The ‘Iron Man 2’ meltdown

2010-05-03 00:00

THE original Iron Man challenged the superficiality of our media-obsessed society. Tony Stark, the brilliant scientist, developed his power-suits like fashion designers produce outfits. Yes, the suit is a big thing for the fan-boys and the different versions feed our technological obsession with updates. This said, however, Stark manipulated the media, and within the subtext of the film the joke was always on our belief in the superficial.

Iron Man 2 opens with the natural progression of narcissism and surface play as Stark launches a year-long Expo-cum-theme park in New York. This is based on a design of his father whom Stark has little time for.

Amid the razzle-dazzle launch party of the Expo, interspersed with clips of Larry King and Christiane Amanpour, Stark is threatened by three key enemies. First, the state wants to get its hands on his suit. Feeling that the technology could easily be replicated by enemies or compromised by Stark’s in-your-face, rogue-boy personality, the military wants the suits to be handed over.

Stark’s good intentions, hidden by his playboy persona, are also challenged by a second major threat — the technology itself. The element that is embedded in his chest is causing him to die slowly and he desperately seeks an alternative solution.

The third major threat is the super-villain Whiplash, in the person of Mickey Rourke.

Dishevelled, tattooed and scarred, Mickey Rourke plays his fearsome-looking self, although the constant toothpick chewing makes you wonder just what the heck he had for lunch. The son of a former colleague of Stark’s father, he is hell-bent on revenge for his father’s exile and disgrace, blamed on the Stark family. The first face-off at a Monaco Grand Prix is beautifully realised in the same novel way that the original delighted us in the unexpected. Sadly for me, this was the highlight of the film.

The second act drags on interminably and I am sure that fan-boys will be disgruntled with the lack of action. We are drawn rather into a more sober Stark who has resigned himself to his looming death. This robs us of a key pleasure, that of seeing real-life bad boy Robert Downey Jnr chewing up the scenery. The final act attempts to resolve this by throwing everything at us. The various plot strands are woven together, but it seems rather too convenient in the end. Considering the bold, exciting, original version, this sequel is average at best.***

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