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Peter T Chattaway

Iron Man 2

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The Los Angeles Times says it's looking like this film could have a very, very, VERY good opening weekend, and along the way it notes:

Thanks in part to Downey, the Paramount-distributed film is drawing as much (strong) interest among women over 30 as it is among women in their 20s, the tracking surveys show.

Yeah, I can testify to that. My wife and my sister -- both in their 30s -- made a point of seeing Sherlock Holmes a few months ago, partly because of Downey, and they loved it. They also almost bumped into my mother-in-law, who happened to be seeing the same movie at the same time. (We didn't find out that they had all gone to the same screening until afterwards.)

See also my blog post from two years ago on the original Iron Man as a sort of "romantic comedy".

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Screenwriter Justin Theroux on why this movie DOESN'T follow the 'Demon in a Bottle' storyline:

Demon in the Bottle...That works really well in the comics. It's just a great, gritty storyline. It doesn't transfer to film. We didn't want to be the Leaving Las Vegas version of Iron Man 2. Even just a little bit of that can completely dominate the story. We have him drinking in the movie; we have him out of control. We have the self-destructive ticking clock...That's how we landed on his illness, that it's the metaphor for a man who's running out of steam and needs his friends to step up. Whereas, if we ran right toward the Demon in the Bottle story, nobody wants to see Tony like that...We realized that in a comic book you can have one key-frame where it's a guy, drunk, but in a movie, that's gotta be a big scene and it's gotta be addressed. A thirteen year old kid does not want to see drunken Tony.

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And so it begins:

Variety:

...isn't as much fun as its predecessor, but by the time the smoke clears, it'll do.

... while the first go-round for this lesser-known Marvel hero benefited from its freshness and visual flair, the beats here are more familiar, the pacing more uneven.

There are enough fun moments in Jon Favreau's playful direction (from Justin Theroux's workmanlike script) and Downey's performance... to satisfy a weekend audience, but one needs a forgiving nature to get past the flabby midsection.

All told, "Iron Man 2" suffers the same fate as many a sequel. ... the new pic feels more duty-bound and industrial.

Jeffrey Wells:

An HE commenter named "t.w." says the following: "Iron Man 2 is a bit of a mess. Too much squeezed in. Definitely not as enjoyable as the first. I found Downey fairly irritating in this, and Don Cheadle (who replaces Terrence Howard) looked like he would rather be anywhere else. The movie it reminded me of most is Spiderman 3. It will make a fortune at the box office as the masses will eat it up, etc., but it's a major disappointment to add to this year's already long list of failures. At least it isn't in 3D."
Edited by Overstreet

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The Fanboys...

Simon Brew at Den of Geek - 3 out fo 5 stars.

You... get confirmation that Jon Favreau is a director who can genuinely handle action and special effects with real skill (as was, of course, originally proven in the brilliant, underappreciated Zathura).

What you don’t get however, which may just have been a little unrealistic to expect, is perhaps what you most wanted: a comic book movie that can be mentioned in the same breath as The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2 or X2. Instead, by generous compensation, you do get a fun two hours, thanks to an ambitious movie that feels top to bottom like it was made by people who seem to love films such as these as much as you and I.

Harry Knowles at AICN: Harry says IRON MAN 2 hits the sweet spot over and over again!

We may not have a lot of Comic Book awesome coming this summer, but frankly - this is all I need. I'll be seeing this a bunch - and I can not wait to see this movie destroy my nephew's brain tomorrow night. Seriously - his 9 year old noggin just will not be able to process how great this is.

The Critics...

Kirk Honeycutt at The Hollywood Reporter

Well, that didn't take long. Everything fun and terrific about "Iron Man," a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel. In its place, "Iron Man 2" has substituted noise, confusion, multiple villains, irrelevant stunts and misguided story lines. A film series that started out with critical and commercial success will have to settle for only the latter with this sequel. Robert Downey Jr.'s return as Tony Stark/Iron Man will assure that.

Neil Smith at Total Film

Around 40 minutes in, Iron Man 2 is shaping up to be the best comic-book movie ever. Robert Downey Jr is nailing every scene as returning hero Tony Stark, Scarlett Johansson has made a slinky impression as his new assistant Natalie and Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash – a heavily tatted Russian with a grudge against Robert as big as his biceps – has brought the Monaco Grand Prix to a devastating halt with his electric cat o’ nine tails. So far, director Jon Favreau and Tropic Thunder scribe Justin Theroux have not put a foot wrong. If this keeps up, you think, we may just have another X2 or Dark Knight on our hands.

But that’s about to change. Because the next hour of Favreau’s follow-up to his 2008 hit is surprisingly dull – a wasteland of nothing much that makes you wonder if the dodgy mechanics imperilling Tony’s life have somehow spread to the camera...

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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Simon Brew wrote:

: What you don’t get however, which may just have been a little unrealistic to expect, is perhaps what you most wanted: a comic book movie that can be mentioned in the same breath as The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2 or X2.

All of which, it should be noted, were able to end on middle-chapter-of-trilogy-style cliffhangers. Iron Man 2 can't do that because the filmmakers had to make way for The Avengers first. (Of course, given how bad Spider-Man 3 and X-Men 3 turned out to be, it may be for the best that Iron Man 2 doesn't set up an Iron Man 3. Time will tell if Batman 3 manages to avoid the threequel curse.)

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I wasn't entirely crazy about the first IRON MAN, but was hoping that IRON MAN 2 would come along and kick things up a notch. Guess not. But when the guiding hand behind your franchise is Jon Favreau, I suppose that mediocrity really should be the expectation.

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The Iron Man 2 trailers have been profoundly underwhelming to me, and these early reviews seem to bear that out. But at least it won't be as bad as Transformers 2. I can say that with confidence even now.

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Unless the pendulum swings the other way in the next couple of days of reviews, I think I'm going to skip the press screening and focus on better bets.

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Poop.

I wanted to like this ...

I wasn't entirely crazy about the first IRON MAN, but was hoping that IRON MAN 2 would come along and kick things up a notch. Guess not. But when the guiding hand behind your franchise is Jon Favreau, I suppose that mediocrity really should be the expectation.

Yep, this is about right. I was less, um, whelmed by Iron Man than a lot of people, although I did enjoy it quite a bit, but I hoped that getting the origin story out of the way would pave the way for better things. I hoped, too, that having had such a surprise success with the first one they would take extra care to get the second one right. Oh well.

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The Iron Man 2 trailers have been profoundly underwhelming to me, and these early reviews seem to bear that out. But at least it won't be as bad as Transformers 2. I can say that with confidence even now.

Yeah, the trailers are horrible, way too cartoony, but I catch myself because I wasn't a big fan of the first film and figure my tastes are out of step for the Iron Man crowd. Seems like the film lives down to the trailers.

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The Iron Man 2 trailers have been profoundly underwhelming to me, and these early reviews seem to bear that out. But at least it won't be as bad as Transformers 2. I can say that with confidence even now.

Yeah, the trailers are horrible, way too cartoony, but I catch myself because I wasn't a big fan of the first film and figure my tastes are out of step for the Iron Man crowd. Seems like the film lives down to the trailers.

Yeah, I generally try not to jump to conclusions about a movie based on the trailers. But in the case of the first Iron Man, I thought the trailers (especially the longer, 2nd version) were really awesome--certainly more appealing than any other trailer I'd ever seen for a Marvel comics movie--and the film actually delivered on that promise. The Iron Man 2 trailers just look overcrowded and ugly, especially every shot with Mickey Rourke in it.

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The Guardian asks: Iron Man 2: the first superhero film of the Obama era?

It's an interesting essay, despite some dodgy bits. (Despite some ambiguating language, the author connects both Unbreakable and the X-Men franchise to the 1990s era of Batman and Spawn, then heralds Spider-Man as the beginning of a new day for super heroes after the collapse of the 1990s Bat-franchise. It is more plausible to see X-Men (opening in 2000) that marks the new beginning after 1990s Batman (with Unbreakable, also a 2000 film, kind of standing alone in its own Shyamalanian frame of reference).)

Batman Begins was an essay on the tactical and strategic uses of fear while The Dark Knight showed how pre-emptive strikes on conventional threats (in this case organised crime) could have unintended, wildly asymmetrical consequences (the Joker). Superman Returns was framed as an abdication-crisis story, as in some ways was Hancock ...

There was a sense here of the superhero – and, by extension, America – as Frankenstein. It's not just that the Hulk looks like Mary Shelley's monster or that Will Smith's Hancock went to see the Boris Karloff movie: these films were concerned with the idea that massive physical power can be destructive as well as redemptive. One conspicuous exception was 2008's Iron Man. The only such film to take the war on terror as its explicit backdrop, it was also the most purely escapist blockbuster of the genre. ...

The superhero movies of the Bush era showed America grappling with the limits of power. Iron Man 2 suggests a country anxious and uncertain about what lies at its core and beyond its reach, and with a taste for the comforts of nostalgia.

FWIW.

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It's difficult to comment on another person's commentary without seeing the actual film itself yet, but as for this bit:

SDG wrote:

: . . . the author . . . then heralds Spider-Man as the beginning of a new day for super heroes after the collapse of the 1990s Bat-franchise. It is more plausible to see X-Men (opening in 2000) that marks the new beginning after 1990s Batman . . .

Possibly. X-Men feels more like a transitional film to me. It's certainly of a different calibre than the Superman, Batman and Spider-Man films, all of which focused on stand-alone heroes. X-Men was also much more of a political allegory than the superhero films that came immediately before and after it.

Oh, and FWIW, the word is out: This film, like the previous Marvel films, will have a post-credits Easter Egg that hints at future films.

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Hmmm, for the first time ever I think I may be one of the first to see a big tentpole film. Thanks to the vagaries of overseas distribution IRON MAN 2 opened in Thailand today.

The verdict is that if you enjoyed the first one, you'll probably enjoy this one. I was not head over heels with the first film, but I did enjoy it for what it was. I feel like this film delivers pretty much more of the same. I think when viewed as a piece, some of those who are underwhelmed with this one as a sequel will see that it is pretty seamless with the first film (even with the change in casting of Col. James Rhodes). It doesn't kick things up a notch. Nor is it a horrible disappointment. It's funny. The tech is cool.

That said, it's not like I don't have some issues with the film. Some of the actors here are pretty flat (particularly one whose body is appealingly curvy). And I've never been entirely comfortable with the unbridled capitalist jingoism of Tony Stark ("I've successfully privatized world peace.") This film tries to have things both ways once again with the evil military industrialist Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Since the Iron Man films have really focused on the technological aspects of Stark Enterprises and real-world reminders (references to CNN, Starbucks, etc.) I'm curious to see how it will gel with the other more fantastic Marvel characters.

The post-credits scene involves the discovery of Thor's hammer).

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Our Man in Thailand! Thanks, Anders!

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I was a big fan of the first one and I thought that this was a worthy successor (released in Bolivia today! suck it Yanqui :P ) If I were to start with the weaknesses I would agree that Black Widow was a bit flat (gosh that woman is gorgeous though!) and I thought that Cheadle never really got into the role. He really seemed a lot less enthusiastic about being War Machine than you might expect, until his last line perhaps. On the other hand though, it's a role that he certainly doesn't seem to seek out, but is instead kind of forced into it. I also figured out Tony's "big discovery" about 30 minutes before he did.

The positives? I thought it was very funny. The Senate hearing, the Bill O'Reilly segment. Plenty of good jokes throughout really. The last fight was also excellent I thought. I even liked it better than the one in the first movie. There's a great, incredibly iconic, shot just before it concludes, with leaves blowing through the air and a scene composition that seems ripped right off a comic page. You'll know it when you see it; I thought it was stunning. I'm also really excited by the build-up to The Avengers that is incorporated into this.

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'Nightmare,' 'Iron Man' lead US, overseas bills

LOS ANGELES - Freddy Krueger is raking in cash at the box office again, while Robert Downey Jr.'s "Iron Man 2" got off to a big start overseas. . . .

Paramount's "Iron Man 2" got an international head start on its domestic debut this Friday, pulling in $100.2 million in 53 foreign markets. While Hollywood blockbusters typically open around the same date in most countries, some get an overseas jump of a week or more on their U.S. debuts.

"Iron Man 2" brought in $12.2 million in Great Britain, $10.8 million in South Korea, $8.8 million in Australia and $8.2 million in France. According to Paramount, the sequel had bigger openings than 2008's "Iron Man" in every market. . . .

Associated Press, May 3

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FWIW, Kyle Smith says this film is "far superior to 'Iron Man.'"

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Huh, I'm curious to hear Smith expand on what he specifically thought was so much better. My feeling is that those who prefer it are fans of War Machine and don't like origin stories. I think those who are backlashing had an overinflated view of the first film, or were dazzled by the novelty of seeing a second-tier hero like Iron Man given a respectable treatment. Me, I liked the first film, and thought the second film was pretty much of pace with the first. I find it hard to understand these views that see the second one as being so different (bad or good). I can see that one other difference is that I thought the first film dragged a bit in the early going, while the second film is pretty jam packed (and a bit scattered TBH). However, as far as acting and special effects go, I don't think they traded up or down much.

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I like it better than the original too.

I agree that the backlash is an overreaction to inflated praise of the first film, which is fun and enjoyable but not brilliant. This isn't brilliant either, but it's more entertaining. Better villain(s), better and more action, more humor. Great first half hour, more satisfying climax.

Cheadle is a better Rhodey (funny intro). SLJ is over the top as Fury, as expected (Lawrence Fishburne would have been better, but I guess he's too old and fat). SJ's Black Widow isn't much more than gratuitous eye candy, but I accept this as a side effect of a cinematic crossover Marvel universe building toward an Avengers movie. And even as gratuitous eye candy she sparks some entertaining interaction between Tony and Pepper. Gwyneth Paltrow again saves the day. She's the franchise's secret weapon.

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I'm glad to see someone else praising Paltrow, who did indeed provide the film's beating heart, at least for me. The sparks between her and Downey are far more impressive than any of the action footage or special effects.

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I like it better than the original too.

I agree that the backlash is an overreaction to inflated praise of the first film, which is fun and enjoyable but not brilliant. This isn't brilliant either, but it's more entertaining. Better villain(s), better and more action, more humor. Great first half hour, more satisfying climax.

I felt like the first film kind of forgot to make an obvious antagonist and while we knew Stark and Stane would butt heads, the final conflict felt sort of... fabricated. But I did enjoy the first film and felt it;s general upbeat approach was a nice counterpoint to the Dark Knight.

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Oh, plus! "Discussing it in a committee" has become a pet peeve of mine ever since The Phantom Menace. It's my theory that sequels get bogged down in committee meetings because over time the back story tends to overwhelm the needs of the plot. The third Pirates of the Caribbean and (IIRC) Matrix movies suffered from this "committee meeting" syndrome.

Iron Man 2 opens with a committee meeting. But what a committee meeting! It's one of the highlights of the film. :) How many sequels can say that?

I felt like the first film kind of forgot to make an obvious antagonist and while we knew Stark and Stane would butt heads, the final conflict felt sort of... fabricated. But I did enjoy the first film and felt it;s general upbeat approach was a nice counterpoint to the Dark Knight.

Yes. As per this.

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