so it’s hard to make a connection to despise him as the villain especially when he’s overshadowed by the Justin Hammer character. I would’ve honed the action a bit more. There is action but I really don’t need to see Scarlett Johansson’s character kicking ass as much as I want to see Iron Man doing it. In fact, I’m really not sure why Scarlett Johansson is even in here other than to add hotness as she doesn’t say much either making her character seem a bit pointless. The main fight at the end goes by too soon. There’s a robot army that gets taken out pretty quickly where there could’ve been a lot more fun with that and the fight with Whiplash is over before you know it too. Just to put it in perspective, Jon Favreau’s body guard character is in a fight that lasts longer than the main Iron Man vs. Whiplash fight at the end. I couldn’t care less about Favreau’s character, much less his action scene (which I would’ve chopped out). C’mon Jon, you’re a talented guy, get your ego in check wouldya?
Then there’s some overly weak moments I would’ve re-tooled. One big one that sticks out: there’s a point where Iron Man needs to take the robot army fight away from a crowd of innocent bystanders. He even says “we have to get away from these people so noone gets hurt” (or something to that effect). So, Iron Man flies out of the building with the robots chasing him only to circle back into the same building and then into the parking lot where everyone is fleeing to get
Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror follows in the serial styled footsteps of the movie Creepshow and the TV show Tales from the Crypt (which gets a nod in the theme song) with 3 stories rolled into 1 collection. Each story is tied together with Snoop serving as the devilish host as well as some anime segments in between to fill in some story gaps. The anime is really nicely done by the way, make sure you don’t go for the bathroom break during those segments.
The individual stories themselves are fun and cheesy as you’d expect from a movie like this with a bit of a tongue in cheek attitude not to be taken too seriously. The first story features revolves around an artist seeking revenge on local gang bangers only to fall victim to her own acts in an ironic twist of fate. The next segment involves a group of veterans that is brutally taken advantage of by a ruthless landlord that gets his just desserts. The final installment features a rapper who’s out of control ego ultimately leads to his demise (Kanye West anyone?).
The writing is average with no surprises and the acting is ok overall but downright bad at times. It seems as some of the actors were phoning this one in or just goofing around having a good time. Then again, they’re not trying to do The Exorcist here – this one is purely for the fun of making a horror film – bad acting, cheesy effects, and some corny story lines are all part of the good times. The cheesy effects are especially fun – I mean c’mon, death by falling on a 40oz. malt that drives through the guy’s head! It doesn’t get any cheesier/better than that, right?
There’s some pretty good names in here acting-wise with the talents of: Snoop Dogg, Ernie Hudson, Billy Dee Williams, Jason Alexander, Method Man and Aries Spears (from MAD TV) included among others.
All-in-all, I wouldn’t bend over backwards to see this but if you happen to be up late at night and there’s nothing else on, it’s worth checking out on Showtime.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
Jim Carrey plays Carl Allen, a man on the wrong side of 40 who’s life isn’t working out for the best… Carl Allen spends his days working at a job currently going nowhere, he’s depressed most of the time and spends a lot of energy on avoiding people including his friends. This avoidance habit gets to the point where he starts to lose his friends who start to tire from his constant excuses on why he can never spend time with them. He always has a “thing” going on, which turns out to be him going home to be alone. The last straw comes when he misses his best friend’s engagement party (played by Bradley Cooper) who threatens to end the friendship unless things change. Carrey’s character is also divorced, not seeing anyone and constantly says no to any offers of getting out and having a real life.
Carl bumps into an old buddy of his who seems to be living life to the fullest since he’s attended a “Yes!” seminar and convinces Carrey’s character to check it out. Once at the seminar, Carrey is singled out by the charismatic head of the Yes movement (Terence Stamp) who challenges him to say yes to everything, no matter what it is. Carrey agrees and starts to apply the Yes edict to every opportunity whether he’s interested or not. From there his life takes off – helping homeless people, taking flying lessons, learning Korean, etc. And on the story goes from there ultimately leading to a new girlfriend, a new vibrant relationship with his friends and some opportunities at his job. He finds yes to be the answer to his problems only to discover it’s not really the answer to everything and that he ultimately has to make his own choices instead of letting one word dictate his life…
Overall, the movie is ok, but unfortunately we’ve seen this story in many ways before. I’m up for movies like this, but this one turned out to be bit pedestrian and formulaic. In fact we’ve seen Carrey play variations to this same character in films such as Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, and The Truman Show. There’s really nothing offered in the way of surprises and the movie plays out pretty much as you’d expect with an anti-climatic finish. Carrey’s performance is average – a bit less manic and a little more depressed than usual. Zooey Deschanel is Allison the love interest and is her usual quirky-but-cute character, also a bit watered down.
The writing is as I mentioned formulaic and predictable; it seems like they just made this movie because an executive somewhere said: “Hey, we haven’t made a 30’s/40’s guy feel good film in about 6 months with Jim Carrey, so we’re due” and then they just burped this one out to get it done and cash in as best they could. The acting and directing are ok, but nothing that stands out or is even very memorable. There are a lot of other films like this out there that feel more genuine and less manufactured than Yes Man, I’d say yes to films like It’s a Wonderful Life, Joe Somebody, or Bruce Almighty instead of this one.
reviewed by Sean McKnight