June 15, 2010

Iron Man 2 (2010)

LIKE MOST MOVIEGOERS (and comic book fans), I was happily surprised at the greatness of 2008’s Iron Man.

On paper, it shouldn’t have worked: a movie starring a formerly uninsurable actor as a B-level comic superhero, directed by the guy who made Elf. But Iron Man was a worldwide critical and financial smash, so a sequel was simply a question of when, not if, it would be made.

And like many other superhero sequels, Iron Man 2 stacks its deck with more characters, both heroes and villains, as if to laugh in the face of those sequels that sucked when they did the same thing. (Batman Forever, anyone?)


Ever since playboy millionaire magnate Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) revealed he’s Iron Man at the end of the first film, he’s amassed a rockstar-like following by the public, while congressmen and the US military demand he hand over the Iron Man suit in the name of national security.

With his newfound fame and success as Iron Man, Stark is even cockier and more reckless than before – throwing his weight around and frustrating both the government (including buddy Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle)) and his co-workers (especially newly appointed Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)).

Watching all of Stark’s shenanigans from Russia is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who has a score he intends to settle with the Stark family. Further complicating things is smarmy government weapons contractor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who’s jealous of Stark’s success. And to top it all off, the mini reactor that gives both Iron Man and Stark life (Stark’s heart was severely injured in the first film) is slowly killing him by turning his blood toxic.


Much like Tony Stark, Iron Man 2 lacks a true heart. Despite a handful of explosive action scenes and hero/villain posturing, there’s something missing that makes it more of a passive, detached experience than it should be. Not that director Jon Favreau and screenwriter Justin Thoreaux don’t try to make things engaging and deep, including Stark and Vanko wrestling with daddy issues during their sins-of-the-fathers plotline.

And a warning to anyone who (like me) geeked out at the early footage of Rourke as Whiplash, as he tore things up at the Monaco Grand Prix: Savor what you saw, because that’s all you get of Whiplash until the finale. In between, Rourke is simply Ivan Vanko, a thug with a physics degree who helps Justin Hammer create military drones to outperform Iron Man and make him obsolete.

On the plus side, most attempts at humor succeed. And things get blowed up real good during the action sequences (the finale involving Iron Man, War Machine, an army of killer robot drones, and Whiplash 2.0 is off the hook). But in the end, Iron Man 2 seems to be missing an intangible modicum of fun that made the original such a blast.


Is it suitable for your kids?
Iron Man 2 is rated PG-13 for “intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.” Some examples:
* Vanko breaks a prison guard’s neck
* Lots of explosions, comic-book fighting/violence, and a mayhem-laden finale in which a main character dies in a fiery bomb blast
* A drunk Stark celebrating at his birthday party
* Innuendos and profanities

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
If she’s a fan of Iron Man or Downey, then probably. Even so, wait for the rental.

Ess not to lett…to vip it…vip it goot.

Iron Man
* Director: Jon Favreau
* Screenwriter: Justin Theroux
* Stars: Robert Downey, Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Garry Shandling
* MPAA Rating: PG-13


DGB said...

Sadly, I agree. There's nothing really at stake in the movie. The biggest issue seems to be that the government wants to buy the suits. And for some reason, that would be a bad thing.

Why would you take a great character like Whiplash and put him in a lab for most of the movie??? Why doesn't Whiplash, say, want to use his powers to take over the world instead of just punishing Tony Stark?

Ah, such missed opportunities.

Kathy B. said...

Can anyone think of a sequel that was as good or better than the first movie????
I can't.
Vip it real goot.

DGB said...

Empire Strikes Back
Godfather 2
Toy Story 2
Lethal Weapon 2
Lord of the Rings 2 & 3
Wrath of Kahn
Terminator 2
Spiderman 2
Rocky 2
X Men 2

It can be done.

FilmFather said...

And of course, don't forget Superman II...but NOT the Richard Donner cut:


DGB said...

I very nearly listed that one too...but not everyone feels it's a superior sequel.

Phillyradiogeek said...

This review pretty much sums up my thought perfectly. Although separate aspects of the movie are fine, the film as a whole doesn't seem to equal more than the sum of its parts. It seems to exist for no other reason than to say "Hey look, we made an Iron Man sequel."

And the best scene appears after the end credits!

Video Zeta One said...

The cinematic equivalent of a Twinkie.... no nutritional value whatsoever, pure unadulterated high fructose corn syrup, and proud of it.

This is not a criticism. We all need to indulge in some empty calories sometimes. I love Twinkies.

Unknown said...

I agree with your review of IM2. Going into the movie I had certain expectations of how the sequal would take place. It's not a bad movie but it's nothing of substance etiher. Just lots of cheap jokes, nerdy evil mastermind plotting to take over and a villian whose special powers were under used in the movie. Best part of the movie was when TS got drunk at his own party and started trashing his house!

download movies said...

The film's special effects are excellent. Some of the time, however, they're used on shootouts and explosions that don't produce much excitement. There's a lot more humour this time around. I was smiling or laughing during most of the film.


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