It looks like the Iron Man franchise won’t be following the same footsteps as the Spider-Man or Christopher Nolan Batman franchises with powerful sequels.
One of the most anticipated films of the summer and probably the most anticipated sequels of the year is Iron Man 2, Jon Favreau’s follow-up to the critically and commercially successful 2008 film. The film screened last night for a select number of critics in a packed cinema in Westerfield, England. As the theatre let out, the critics and bloggers were quick to post their reviews and word on the street is Iron Man 2 is pretty much a stinker.
The only real positive word comes from Harry Knowles from Ain’t it Cool News (aka Mr. Let Me See a Film Early and I Promise to Rave About It). His review is choppy and of the “oh and this one part was totally awesome” variety. He calls the film “comic movie crack” and raves:
I FUCKING LOVE THE ACTION of the film. I love that this is full on Marvel Science Fiction. The entire last act just fucking rocks balls! I was concerned as I watched the Monaco sequence, that this would not be topped for the rest of the film. It is awesome. If you’ve been watching the TV Spots – you see a bit of the actual Whiplash vs IRON MAN in Monaco sequence – but frankly, once IRON MAN shows up… your ass was already blown away by Happy Hogan versus Whiplash. No Shit! I’m telling you – AWESOMERY!
Neil Smith of Total Film gives the film a mostly positive 3 out of 4 stars. He disagrees with the masses who seem to believe the beginning is slow by stating that the first act is the best part:
A hugely entertaining first act is let down by a lacklustre second in a sequel often more concerned with setting up future Marvel efforts than delivering on its predecessorâ€™s promise.
Also turning in a mediocre review is Brian Lowry of Variety who calls the film less fun that its predecessor, but says “it’ll do.” I’m interpreting this to mean it is decent for a summer blockbuster, but won’t last the test of time or be a contender for any non-technical awards. According to Lowry, Act II is the weakest:
There are enough fun moments in Jon Favreau’s playful direction (from Justin Theroux’s workmanlike script) and Downey’s performance — a tycoon who’s equal parts Warren Buffett and Kid Rock — to satisfy a weekend audience, but one needs a forgiving nature to get past the flabby midsection. The special effects, meanwhile, are more plentiful and polished once they fully kick into high gear, though there are still shots where that gleaming suit looks a bit more animated than it should.
The fact that so much news about The Avengers has been announced lately may have negatively affected the Iron Man 2 audience. Gary Phillips from HeyUGuys came out with one of the first reviews and talks about the film’s inability to work as a stand-alone piece:
Itâ€™s a strangely paced film and suffers at times from incredibly long exposition and poorly contrived story lines that seem to be added to no doubt develop the Avengers storyline rather than the Iron Man 2 story that I wanted to see. Youâ€™ll see what I mean after about 4-5 scenes throughout littered with Shield/Avengers plot developments that all seemed horribly squeezed in to setup characters forÂ a film that will happen in 2-3 years time.
One of the most scathing reviews comes from the UK Mirror. David Edwards calls the sequel “mind-numbingly dull, chaotic, and unwatchable” – three adjectives that were very appropriate for Transformers 2. In his 1 out of 5 star review, Edwards speculates at what made the film so bad:
I donâ€™t know what went on behind the scenes while the film was being made but rumours of reshoots and recuts have been swirling around the internet. Was this the film director Jon Favreau wanted to make? I doubt it. After Elf, the underrated Zathura and the first instalment, heâ€™s proved himself a capable pair of hands. Perhaps the blame lies higher up the studio food chain.
Probably the most negative review, however, comes from usually reliable source Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter:
Well, that didn’t take long. Everything fun and terrific about “Iron Man,” a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel.
In its place, “Iron Man 2” has substituted noise, confusion, multiple villains, irrelevant stunts and misguided story lines. A film series that started out with critical and commercial success will have to settle for only the latter with this sequel; Robert Downey Jr.’s return as Tony Stark/Iron Man will assure that.
Based on the sources of the positive reviews and the negative reviews at this point I’m inclined to suspect the film is bad. However, as we all know initial reviews do not necessarily indicate a film’s quality and they definitely do not affect the box office.
Do these reviews influence your desire to see Iron Man 2?