Ironman 2

  • Title:  Ironman 2
  • Director: Jon Favreau
  • Date:  2010
  • Studio:  Paramount, Marvel
  • Genre:  Action, Fantasy
  • Cast:  Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“You want my property, you can’t have it.  But I did you a big favor, I’ve successfully privatized world peace.”  — Tony Stark

“You are running out of both time and options.  Unfortunately, the device that’s keeping you alive is also killing you.”  — Jarvis

“You want to do this whole lone gunslinger act, and it’s unnecessary.  You don’t have to do this alone.” — Rhodey
“You know, I wish I could believe that, I really do.  But you gotta trust me.  Contrary to popular belief, I know exactly what I’m doing.”  — Tony

The film does open with a re-cap of the audio from Tony’s press conference at the end of the first Ironman film — played out against a man in Russia assembling his own arc reactor and Ironman-like suit. We will later discover this is Whiplash.

Tony, as Ironman, literally drops in to a rock concert-like opening for Stark Expo, complete with screaming fans and Rocketts.  He’s back to the arrogent, egomaniac — wild, and irresponsible, challenging anyone and everyone who is in his way, including a Senate sub-committee.

Normally, in a sequel to a heroic adventure, I would expect that the hero, having learned his true path in the first film (or book) would spend the second film facing down a bigger, badder, meaner challenge.  It’s nice if there’s more character interaction and development; or if  the world opens up, so to speak, widening the area where the hero plays.  However, in Ironman 2, Tony seems to have slipped backwards — once again becoming the irresponsible playboy, without a thought for how his actions affect others.

It’s soon revealed that Tony is dying.  The Palladium core of the arc reactor in his chest that keeps him alive, is also slowly poisoning him.  Tony begins to give away his things, such as donating his modern art collection to the Boy Scouts of America.  He also makes Pepper the CEO and chairman of his company. Their conversation when he does so, is at breakneck speed and great fun to watch.

Tony then goes to the Grand Prix race in Monaco.  Pepper, Happy, and a new Stark Industries employee named Natalie Rushman (later revealed to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, named Natasha) accompany Tony to Monaco. There he’s challenged by Justin Hammer, CEO of Hammer Industries – a weapons manufacturing company and former business rival of Stark’s.  Hammer wants to build his own Ironman suits as well, to sell to the US Armed Forces.

Tony slips away from the meeting, and tests his blood toxicity (with a device that looks very much like the type of portable blood sugar monitor used by diabetics).  Next you see him, he’s preparing to drive the race car he was only supposed to be sponsoring for the Grand Prix.  Pepper is livid and has Natalie find Happy so they can try to stop Tony from getting himself  killed.   During the race, Whiplash arrives and causes havoc — attacking cars and then deliberately crashing Tony’s race car.  Tony manages to free himself, and with a little intervention from Happy and Pepper is briefly rescued.  Pepper throws him a red suitcase, and Tony steps into the Ironman suit and challenges Whiplash.  He wins and the villian is carted off by the police.

On the flight back to the US, Pepper does ask Tony what he’s not telling her.  He talks about cancelling his birthday party and going with her to Venice.  Again, their dialogue together is cute, but Tony isn’t really telling her what’s going on.

Whiplash escapes prison, and is convinced to work for Justin Hammer.  He, does, however, have his own agenda.

Meanwhile, the night of  his birthday party, Rhodey finds Tony in his workroom, alone, and in bad shape. Tony gives a wild birthday party, and when Pepper tries to stop him — he goes even more wild, destroying things.  Rhodey shows up in one of Tony’s old Ironman suits and the two go at it.  In the end, Rhodey escapes with the suit and takes it to the Air Force.

The next day, Fury, of S.H.I.E.L.D., arrives and gives Tony lithium dioxide to counter the effects of  the Palladium poisoning.  He also introduces a more important part of the plot; that Howard Stark said the arc reactor was only a stepping stone to something greater, and Tony was the key.  Tony’s confused by this, but takes his father’s trunk and returns to the Orphanage (his home) where he discovers Agent Phil Coulson will be his body guard and babysitter.

Going through he father’s things, he discovers an old 16mm film of his father’s speech for the opening of Stark Expo.  At the end of his practicing the speech, Howard Stark addresses Tony directly.

Tony goes to see Pepper at Stark Industries and again is incapable of telling her how he feels (partially because she cuts him off) or that he’s dying.  But when he sees the Stark Expo model leaning against a wall, he realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye.  He brings it back to his workshop, and has Jarvis render it into a 3-D working model.  Working with the model, he realizes it’s an atom for a new element. Tony builds a Large Hadron Collider in his workshop and creates the new element.

As before, Tony is at his best, when he is alone and working on a problem or to build something.  The man is most definitely an engineer.  And I still love Jarvis and the 3-D holographic displays as Tony figures stuff out and manipulates parts of the rendered drawing with his hands.  (I use AutoCAD at work — I wish it was that easy!)  The final shot of Tony surrounded by dots of blue light, representing his new element is absolutely gorgeous!  I loved it!  Tony puts the new element in his arc reactor core which will help his “dying” problem.  In other words, he’s no longer being poisoned slowly.

Justin Hammer turns out to be a bully — taking Whiplash’s pet bird when he isn’t delivering fast enough on making suits that imitate Tony’s Ironman.  Rhodey delivers his suit to the Air Force who deliver it to Hammer.

At Stark Expo, Hammer introduces his battle drones, and his VTRB (Variable Threat Response Battlesuit).  But Wisplash takes control of the suits remotely and chaos reigns.  Even Rhodey in his own VTRB suit can’t control it.  Tony has Jarvis hack into Rhodey’s suit, granting him control at least.  Pepper contacts the police to try to bring some control to the chaos.  Eventually, Tony and Rhodey defeat Whiplash and his drones, but Whiplash has one final act to play — all the drones contain bombs.  Tony rushes off and rescues Pepper.  She quits as  CEO of Stark Industries.

Ironman 2 has some fun moments, and I liked the advancement of  Tony and Pepper’s relationship.  I also found the one step forward two steps back approach to Tony and Pepper’s relationship to be frustrating almost to the point of annoyance.  Tony and Pepper are cute together.  She can improve him, but they also seem to be always moving in opposite directions, unable to stand still long enough to really meet and know what the other is saying.  But I also found it odd that dying was used by Tony as an excuse to go back to his irresponsible playboy ways.  And, in a sense there was too many “big action scenes” and not enough character development (even for the villian — the only place his name was used was the back of the DVD box).  A sequel should further develop the main character’s arc, but in this film it seems to go backwards instead.   However, Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow again knock it out of the park, doing their best with what they are given.  And I like Tony when he’s alone and acting as an engineer.  But overall, a little disappointing.

Recommendation:  See it.  May as well to keep up with the various Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers.
Rating:  3.8 out of  5 Stars
Next Film:  Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of  Shadows

Galaxy Quest

  • Title:  Galaxy Quest
  • Director:  Dean Parisot
  • Date:  1999
  • Studio:  Dreamworks Pictures
  • Genre:  SF, Comedy
  • Cast:  Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Robin Sachs
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“For the past one hundred years our society had fallen into disarray, our goals, our values had become scattered, but since the transmission we have modeled every aspect of our society from your example and it has saved us.  Your courage, and teamwork, and friendship through adversity.  In fact, all you see around you has been taken from the lessons garnered from the historical documents.”  — Mathezar

“Jason, we’re actors, not astronauts.” –Gwen

“Did you guys ever watch the show?” –Guy

“Ducts? Why is it always ducts?” –Gwen

Galaxy Quest is a great movie — it’s funny, it has an original plot, and the special effects and make-up still stand up twelve years later.  Galaxy Quest is the story of a group of actors from a science fiction television series who suddenly find themselves on a real spaceship created by a group of aliens after watching their tv series, or “historical documents”.  The film begins at a convention for the “Galaxy Quest” TV show which is filled with the cliches about costume-wearing fans.  The actors don’t really like each other but are there because they are desperate for work.  Jason Naismith (Allen) even over-hears a group of guys in the men’s room poking fun at him.  He goes home, gets drunk, and the next morning goes to what he thinks is a gig with the Thurmians.

Later he discovers he really was on an alien ship – and he and his crew end up on the ship too.  Before long they are involved in a war between the Thurmians and Sarris a bug-like alien who has been destroying their civilization because he can.  Jason attacks Sarris’s ship but it’s a disaster, and the Protector is damaged.  They go to an alien planet to get a replacement Beryllium sphere (engine part), and Jason fights a pig monster and a rock monster.  But soon Sarris has the upper hand again, capturing Mathezar, the Thurmian leader, and trying to kill everyone on the ship.  Jason explains about being actors, and Galaxy Quest being a tv show – then creates a distraction while the guards are taking them away.  Everyone splits up with different tasks to do to rescue the dying Thurmians and get Sarris’s crew off  the ship.

Finally, Jason has his third space battle with Sarris, and succeeds.  But is it too easy?

After something I’m not going to spoil, because I loved it so — the Protector returns to Earth, and our “actors” make a triumphant appearance at the Galaxy Quest convention.  Jason rescues the crowd from another of Sarris’ men – which the crowd assumes is a great special effect.

Jason also works with three of  the Galaxy Quest fans via a transmitter – when he needs help sneaking around the ship.

Galaxy Quest, in a way, is a complex movie.  Each of the actors, playing actors, had three roles to play – their characters in the 1982 TV show, themselves as typecast actors in the 1990s making ends meet by convention appearances and opening electronics stores, and the characters the Thurmians think they are – as all of the “actors” try to work things out in the science fiction plot of being on a space ship and fighting a war.  It’s a bit to wrap your head around — but the film works well because everything in it feels real and true to the story.  It’s not a nod-nod wink-wink breaking the fourth wall type of comedy at all – the story itself  is a good science fiction story with a lot of action and a lot of comedy.  There are also serious parts – such as the torturing of Mathezar, the death of Qualleg, and Jason’s growing realization that the entire mess is his fault – that are handled well.

The other question in this film is:  “Who are the real fans?”  And actually, the fans in the film aren’t the convention guests — but the Thurmians.  These are a people who, first, are very innocent, child-like, and naive.  Yet, at the same time, they had the vision and scientific skills to look at something on a TV show and actually build it and make it work.  They also more or less abandoned their own culture to adapt that they saw in the “historical documents” – sort of  anthropologists gone native to the extreme.

However, it is interesting that the fans at the convention are shown as stereotypical fans, buying tons of merchandise, wearing costumes, asking technical questions of the actors, or if “Commander Taggart and Lt. Madison had a thing.”  But when the movie returns to the convention at the end — the fans in the audience are for the most part wearing T-shirts and jeans, in other words, dressed “normally”, and waiting for Jason and his crew to appear and speak.  In the end, the film isn’t poking fun of  science fiction and media fans – it’s celebrating them.

Recommendation:  See it and own it!
Rating:  5 Stars
Next Film:  Gaslight (1944)