Monday, May 24, 2010

Iron Man 2, Physics 0

I saw Iron Man 2 last night. It was what you expect from a sequel, not quite as good as the original, but not awful. It was a little too long, crammed to overflowing with few too many characters and sub plots, the charming hero of the first film not quite as charming the second time around. But it was a Big Stuff Blowing Up movie, and if that's what you wanted to see, that's what you got.

It was the textbook example of what the young people today call "aight", pronounced like "all right" when you don't have enough energy to pronounce the l or the r.

But my big problem with the movie, nerd that I am, is physics. But trust me, it isn't really nerdy physics that was my problem.

We can ignore the physics of unlimited energy in Iron Man and unlimited ammo in War Machine, the gray Army version of the flying suit. My problem in the movie deals with gravity, stuff that goes up but, for reasons passing understanding, declines the coming down part.

Tony Stark gets loaded and shows up to a party dressed as Iron Man. At least this is in character, as Tony was a fall down drunk in the comic books as well. The rest of the party guests look like they have been shipped in from the best strip clubs in town, and he starts impressing the girls by throwing a champagne bottle in the air and destroying it with his hand mounted repulsor ray. Oooh, that's fun! Girls starting throwing the bottles in the air above the crowd and he shoots those bottles out of the air as well.

Excuse me, where does the broken glass go? I know I'm not supposed to think about as petty a problem as gravity when watching a Big Stuff Blowing Up movie, but the scene ends with one girl (and they aren't women, they're girls, as in the phrase Girls Gone Wild) carrying a huge watermelon she can barely lift, let alone throw two feet above her head, and Iron Man obliges by blowing it to smithereens, covering the assorted bimbos in the splash zone with icky, sticky fun!

The rules in a movie don't have to be the same way the rules in real life, but they do have to be internally consistent. If blowing up a watermelon means people getting hit with watermelon debris, blowing up champagne bottles in the exact same scene should also effect the people in the blast zone. And not in a good way.

Last year, a pleasant time watching the frothy Mamma Mia! was ruined by incessant usage of math and logic. This year, I used physics to break the magical spell of willing suspension of disbelief during Iron Man 2. In my defense, it wasn't the tough part of physics, it was the part that any toddler who knocks something breakable off of a table can understand.

Would that the director and screenwriters had made an effort to reach this level of understanding. Maybe the message was supposed to be "nothing ever happens to innocent bystanders", but it felt like "we the filmmakers don't give a rat's rectum what happens to innocent bystanders, because in this movie they don't count".


Padre Mickey said...

I never saw the first Iron Man, so I figure I'd just be lost if I see Iron Man 2.

namastenancy said...

"Rat's rectum"....clever, very clever. I haven't seen either movie but the first is in my Netflix list. I'll have to remember this post when I go to watch it but the point that "nothing happens to innocent bystanders" is a common flaw in most action movies (IMHO).

Matty Boy said...

Rat's rectum is not original, but thanks, anyway. Some sci fi/action shows do acknowledge collateral damage, notably the new Battlestar Galactica, and some don't. I regularly watch the TV cartoon show Justic League Unlimited, and there was so much destruction of property by villains and aliens, my friend Art and I used to joke that on that planet, 9/11 was a GOOD day.