Movie Review: Iron Man 2

“I have successfully privatized world peace.”

“Sorry. It’s funny how annoying a little prick can be.”

Iron Man’s back and shiny as ever—but despite a few noteworthy additions, the shine’s starting to show a few chinks in his armor.

If you haven’t been living under a rock the past few years, you will undoubtedly remember the masterful bit of cinematic gold that was Iron Man. It was everything a comic book movie could aspire to be. Good actors, good script, and cool tech, with the whole superhero aspect and brilliantly executed action half of the equation counterbalanced with the delightful comic stylings of Robert Downey Jr.

The sequel takes us back once more to the life of billionaire Tony Stark (Downey), recently out of the closet in regards to the whole Iron Man affair, but still seeming to have fought off the urge to grow up. Or really to change at all, for that matter. Now, however, he has the U.S. government on his ass, hungry for his new technology; a disgruntled Russian scientist (Mickey Rourke) looking for revenge; and a rival businessman (Sam Rockwell) eager to take the narcissistic Stark down a few pegs.

Unfortunately, the sequel hasn’t capitalized quite so well on the formula that made its predecessor so great. No longer is the balance between comedy and action so well maintained. Large swaths of the movie felt unfortunately and surprisingly dull—a large, uneventful series of talking points and dramatic sound bites, biding time until the action kicks up. There are some good lines in there to break up the monotony, but it just feels, for far too long a period, like simply nothing is happening.

This is not to demean the action, however. When the action sequences arrive they are spectacular—a dazzling and explosive feast for the eyes. When it came to the metal-on-metal action, it was a real sensory delight. Even these scenes felt all too brief, however, in context of the greater whole.

Another item that suffered was character development. Despite how things ended with the first one, Stark seems to have reverted into exactly the same egomaniac he began as. There are also a few inconsistencies with how the whole mess plays out.

For one, his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) seems to have gone nowhere—even taken a few steps back. Her only appearance in the movie seems to be to continuously scold him, and despite the romantic gains they seemed to have made, the clock seems to have rolled right back to where they were before. And this time, they don’t have the steady romantic gains—just an abrupt piece at the end that feels more like an afterthought than a well-planned look at a relationship.

For two, bear in mind it took Stark a whole half a movie to get a full hang on his suit the first time round. Here, however, his friend Lt. Colonel Rhodes (now played by Don Cheadle, who replaced Terrance Howard after he had a bit of a spat with Marvel Studios) seems capable of picking up a suit and using it to its full potential in mere moments, with apparently no instruction to it. Brilliant.

Scarlett Johansson. As Stark says: "I want one."

Scarlett Johansson is an excellent addition to the cast, though. Had my tongue wagging in no time flat. She’s looking young, sexy, and is constantly primed to kick some serious ass—which she does, not frequently enough, but very efficiently when she does. Badass about sums her up—and gorgeous is a good addition to it. Factor in that she’s a fantastic actress, too, and you couldn’t ask for better.

The bad guy role is also adequately filled by Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko—who, if nothing else, certainly looks the part. He oozes grime and grunge, and has the evil Russian bit down solid. Justin Hammer is less impressive of a bad guy—just a dweeby twat with a chip on his shoulder, really, but it looks like he’s the one they’re grooming to be a long-term problem.

All-in-all, it’s not a bad movie. The script is solid, the shooting’s good, there will be plenty of laughter from the crowd, and the action when it happens, leaves you hungering for more. It’s good, but it suffers from the same problem that many sequels do—a large shadow cast by its predecessor, projecting a role too great for it to fill.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

~ by Chris G. on May 9, 2010.

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