Monday, May 10, 2010

Iron Man 2 Rocked My Ass Off

It is always a welcome surprise when a director who got started on quirky romantic comedies (like Swingers, Made and Elf) is able to take an enormous cast of Hollywood A talent, stupid money and make a summer blockbuster action flick based on a comic book -- and a sequel at that -- and pump it full of pathos, humor and action without letting it go off the rails.

Once again, Jon Favreau, you are the man.

I won't go into any spoilers, but I must mention that the cast is amazing, from Robert Downey Jr.'s "second act" portrayal of playboy Tony Stark to Mickey Rourke's sinister Russian bad-ass, Whiplash.  From Sam Rockwell's sleazy military industrialist, Justin Hammer, to Don Cheadle's idealistic Colonel Rhodes, to Samuel L. Jackson's acerbic Nick Fury, to Scarlett Johansson's sleek and bringin' it Black Widow.

Let the gals have their sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolf bad boys.  When Scarlett dons her Black Widow costume and goes all Emma-Peel-meets-Jason-Statham on the bad guys, it's enough to make any boy lose his geek shit.

As I've said, no complaints about the acting and script, and the story actually works well, both on its own and as part of a much greater whole.  A whole which includes the upcoming Captain America, Thor and Avengers franchises.  In fact, stay for the post-credits teaser.  You can thank me later.  It does get big and loud and intense, but it stays true to vision and never strays off into wackiness. 

I guess it just tickles me when a guy who has a gift for character and story gets put at the helm of a big-budget comic book adaptation and pulls it off.  It tickles me even more that he does it with the sequel.  Bryan Singer has come close.  Sam Raimi has come close.  And as hampered by 1970s photochemical effects as he was, Richard Doner came close.  But nobody has pulled off a comic book movie franchise with the level of character chemistry and good storytelling in the midst of spectacle quite as well as Favreau. That, to me, is impressive, especially in an age where Hollywood is not as concerned with character chemistry and story as it is with the explosions and the toy marketing and let's have Superman fight a giant spider in the third act.

Nice going, Jon.

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