Sorry this took so damned long to post but I had to wait until my return to Houston to get it uploaded on account of the wi-fi in my hotel out in Vegas being weaker than the GLA’s powerset. Seriously, I couldn’t even check my damned e-mail if I wanted. But anyhow, here’s the review and the story of my trek to the premiere at Planet Hollywood.
Everyone got into the theater at around 6:30 while the film was slated to start at 7:30, a good chunk of the audience was simply there because they had been given tickets when they signed up for a rewards card at the hotel when they showed up. They didn’t know of the film’s existence prior to the line forming. I shit thee not. Anyhow, the movie starts two hours late, because Stallone and company are still doing the press stuff outside and they need to make their little speech before the film starts so everyone in the theater had to wait, which was fine and I understood it, because I know how these things work. The uninformed masses however, who didn’t realize that this was a premiere and that the whole goddamned cast was outside the theater, were starting to get restless and annoying. I’m surprised a riot didn’t break out.
At around 8:30 the producer of the film, Avi Lerner comes out and starts ramblibg off names of people he’d like to thank in the most monotone voice possible and the crowd starts to heckle him a little bit. They soon settle down when Stallone comes out and introduces his cast. Sly, Statham, Lundgren, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Eric Roberts, Charisma Carpenter, and Gisele Itie all stand up on stage and the place goes nuts. Sly jokes about Lundgren being a “shorty” and wearing lifts to appear taller than he really is, a nice jab considering Lundgren is a big mofo and Sly is practically a hobbit. He also jokes about Austin being a true badass with the proof being the medical work left in Sly’s neck after their fight scene injured his back. They thanked the audience and the lights went down for the movie to roll.
The movie starts and for the entire length of the running time I am hooked. This movie is a return to form for action films. If there’s a hand-to-hand fight, you see everything. No quick cuts that give the illusion of action. It’s like the good old days. The shootouts are loud and everything explodes. I swear if someone shot a wooden applecart that sumbitch was a fireball two seconds later. It was like every great over-the-top action film of the eighties come back to life. The film really works as the ultimate male wish fulfillment. It’s all about big guns, knocking the bad guy on his ass and saving the girl. It’s like a western with machine guns.
I think the movie could have been just as good with another cast, but the film does get a boost due to who is starring in it. The viewer is practically forced to jump up and down in excitement at the thought of Jet Li fighting Dolph Lundgren or Randy Couture going one on one against Steve Austin. It’s like when kids play with their action figures of Batman and the Hulk and play out their fantasies of seeing two characters who never should collide come together and fight like madmen. This film is a sandbox and Stallone brought all the best toys.
After the movie ended I headed to the VIP afterparty, all the stars were there but I wasn’t VIP enough to meet them in person. A few of the other celebs who had come out for the premiere but weren’t part of their group mingled with the crowd. I got to meet “Tiny” Lister, who was not as huge as I had expected but was a really cool guy after I got over my initial intimidation enough to shake his hand. I soon left the afterparty because the DJ was playing Black Eyed Peas and I respect myself too much to stay in any situation where the Black Eyed Peas are considered a good idea for ambient music.
So that’s my story. It was a really cool trip and
I want to come out and say that as far as comics to film translations go, the franchise that seems to have taken the essense of the stories and chracters and adapted them best for the screen has to be the Iron Man series. Every character retains their core in ways that are lost with films like Batman, Superman, and the X-Men films. I think the most telling moment in Iron Man 2 is when Tony Stark is clutching a bottle of champagne, suited up in the armor and scratching the turntables at his birthday party. The film is very comfortable in portraying the character in moments that otherwise would seem awkward. The films embrace the atmosphere that a billionare in a weaponized suit creates. It’s a level of fantasy fulfillment and straightforward production that seems lost in other films. It doesn’t feel very tongue in cheek, it’s just presented at face value and the audience goes with it, because it seems natural.
Which really needs to be the case in a film like Iron Man. It’s like a ride, and you have to be willing to realize that. Iron Man 2 certainly has some setbacks that are evident in most sequels. I however do not see the problem that certain people do, claiming that the film has too many new characters. All the characters introduced in the film do wonders with the time they are given. Sam Rockwell probably does the most with the limited screen time he’s given, making Justin Hammer his own and providing an excellent foil for Tony Stark and the scenes where the two share the screen are absolutely phenomenal. The chemistry between the two actors is amazing. And I think that’s another crux of what makes the film work the way it does; the chemistry that all these actors bring to their roles is as top tier as you can get. Gwenyth Paltrow, who I normally despise, works well with anyone she’s put up against. The same goes for Downey, or Don Cheadle or even Mickey Rourke, who just seethes a sort of dirty despicability. What I like about this film is that it feels like a Marvel book come to life. We get Nick Fury and the Black Widow sharing scenes with Iron Man and War Machine, all these heroes converging on screen in a way we’ve never seen before. In films like The Dark Knight, we got Batman and multiple villains, creating a miniature scale version of this effect, but that was a microcosm while this feels grander in scope.
While some will argue that War Machine and Black Widow don’t get enough time to be fleshed out completely, and therefore giving the producers no reason to use them in the first place, I think the film does a sufficient job in presenting them in such a way that when the inevitable spin-off films happen, they can hit the ground running in ways they previously could not. The origin story is such a boring aspect to most heroes, and most of the time we’re so familiar with them that we get bored when they play out on the screen, or we get angry if they change something in such a way that it betrays the spirit of the source material. I believe that with Iron Man, Marvel is doing an amazing job of world building. They have more room to maneuver than they ever have previously and it’s sad that DC can’t pull off the same feat. I personally would love to see a post-credits scene in Green Lantern where Hal Jordan is tracking a fast moving bogey only to happen upon a red blur that slows down just enough for us to get a glimpse of The Flash. Or maybe he crashes an F-15 into an invisible jet. Who cares, but let us see a larger world.
Like I said, the film is not perfect, and It probably could have used another big action scene to offset the more character driven dialogue pieces. I don’t need action all the time but the first film felt more balanced in this regard. I will admit however that the final set piece in this film trumps the less than stellar Iron Monger fight in the original, even if it is somewhat derivitive of that particular setup.