HUB Titles: Iron Man 2
The fine folks over at the Student Programming Association have continued to offer non-alcoholic activities in the HUB as part of SPA LateNight for a while now. A staple of LateNight is the free movies (the best kind of movies) playing in the HUB Auditorium Thursday through Sunday nights. For those who may be on the fence about spending their zero dollars on cinema in the HUB, this new weekly segment is perfect. HUB Titles will tell you what to expect from the film and give you a better sense of who to invite along. Appropriately enough, we’ll start things off with an explosion with Iron Man 2.
The Premise: Iron Man 2 brings us back into the world of everyone’s favorite super-powered drunk, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Tony’s drinking habit (as seen in the comics) has escalated since the original film and has conveniently destroyed the moral of “don’t be a total ass to everybody” that he learned in the first movie. This comes at a most inopportune time as Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has a bone to pick with Iron Man and decides now is as good a time as any to be a super villain.
Meanwhile, Tony’s commitment to being a douche causes friction between him and his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Tony’s best friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) also serves as a form of dramatic tension. Rhodes is torn between being Tony’s bro and a member of the military who wants the Iron Man suit. Eventually, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (SAMUEL! L.! JACKSON!) shows up to remind Tony of his being an ass, but mostly to remind us that Marvel Studios is making an Avengers movie. Expensive special effects and rock music are mixed in between everything described above.
The Performance: Robert Downey Jr. basically plays Robert Downey Jr. in this film, but he’s so good at it that it definitely isn’t a minus. His now trademark humor and charm are the only things preventing us from hating Tony Stark as much as the characters in the movie do. Gwyneth Paltrow masters her role of being Tony’s buzzkill and laughs ensue almost every time the two are on screen together.
The casting of Don Cheadle was a head-scratcher, but he seems to have a lot of fun with this role. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell (who plays Tony’s business rival, Justin Hammer) fill the roles of the villains well enough but they are outnumbered by the good guys both in entertainment and charisma. Scarlett Johansson (playing Natasha Romanoff) and SAMUEL! L.! JACKSON! are basically warming up for the previously mentioned Avengers film, but Johansson’s fight scenes and JACKSON!’s deadpan routines are terrific. Finally, keep an eye out for some cool (and slightly nerdy) cameos.
Other thoughts: The music is dynamite and AC/DC heavy. It accentuates the manly “blowin’ stuff up” attitude the film has. All of the actors have funny moments and the humor saves some scenes that are almost needlessly more dramatic than an Iron Man film really should be. Perhaps the biggest flaw of Iron Man 2 is that Iron Man’s biggest enemy is not a villain but himself. To put it more bluntly (while trying to capture some of the masculinity I lost typing the last sentence), Tony Stark’s fights with the villains become background to the philosophical conflicts he has from being Iron Man. More bluntly: Less moping, more action, please.
Final Rating: The Reverse Mohawk. It’s funny but isn’t quite as memorable as the original. Really, though, the only thing that matters is that it’s entertaining and reeks of manly fun.