May 11, 2010
After the fantastic Iron Man, it was de rigueur for me to see the sequel. The first movie is a tough act to follow, given how smart, funny and original it was. Iron Man 2 is entertaining enough but hasn't surpassed its predecessor. The script is not as clever and there are too many sub-plots.It has the requisite CGI and action sequences, even though I was more impressed by Scarlett Johansson's (Black Widow) hallway fight scene. (Although story-wise, they probably could have cut out her character altogether.)
The film's strong point? The formidable performances. Robert Downey, Jr.and Mickey Rourke's line readings border on the sublime. Downey, Jr. is compellingly watchable even at Tony Stark's most egotistical and arrogant moments. He brags about privatizing world peace to Garry Shandling's smarmy Senator Stern, who wants the government to take possession of the Iron Man suit. (The Senator gets a funny comeuppance in the end.) Glib Mr. Stark is having too much fun being the superhero even though it puts his life in danger. Mr. Rourke is the tattooed, toothpick-chewing, cockatoo loving Russian villain Ivan Vanko with the bad-a*# whips. I enjoyed their first explosive encounter at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Much as I love Don Cheadle, Mr. Downey, Jr. seemed to have more chemistry with Terrence Howard as his best friend Lt. Colonel Jim 'Rhodey' Rhodes. Mr. Cheadle gets to poke fun at the whole casting hullabaloo when he says something to the effect of "I'm here, deal with it, let's move on."
Gwyneth Paltrow is back as the billionaire's right-hand girl Pepper Potts, exchanging repartee and building up the sexual tension. Sam Rockwell plays it right as the unscrupulous Justin Hammer, Stark's oily business rival. He really just wants to prove that he's waayy cooler than Iron Man. Director Jon Favreau reprises his role as Happy Hogan, the industrialist's personal assistant and chauffeur. I was somewhat disappointed that Samuel L. Jackson doesn't get to kick butt as Nick Fury, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The final battle (involving droids!) takes place in Flushing, Queens at the Stark Expo. Maybe it's just jittery me but in light of recent events, seeing New York as the target yet again was a wee bit unsettling.
There are a few hints at what's next in the Marvel movie universe. And as usual, stay for an extra scene after the end credits to get a little preview.