Mid-Week Review



George Washington once said, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” I confess, I totally made that up, but I bet he wishes he’d said it. At any rate, I’m introducing a few changes to my blog structure this week. In an attempt to keep the content a‘moving, and also provide ‘stuff’ of worth, I’m going to add a few regularly occurring features. The rundown is as follows:

Get Moving Monday – To start each work week I’m going to be offering some general thoughts on the writing world, motivation, some point/counter-point arguments, and essentially post stuff similar to my previous posts.

Mid-Week Review – Every Wednesday I’m going to be reviewing music, movies, and literature. I’ve chosen to review these mediums, because they all inspire my writing in various ways.

Fab Five Friday – I’m going to run through my five favorite writing related web finds from the week. Basically, share with you the stuff that I can’t live without as an aspiring author.

Sound Off Saturday – I’m going to post a poll where you, the readers -okay, by ‘readers’ I mean that one guy that stops by on occasion trying to sell me Nike Air Jordan’s -can share your opinions.

So without further delay (drum-roll please), I give you the inaugural Mid-Week Review:

Iron Man 2 (Movie)


For the sake of full disclosure, you should all know that I’m a sucker for robots that blow stuff up (who isn’t, really?). That being said, it’s no wonder that Iron Man 2 has been on my geek-dar (radar for the cool impaired) for quite some time. The first Iron Man movie (2008) rocked my socks with over the top action sequences, a superb cast, and a surprisingly tight story. So I was looking forward to strapping in and taking an action-packed rollercoaster ride that promised to make the original offering seem like a whirl on the teacups by comparison.

The Story:

Billionaire Tony Stark has it all: money, babes, prestige, and zero conscience. His family (namely his father) has built a fortune manufacturing weapons for, at least in Tony’s mind, the betterment of the world. However, when Tony is mortally injured and kidnapped by a terrorist organization that is determined to destroy the world using weapons manufactured by his own company, he is forced to confront the fact that his family business might be doing more harm than good.

As any good techno-genius-billionaire would do, he sets his know-how and money to work by building a super-suit that is essentially indestructible and also utilizes a power source that keeps him from dying of the injuries he sustained. Now, as Iron Man, he’s vowed to rid the world of violence and taken on the role of ‘world superhero’.

After declaring himself as Iron Man to the world (at the end of the first movie), Iron Man 2 picks up with Stark basking in the glory of his Iron Man success and fame. Unfortunately, he has also garnered the attention of the U.S. government, who would like for him to hand over the technology behind the Iron Man armor (presumably so that they can use it). Stark refuses on the grounds that the world is safer than ever because of Iron Man, and that there’s no need for any other protection. Soon after, Stark is attacked by a madman who has unlocked the secrets of the Iron Man technology and also happens to have a long hate-filled past with the Stark family. Although Stark survives, he finds his life spiraling out of control as he struggles through personal issues (his relationship with his father and his assistant/love interest Pepper), a continued decline in his health (due to the injuries he sustained in the first movie), and the growing realization that he doesn’t have as much control as he once thought.

Will he be able to find the cure for his illness, reconcile with his past, salvage the only meaningful relationship in his life (with Pepper), and stop a super-powered maniac from destroying him?

The Cast:

To be clear, while I’m a fan of comics, the Old Shell Head (as Iron Man is referred to in the picture books) has never been one of my favorite characters. Tony Stark, the man behind the mask, is an over-the-top playboy billionaire who womanizes, drinks, and smarms his way through life. His only real problems seem to be that the technology that he uses to power his super-powered iron suit occasionally gives him fits, he has some daddy issues, and there are a handful of requisite evil bad guys trying to beat him up. In short, his character always seemed too shallow for my taste, and his story not that compelling.

The first Iron Man movie changed that. Most of the credit is undoubtedly due to the performance given by Robert Downey Jr., the actor who portrays Tony Stark. He so comfortably filled the shoes of Stark that I had trouble distinguishing between what I really thought Downey Jr. would be like in real life, and what he was presenting on screen. The most important trait the Downey Jr. brings to Stark (that is lacking in much of the comics, in my opinion) is an inherent likeability. Jr.’s Stark is a funny guy you could imagine throwing back a cold one with at Chili’s just before he runs outside, gets into his Ferrari, and speeds off. He’s real in an ‘ordinary guy who happens to be super-smart and a gabillionaire’ kind of way.

For Iron Man 2, Downey Jr. reprised his role, and delivered an equally humorous and grounded performance. He was also joined by Gwyneth Paltrow, who portrays Pepper Potts, Stark’s assistant/love interest. Paltrow’s performance, while nothing Oscar worthy, is perfectly understated (yet confident), and provides Stark with some much needed humanity. Paltrow also offers an accessible beauty that (so I’m told) the fanboys eat up. In other words: it’s not hard to imagine chatting her (or someone similar) up at the local sports bar or comic shop. Her co-star, Scarlett Johansson, on the other hand offers no such subtlety in her beauty. Johansson appears in the film playing the role of a super spy who has been sent to keep tabs on Stark. She also acts (although somewhat loosely) as a love foil for Stark and Potts. Johansson spends a good portion of the film in revealing clothing and also performs several gymnast-esque fight sequences. Her lines are few, so she serves mostly as eye candy and offers some comedic fodder for the movie.

The villains in this movie are played by the always dirty looking Mickey Rourke and a clean cut Sam Rockwell. Rourke plays as Ivan Vanko, the son of a Russian scientist who vows to destroy Tony Stark for sins the Stark family has committed. Ivan builds his own super-powered suit using Stark’s own technology. Rourke is intense, as always, and displays enough anger to make such an outlandish vendetta believable and feel somewhat less contrived. Rockwell plays as Justin Hammer, an arms manufacturer that sees Stark as his nemesis. Hammer provides Vanko (Rourke) with the means/weapons to defeat Iron Man. Rockwell does an admirable job with a role that seems to be more for comedic relief. Hammer is sort of the Tony Stark wanna-be.

How was the Movie?

The first Iron Man movie set a high bar in the fun department. It’s sort of the anti-Dark Knight, offering glitz over gritty, and humor over brooding. It pulled it off wonderfully. I found Iron Man 2 to be the perfect sequel, surpassing the first in all areas. There was less need to flesh out back story (as is often the case in 2nd movies), so the action starts right away and rarely lets up (something we writers can learn from). There are plenty of laughs, and the special effects will be some of the best you’ve ever seen. It’s a romp that offers more style than substance, but enough of both that you’ll feel satisfied. The soundtrack is filled with rock anthems and the scenes are packed with beautiful people, explosions, and awesome sports cars. The result is that, for a couple of hours at least, you’ll feel like Tony Stark and cheer for Iron Man.

While it’s not perfect (a hint of a drag in the middle when Tony’s life really hits the crapper, and a plot that is too similar to the first movie), I can’t imagine anyone not having fun with this one.

4 out of 5 Gophers

8 comments:

  1. Great post! I'm a huge RDJr fan, but hadn't seen this yet. Now I definitely want to!

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  2. Thanks, Phoebe!

    I think he's great, too. He was born for this role, I think.

    Hope you get to go see it soon, and thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. Good luck in staying organized.

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  4. I'm going to give it a shot, Kay. I really respect how often you post on your own blog, and how you always make it worth reading. It's a lot harder to do than I would have guessed.

    I don't want to fall into the trap of posting without anything to say, if you know what I mean, but I also want to post more frequently.

    More importantly, I don't want to spend more time messing with my blog than I do writing on my projects. It's all about balance, and I think being more organized will help.

    Thanks for your thoughts, as always.

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  5. *Sigh* add me to your Iron Man 2 love / fan list. Love the title's for the usually boring days of the week.

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  6. I'm noticing a trend here. Claire had themed blogs, I started themed blogs, and now you have themed blogs. Coincidence? Hmmmm.

    I like the gopher rating system, real cute. Up until this point I have not seen either movie, but your review makes me want to immediatly see them both now.

    Downy JR like my girl Drew Barrymore are the rare Hollywood phoenix. How many people completely fall from grace with outlandish sexual and drug addicting behavior to come back into such power houses? They are the only two that immediatly come to mind for me.

    Looking forward to more of your fantastic posts!

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  7. Yay! I think I started a trend! I'm soooo cool! lol!

    Haven't seen Iron Man 2 yet, but I loved the first one. I think it's insporational as a writer that you can take an old idea, which wasnt' the most popular and re-package it into a hit!

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  8. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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