Iron Man 2 (2010)

6 May

 

imagesSmith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Have you ever noticed that in almost every superhero movie, the human side of the hero keeps its alter-ego as a burden? Clark Kent is still trying to keep his Superman identity a secret to the public, Bruce Wayne’s Batman is a curious case, and Peter Parker is still angst-ridden when he’s not Spider-Man and even more troubled when he is Spider-Man. Now with Iron Man, Tony Stark has the whole world know who he is and doesn’t seem the least bit resentful. This is why he’s one of the freshest superheroes in recent memory, based on a popular Marvel comic book and brought to life by Robert Downey, Jr. in 2008’s smash hit “Iron Man.” So you would expect a sequel and hope that Robert Downey, Jr. can give the Tony Stark the same wit and strength that he gave in the original. And he does in “Iron Man 2.”

While the original spent more time getting to know its characters and keeping the action to an absolute minimum, this sequel knows that we already know the characters and now we want to see them in action. There is more action in “Iron Man 2” and each sequence is, I must say, better crafted than the original. The best CGI sequence occurs at a racetrack when a villain and Tony square off—the villain in a suit, Tony in a car. Sometimes though, the action almost makes the characters not as interesting as they were in the original.

Robert Downey, Jr., of course, owns this film. His narcissism, wit, and innate charisma make everything he does in any movie make you want to root for him. In “Iron Man 2,” his Tony Stark has let everybody know he is Iron Man and brings world peace by traveling around the globe and eliminating problems. But privately, he’s dying. He is suffering from palladium poisoning caused by the magnetic device in his chest that was, ironically, keeping him alive. I love the scene where he treats his birthday party like his last and does a drunken standup to his guests.

His actions in that scene cause his friend Rhodey (Don Cheadle, reprising the role Terrence Howard played in the original) to steal one of Tony’s extra iron suits and try to smash some sense into him. There are many conflicts like that in this movie, two others more threatening. There, of course, has to be a villain. This one is bitter, fully-tatooed-body, Russian physicist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who has created his own iron suit, with a few nasty adjustments. There is also a smarmy entrepreneur named Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who wants Vanko to make about fifty iron drones for the Military to out-Stark Tony. My problem is that Rourke, who is marketed as the main villain in this film, is not very compelling. His performance mainly is composed of insisting growling and nasty laughter with his golden teeth and full-body tattoos. Sam Rockwell, however, outwits Rourke in every scene which features them together, trying to outwit Downey Jr., even. Rockwell delivers a brilliant comic performance, a whiner trying to get in the big leagues but tries WAY too hard.

With all these characters I’ve mentioned, I almost forgot the rest of the main characters. Another little problem with this movie is how many characters there are and how hard to could be to keep track of them. Pepper Potts, Tony’s Girl Friday and possible love interest from the original (still played by Gwyneth Paltrow), is back as CEO of Tony’s weapons company. She isn’t used enough in this movie. The chemistry between the two in the original was one of that movie’s treasures. Here, they just share a few good scenes together and then they just worry about each other, Pepper more worried about Tony. New to the story is a sexy martial arts expert named Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) who may not be who she seems. She was called Black Widow in the original comic book—wow, welcoming. Who have I left out? Only Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Hogan (Jon Favreau, director of this movie), other familiar faces.

“Iron Man 2” is not as good as the original but I did like it. This sequel delivers more or less than it promises and Jon Favreau, who also directed the original film, proves more of himself as an action director, pacing the action appropriately. I did like the action, the script by Justin Theroux delivers some clever one-liners (the best ones are delivered by Downey Jr. and Cheadle), and I really loved seeing Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark in action once again. Its not-so-particularly compelling Russian villain and overuse of characters keeps this from being one of the better superhero movie sequels (such as “Spider-Man 2” and “The Dark Knight”). But I did like seeing Tony Stark sport on the iconic iron suit and kick some ass!

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