Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010) Film Reviews

images-2

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) is the egomaniac head of Stark Industries, a multinational corporation that deals with a variety of technology, including arms dealing. In Afghanistan, after demonstrating the power of a new weapon to potential buyers, Stark is captured by a terrorist group who want him to build the weapon for him in a cave. In the capture, he is wounded by shrapnel which has left large amounts of metal in his body, and a fellow captive has created a powerful magnet to keep the scraps from entering his heart and killing him. Instead of building the weapon, he improves the magnet so it is self-powered and builds a suit of iron – the first stage of Iron Man.

Escaping and returning to the US, Stark removes arms sales from his company, causing share prices to drop. His passion becomes using his technology for good, but he has powerful enemies who are not happy with the path he is taking.

Iron Man is a great action film, with lots of explosions and big fights combined with humour and the delightful charisma of Stark. Of course, as all good action films should, it leads up to a massive battle between Stark and his nemesis.

Coming back in Iron Man 2, Stark has outed himself to the world as a superhero, and this has brought the wrath of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) the son of a Russian scientist who worked with Tony Stark’s father in the fifties and sixties. Vanko wants revenge and uses the same technology that Stark possesses to create great big huge electrical whips – big enough to cut a car in half during the Monaco Gran Prix. The US government wants to own the technology that Stark uses for his Iron Man suit to create an army, but Stark refuses to sell, even after a formal governmental enquiry. Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is an arms dealer who wants to develop Iron Man suits, and manages to get Vanko on board. Unsurprisingly, Vanko does not share the vision of Hammer, and a massive battle ensues, with Stark paired up with his army contact  Lt. Col. Rhodes (Don Cheedle) to fight the final battle. This second film takes the fight sequences to a ridiculous height, and I loved every moment of it. I believe there is a third Iron Man in the making, and I can’t wait. Even with Gwyneth Paltrow totally miscast as Pepper Potts (and I’m a Paltrow fan, I just didn’t buy her in this role) it was a wonderful and ridiculous piece of cinema.

Hang about until the end of the credits to see the teaser for another Marvel flick.

The Soloist (2009) – Film Review

T

Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jnr) a columnist for the Los Angeles Times comes across a schizophrenic homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) who plays beautiful violin music. Writing about him touches the hearts of his readers, and Lopez wants to find ways to help Nathaniel to improve his life, regardless of whether Nathaniel wants or needs this assistance.

It’s based on a true story which can sometimes make for fairly twee films, but this one worked for me. Possibly it is in part my delight at watching Robert Downie Jnr, who is definitely one of my favourite actors, but it is also a well structured film which shows great empathy for both Ayers and Lopez. I found the scenes depicting Ayers during some of the bad times of his schizophrenia were a bit heavy-handed, but this did set up his emotional state for later in the film.

It seems that every film I’ve watched recently is long, and like many of them, I think it could have been cut down a bit. It takes a really, really special film to hold my attention for two hours, and whilst I enjoyed this film, it ain’t two-hours-long-special.