Iron Man 2 Directed by: Jon Favreau Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell Running Time: 2 hrs 4 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 7, 2010
PLOT: The whole world knows Tony Stark is Iron Man and they love him. Well, one man doesn't: Ivan Vanko (Rourke). Ivan wants to bring the Stark legacy to an end, and business Justin Hammer (Rockwell) is more than happy to help.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's easy to say everyone, but I would say if you were a fan of the first, you'll like the second. Temper your "wow" factor a little bit, because there isn't a lot of new here. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
EXPECTATIONS: The first Iron Man was a strong start. Plus, if you look at this TOP 7 Superhero Sequel Seconds list ... you'll notice one thing, the second can easily be better than the first. Let's say I expected a solid film, and I hoped for more.
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man: Most people will say they don't like a guy with a big ego. But I think almost everyone is making an exception for Tony Stark, right? The raging ego, the swagger, the boozing and the little bit of demons all work when coming from Downey Jr. He's a dick. But a beloved dick. We get a nice taste of Stark's past with John Slattery ("Mad Men") as his dad. Plus, you'd better like seeing a lot of Tony and a little of Iron Man, because the majority of the film we see the man without the iron. Score: 8
Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes: Cheadle must be along for the next Iron Man movie. Then again, that's exactly what I thought of Terrence Howard in the first film. Rhodey is involved in two big fights, but we never really get a sense of his style, his purpose or what he thinks about all of this. If this truly is a sidekick role, we need this character to step it up a notch. Training montage. That should solve it all, right? Score: 5
Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff: Normally I am not a fan of a woman being cast just because she's hot and going to flaunt it. Johansson makes this work though. She's smart, flirts well and when needed she can most definitely kick a little butt. This is a limited role and Johansson makes the most of it. Though, to be fair, she's no Hit-Girl (from Kick-Ass). Look, I don't know if I need therapy for even bringing up a comparison of Natasha and Hit-Girl, but while I liked Natasha taking out the guards, I didn't worship the moment. Score: 7
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts: I only saw Iron Man once, and I liked it quite a bit (except for the lack of a compelling villain). But I actually thought we already figured out the Potts and Stark potential romance. Obviously I am wrong. The two have their bickering down, and Potts now must deal with some real responsibility with Stark Enterprises. None of this erases the fact that Paltrow is taller than Downey Jr. in real life. Yes, he's standing on a crate. Potentially, so is Cheadle. Score: 6
Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko: Rough start. We meet Ivan in Moscow as he is mourning the death of his father. They actually have him scream up to the heavens. It's awkward. Speaking of, is there a youtube montage of actors doing this? With the Khan scream at the end of course. Back to Ivan. Rourke fills the role of a badass, though "mad scientist" is a little bit of a stretch. The worst part is that he's barley around long enough for the final fight. That was supposed to be his moment to finally release his rage. I didn't see that. Score: 7
Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer: It takes a while to figure out how Rockwell is going to play the CEO Justin Hammer. Finally it comes out, and it's a lot of fun. He probably has the most scene stealing moments, like when he's talking with Ivan over a meal in an airport hanger. We need CEO's like Tony and Justin. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of the Hammer. Also, check out his hands. They're drenched in self-tanner. I like to think this is part of the character instead of a mistake by the makeup person. Score: 8
TALKING: There is a lot of talking, and surprisingly little action. Be prepared for that. Luckily, it's Downey Jr. delivering many one-liners and he makes it work. Whether he's saying, "Don't think, drink," or talking to his freakishly awesome computer, he keeps the film moving along even without the suit. Score: 7
SIGHTS: It's odd to say that my favorite usual moments are when Tony is simply working on his computer. That doesn't seem right. One scene that didn't work for me was when Ivan introduces himself to the world at Monaco. While it does look good, each character relies on 100 percent luck avoiding speeding cars, etc. Wait, that has nothing to do with the special effects. That's the story's fault. OK, so that scene looks good, but the overall action of the film relies on quick-cuts and shaky camera's so you assume you know what's going on, but you don't know for sure. Score: 7
SOUNDS: Retro, but in a way that doesn't feel particularly hip. "It Takes Two," is just one of the songs that also features some AC/DC. My favorite musical moment is when Justin Hammer walks out at the Stark Expo to "Pick up the Pieces" by The Average White Band. Yes, the same song that was in Jon Favreau's Swingers. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: This feels like cheating, because Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) swoops in and pretty much just fixes everything wrong in Tony Stark's life. But listening to Nick, you realize how much more there is (and will be) in future movies. The possibility of more is the best part of Iron Man 2, that's an issue.
ENDING: Yes, there is something at the very, very end of the credits. It wasn't that exciting if you simply read movie news about what other comic book films will be coming. As far as the film's actual ending, I had the hunch they were saving all of the important action until the end. While there was lots of action, it never fell into the "important" category.
QUESTIONS: How does Rhodey know how to work the Iron Man suit so well? Did Stark Enterprises stock plummet once they put an assistant in charge? A slowly dying Tony is what makes him compelling, why take that away? Is Stan Lee as Larry King his best cameo yet? Does Bill O'Reilly's appearance prove he's just a character and we shouldn't take him seriously? I mean, not even John Stewart and Steven Colbert sell out, and one of them is an actual character.
REWATCHABILITY: It felt longer than a two-hour film, and I am worried a second viewing might show more chinks in the iron armor. With that being said, I don't change the channel when it's on cable, I'm just saying I'm not heading to the theater for a second viewing.
It seems like it will always be good times to hang out with the egomaniac Tony Stark. This film should feel very familiar. Another bad guy wants an Iron Man suit and Tony is worried about his palladium infection. Just so you know, my wedding ring is also made out of palladium. Tony is right to worry about infection. I am currently suffering from cooking, cleaning and watching "Project Runaway." It must be ring related.
There is very little at stake with Iron Man, and the story actually takes care of one of them with a new fancy triangle. One particular scene just irks me. It's the Monaco Grand Prix racing scene. Dodging formula one racing cars traveling extremely fast removes anything to be nervous about. You simply know the key players will be fine. It's like watching the pod race in The Phantom Menace. It's just filler that looks good. Plus, the final battle with droids feels like more action filler while we wait for Ivan to make an appearance. That's the reason this film isn't great. The action doesn't really matter.
Rourke, Rockwell and Johansson are welcome additions to the cast, but it still doesn't feel like were seeing anything jaw-droppingly new. There's a feeling on ... been here, done this. How about a bad guy who doesn't simply want to dress up like Iron Man? The thing we can count on though is that the good times keep rolling, and I'll hang out with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark every chance I get.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10