US Release Date: 05-07-2010
Directed by: Jon Favreau
- Robert Downey Jr., as
- Tony Stark
- Don Cheadle, as
- Scarlett Johansson, as
- Natalie Rushman
- Gwyneth Paltrow, as
- Pepper Potts
- Sam Rockwell, as
- Justin Hammer
- Mickey Rourke, as
- Ivan Vanko
- Samuel L. Jackson, as
- Nick Fury
- Clark Gregg, as
- Agent Coulson
- John Slattery, as
- Howard Stark
- Jon Favreau as
- Happy Hogan
Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2.
The massive success of 2008's Iron Man guaranteed a sequel. Its combination of action, special effects and charming lead made it one of the most entertaining movies of that year. With nearly the same team in front and behind the camera, this second installment delivers more of the same. This second go-round is as much fun as the first.
Unlike most superhero movies, where the big draw is the action and superpowers, the Iron Man films rely much more on the charisma of their lead. Robert Downey Jr. and his cocky charm are what make these movies so great. As with the first film, I enjoyed the scenes with Tony Stark more than I did the scenes with Iron Man. He's funny, cocky and charming, but still fallible. It might be encased in metal and powered by battery, but his heart is still very human. Where I might leave a Superman movie wishing I was Superman, when I leave an Iron Man movie, I wish I was Tony Stark.
The story picks up six months after the first film. Iron Man has been a huge success and managed to help keep world peace. Not all is peaches and cream however, as the U.S. Government wants Stark Industries to hand over the Iron Man Project to them, Tony is dealing with blood poisoning caused by his suit's power source and a Russian physicist, Ivan Vanko (Rourke) wants revenge against Tony because of bad blood between his father's and Tony's.
Returning from the first film is Gwyneth Paltrow as Tony's assistant, Pepper Potts. Pepper and Tony still share a certain chemistry together and their relationship progresses despite the inclusion of Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman, an employee of Stark Industries with some secrets of her own.
The villain Iron Man must face is yet again someone else wearing an armored suit. Just because Iron Man wears one, does every villain he face have to wear one too? I mean Spider-man doesn't just fight villains in bug costumes. The whips Ivan uses do make for pretty cool accessories though.
While the final climactic battle is well done, overall the movie is light on action. There are really only three separate action sequences. But then, as I said, Tony Stark is the real main character, but if you're expecting large battles, you might be disappointed.
The supporting cast is all capable although clearly they are playing second-fiddle to Downey Jr. Don Cheadle steps seamlessly into the role of Rhodey, following Terrence Howard's disagreements with the producers over money. Johannson looks good and manages to kick-ass in a short scene near the end of the movie. Sam Rockwell also gives a nice turn as a competing arms manufacturer. Rourke makes for a rather dull villain though. He speaks maybe ten lines in the whole movie and is possibly the weakest portion of the story.
Although it might not break any new ground, Iron Man 2 entertains, if not more, then at least as much as the original. So long as Robert Downey Jr. keeps suiting up, I'll keep lining up to see him do it.
Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, before the CGI has completed his costume.
Stark is funny, cocky and charming when he is sharing quips and one-liners with someone. His Daddy issues, his health problems and his drinking humanize him, but they are the dullest parts. I wanted more action and less contemplation.
There was certainly room for it. We do not need to see Ivan Vanko build his weapons in Russia. We do not need to see him deal with his dieing father. We do not need to see him get a passport. His first scene should have been at the race in Monaco. Stark figures out who he is later anyway.
The Black Widow is under used. She has one good action scene. Favreau nearly ruins it by inserting himself into it with a punch-line that I whispered to my son 5 seconds before Favreau says it. I thought the story was going to divulge that she and Vanko had a history, as they are both Russian. That would have amped up her storyline, but alas her entire role is to play observer, and report to Nick Fury that. “Mr. Stark displays textbook narcissism.” Come on, we already knew that and we all know he becomes a member of the Avengers.
They forsake her story line as it is merely a way to introduce another future member of The Avengers. Besides Black Widow, look for a suspiciously familiar half completed patriotic colored shield in Stark’s lab. Make sure you stay after the credits, or just look on line, for a 50 second clip introducing still another Avenger.
Stark is an entertaining character when he is “on”. It just does not happen enough here. He shares a few good moments with a Senator, and a couple with Pepper. His best scene is when he is talking to Hammer and an attractive reporter. It is full of sexual innuendo, but only Stark seems to pick up on it. For some reason, they cut the scene from the commercials where Pepper throws the helmet out of the plane and Stark tells Pepper, “You complete me!” Those are the moments that make Stark likable, not the ones where he sits alone in his lab working on his equipment and his inner turmoil.
With The Avengers movie opening this weekend I figured it was the perfect time to catch up on the Iron Man franchise. Wrong! This movie is one long bore. It's symptomatic of all that is wrong with Hollywood today. Sequels have taken over the industry. And not good sequels that advance the story line and character arcs like the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings movies. These Superhero movie sequels serve up the same old stale leftovers time and again. Everything that was good and fresh about the first Iron Man is rehashed for this movie. It's about as satisfying as cold pizza for breakfast.
I wholeheartedly agree with Eric that there isn't enough action. And the few action sequences it does have pretty much all suck. There is no tension to any of them and they are all completely lacking in even a remote sense of reality. I laughed out loud in the scene where Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer stops someone from calling the police during one of the big fight scenes that takes place in front of a crowd of thousands of people. Stopping that one phone call will surely keep this disturbance a secret from the authorities.
Yes Downey still has some charm in the title role, even if the humor has gone to the toilet. This movie's idea of a joke is to have Stark pee inside of his Iron Man suit while standing on a stage in front of a crowd. Hilarious. One thing's for sure, this movie has done absolutely nothing to alter my aversion to Paltrow. Is she playing Pepper Potts as a dumb blond or is she just a horrible actress? I honestly can't tell which. As for Johansson, she looks great as the Black Widow but – again agreeing with Eric – she is given very little to do. She gets one fight scene near the end where she poses a lot while beating up some generic looking security types. Like the entire movie, her fight moves are all flash and no substance.
The plot meanders pointlessly around. I was going to say it contained too much filler but hell the entire story is filler. If I had to find something complimentary to say about it I would mention the performance by John Slattery as Tony Stark's deceased father. He shows up in old film demonstrations where he looks a bit like Walt Disney in the 1960s. Slattery has one of those faces that just seems to fit with that time era just like the character of Roger Sterling he plays on AMC's Mad Men.
Enough with the pointless sequels already!
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (2010)