IRON MAN 2
**** (out of 5)
May 7, 2010
Robert Downey Jr. as TONY STARK
Don Cheadle as JAMES RHODES
Scarlett Johansson as NATALIE RUSHMAN
Gwyneth Paltrow as PEPPER POOTS
Sam Rockwell as JUSTIN HAMMER
Mickey Rourke as IVAN VANKO
Samuel L. Jackson as NICK FURY
Directed by: Jon Favreau
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Sequels can be a tricky business. Superhero sequels can be even trickier. I never quite understood why this was the case because the whole superhero genre is basically a pulp magazine serial with pictures and relatively easy-to-follow storylines. Yet while Hollywood has – for the most part – gotten a handle on the superhero movie, it still has trouble with the sequels.
It is for this reason that I was a little nervous about “Iron Man 2.” As one of the most anticipated sequels since “The Dark Knight,” this movie had the potential to be as good as the original or to crash and burn. While it’s gotten some mixed review from the fanboy circuit, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the final product.
“Iron Man 2” takes up directly after “Iron Man,” with billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) defending his right to be Iron Man and keep control of the powerful suit technology. As he struggles with some personal issues – from blood poisoning from his mini arc reactor to how to maintain a viable company – an old enemy surfaces in Russia. Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) seeks to avenge his father, who turns out to be the disgraced partner of Tony Stark’s father.
Soon, Stark is facing Vanko, who has developed his own Iron Man style of weaponry. He’s also dealing with a rogue weapons manufacturer who wants to swoop in and take the Stark technology. In the middle of all this, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is eagerly trying to recruit Stark for his own band of superheroes.
There’s quite a bit going on in the plot of this movie, but it’s not overpowering. There are some moments in the middle of the film that stumble and become a bit awkward, but this is all done in the name of setting up future Marvel action films, like “The Avengers,” “Captain America” and “Thor.” So we are left with the clunkiness of an origin story in the second film.
Still, this was all forgiveable for me. After all, I didn’t think “Iron Man” was the beginning and the end of superhero or action films, and I never read the Iron Man comic books. The first movie had its flaws but was still a hell of a lot of fun and a great way to kick of 2008’s summer movie season. Likewise, “Iron Man 2” is equally – if not more – fun and is a kick-ass start of this year’s summer.
There’s a little too much banter between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), but that was the case in the first film. And, like most movies that come down the pike nowadays, there’s a scene in the middle where everything seems to unravel. Let’s consider this the “jazz club scene” from “Spider-Man 3” and just move on.
In the end, I still enjoyed the hell out of “Iron Man 2” because of its crisp look and high-octane action sequences. In fact, the action of this movie seemed better paced and spread out nicely through the film, which was not necessarily the case from the first movie.
While the critical consensus seems to be that “Iron Man 2” was fun but not as good as the first film, I have to disagree. In the end, I think I liked “Iron Man 2” better because it delivered a better paced and far more exciting film from a popcorn action standpoint. It’s not as deep and expertly constructed as “The Dark Knight” or even “Spider-Man 2” for that matter, when it comes to superhero sequels. But then again, few films – superhero stories or not – can reach this level.
I enjoyed “Iron Man 2” for the popcorn spectacle is was, and I had at least as much fun as it appeared Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau had making it.