/Film UK - Iron Man 2 Mini-Review, Avatar's Stephen Lang, James Bond And Your Chance To See Prince Of Persia This Week

Coming to you weekly from my vantage point in good old Blighty, it's Slashfilm UK. Anglos and Anglophiles rejoice. This week's is a special installment including 90 minutes of audio to stream or download.

During last weekend's rollicking Fan Fest event at the London Film Museum, I was honoured to host three on-stage Q&As. The first was with Stephen Lang, Avatar's Colonel Quaritch; the second was with Richard Kiel, aka James Bond villain Jaws, and Blanche Revelac, who played Jaws' love interest, Dolly; and the last was with Bond girls Eunice Gayson and Madeline Smith.

Here are audio recordings of those sessions, each one picking up just after I was introduced to the stage. You can either right-click on the following links to download them, or just play them in your browser.

Stephen Lang – discussing Avatar, his acting career and, just a little, Conan

Richard Kiel and Blance Revelac – discussing their Bond roles. Kiel reveals his casting in Disney's Tangled

Eunice Gayson and Madeline Smith – discussing their careers


Would you fancy seeing Disney's Prince of Persia two weeks ahead of release? I've got two pairs of tickets to a special preview in London's West End in the evening of Friday May 7th. To stake your claim on a pair, e-mail me and tell me: Other than Prince of Persia, which other upcoming film will feature Toby Kebbell and Alfred Molina?

E-mail me with your answer, name and a telephone number by 9pm GMT on Wednesday 5th May.vankoIron Man 2 is not only out in much of the world, it's proving to be a smash hit already, netting $100 million in a weeked. We in the UK have had the film since Thursday April 29 and the cinemas have been packing them in.

The long and the short of my review would be this: I think Iron Man 2 is a better film than the first. I was disappointed last time around that the final act of the film was bereft of the earlier parts' interesting, if soft, attempts to include some political and ethical context. I was hoping the film was going to build to making a coherent statement, while it instead degenerated into a predictable rota of robot-hitting-robot. This is not to mention the absurdity of thinking some CG puppets could possibly be more interesting combatants than  Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges.

This time around, the asides and undercurrents of commentary or (to be generous, satire) continue throughout the whole structure of the piece and the film is much better for it. There's also far more invention and wit in general. I don't think it was a perfectly slick film however, and the staging, even of the action sequences, is typically more solid than spectacular but there's flashes of enticing, encouraging stuff at pretty regular intervals – my favourite being Tony and Pepper's argument playing out on video screens, the camera whipping back and forth. It's kind of daft, but it's definitely amusing and likeable stuff.

Mickey Rourke slips into his role hand-in-glove, and I can only imagine his casting had some significant influence on the way that Ivan Ivanko is portrayed and the scenes he has been given. It's a key role, for sure, but many of his proactive moments seem relegated to taking place off screen, and he ends up rather more of a plot facilitator than would have been ideal. On the other hand another glove: Sam Rockwell is just as fittingly cast in the role of alter-Stark Justin Hammer, and thankfully better served by the script.

One common criticism of Iron Man 2 has been that the film gets bogged down while trying to set up tie-in movies and spin-offs. I don't think this is fair at all. While there's definitely some material here that won't pay off until we get an Avengers film (if it all pays off at all), this material is all served up in parallel to Iron Man-salient turns of character and plot. There's no single scene you could lift out as being "all Avengers".

I did end up feeling quite frustrated with Tony Stark, and as a result with the film. It's not that I wanted to film to judge and damn him, I did at least expect it to test him a little more. While the character is literally put on trial, and under numerous other action and character stresses, I don't think his morality is probed sufficiently that the film can really stand alone comfortably. There's something quite unsettling for me about a film that implies a satisfaction with not only military force, but privatised, even maybe commercialised military force.

I think it's interesting to note that when I saw the film with a fairly busy house, not a single other person stayed throughout the credits to see the "secret button scene". Another reminder how much of a remote island online geekery actually can be, I think.

Next week: back to business as usual for /Film UK.