Thursday, March 15, 2012

More on Movies

I was sick yesterday and spent the day in bed. Some kind of food poisoning. I feel better today. Anyway, having nothing much else to do, I tried to fix the plot of Iron Man 2. A mental exercise. I didn't actually get out pen and paper or computer.

I couldn't do it. The emotional center of the movie isn't Tony Stark. It's his business rival Justin Hammer and the Russian physicist and ex-con Ivan Venko. Venko is as brilliant as Tony, but life has been hard on him. He blames the Stark family and wants to kill Tony. Hammer thinks he can use Venko to create new weapons for his company. You look at Hammer, radiating hubris, and Venko, radiating menace, and you think, "This isn't going to work."

So the movie is about the creation of weapons meant to destroy Tony Stark. In the end Venko is killed and one imagines that Hammer's stock goes through the basement after the wonderful trade show scene in which Hammer's robots turn into weapons of mass destruction right there on the stage. It's a terrific scene. Venko, tapping away at a laptop with his tattooed hands, takes control of the robots by remote control and turns them on the trade show audience. And Tony as Iron Man saves the day.

The problem with the movie is the motivation and the tinkering are all with Venko and Hammer. So Tony is given a motivation and a reason to tinker. The arc reactor (a magic shining disk in his chest) that keeps him alive is failing. He needs to find a new material to power it -- or do something with it. Anyway, a mid-1970s movie of his deceased father turns out to be a coded message describing a new element, which Tony is able to synthesize, using a home-made accelerator built in his basement. It works in the arc reactor. Tony will live.

I don't buy any of this. My belief unsuspends. I also don't like the sentimentality of Tony being saved by his father from the grave. This part of the plot is shoddy. Less shoddy, but also problematic, is Tony making his assistant Pepper Potts the CEO of his company. He does this because he's dying. But on top of all his problems Pepper is serious about her new job, and Tony finds himself becoming irrelevant to the company and her. Well maybe. It's fun, but it doesn't tie in with the movie's central issue which is weapons and the use of weapons.


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