STARRING: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson

2010, 124 Minutes, Directed by:
Jon Favreau

Both action sequences in Iron Man 2 are pretty cool . . .

Okay, that bitchy comment makes one sound unappreciative of the movie while the truth is that there are in fact lots to like.

In many ways the movie actually improves upon the first film. Perhaps stung by criticism that the mano-a-mano fight sequence towards the end of the previous movie was a bit on the anticlimactic side, the Iron Man 2 film-makers have made sure that the long Iron Man and his War Machine sidekick battling a small army of army robot drones sequence does indeed kick metal butt. Or maybe they just had a bigger budget this time round . . .

The action sequences are truly thrilling to watch. It’s however a pity that there aren’t more of them. The movie however remind one what was missing from Transformers 2 for instance: human interest. Iron Man 2 takes some effort to make us like its characters. Robert Downey Jr. may be crowded out of the limelight a bit by all the newcomers, but he still makes us like the arch capitalist pig that is Tony Stark.

Plus the fact that director Jon Favreau (who also directed the previous Iron Man movie) actually knows how to edit action scenes and not present them in the incoherent music video style that dogs Michael Bay’s work. These scenes should be watched in a state-of-art theater – preferably IMAX – the loud sound as robots fly underneath highway overhangs literally rattled the cinema seats when we watched it.

Superhero sequels as of late have made the mistake of going “darker” with each new installment (we’re looking at you here, Spider-man 3). Iron Man 2 however sticks to the same light-hearted comedy flavor that made the first movie such an unexpected surprise hit at the box office. So don’t expect any Tony Stark does Leaving Las Vegas stuff (in the comics Iron Man famously struggled with alcoholism).

That is on the plus side.

On the minus side, the movie makes the classical superhero sequel mistake of introducing too many new characters . . .

"Does this movie count as an Avengers prequel then?"

It is about two years after the events of the first Iron Man movie. In this time Tony Stark (Downey), who invented the Iron Man suit, has single-handedly brought about global peace it seems! Naturally the U.S. government doesn’t like this sort of thing. They want Stark to relinquish the Iron Man designs so that their military can use it. Stark refuses of course . . .

In the meantime a tattooed Russian ex-con (a particularly smarmy Mickey Rourke – you wouldn’t want to sit next to this guy in the subway!) hatches a plan to get revenge on Stark because of something that Stark’s dad did to his daddy.

Also thrown into the mix are: a corrupt weapons dealer who comes across as an annoying mirror image of Tony Stark (Moon’s Sam Rockwell); Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to recruit Stark for a top secret spy organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D.; a sexy Russian superspy (Scarlett Johansson); a U.S. senator who hates Stark (Garry Shandling); Stark’s limo driver, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau); and so on. This is in addition to the characters from the previous movie played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle who replaces Terrence Howard.

Iron Man 2’s biggest problem is that with the many new characters vying for screen time it takes its sweet time in getting round to the action scenes. Like a chess player moving around its pieces, screenwriter Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder) takes a long time to shuffle characters around to get round to the action finale. At times it all feels unfocused and we actually thought to ourselves that “gosh, this is taking a bit long.”

It’s talky and while the dialogue crackles with inventive cleverness some subplots could easily have been left on the cutting floor to get to the action sooner. One such subplot is Iron Man / Tony Stark having daddy issues, which feels half-baked and not fully explored in any case.

Despite these faults it’s still an enjoyable time at the cinemas. The over-hype might have led one to expect more, probably because there aren’t as many genre movies offerings this year as last, but Iron Man 2 is a fun popcorn flick as the quote whores (critics who always get quoted on movie posters) like to say . . .

(Note: in-jokes abound. Look out for Stan Lee in his usual cameo and Captain America’s shield. There are also lots of small references to the upcoming Avengers movie. Does this movie count as an Avengers prequel then?)



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).