For some reason we Americans love rooting for the big brash super hero, aka cowboy, aka chosen one in our entertainment (and I guess political) choices. If the said hero is also a narcissistic smart mouth we seem to love him even more. If this indeed hold true then you will have a blast with Iron Man 2. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) returns as Iron Man but unlike most superhero movies and cliché’s we’re used too, he doesn’t have an alter ego and isn’t in hiding. On the contary contrary, as a matter of fact, Tony Stark is louder, more childish, more irresponsible (for good reason) than ever and we love him for it. I’m not saying that these are redeeming qualities, but is nice to see a superhero with some actual character flaws beyond just a tortured past.
The film does a wonderful job pleasing both the fan-boy and the regular theater-go'er alike. As for me, I’m an avowed comic book nerd, so to see parts or at least homage paid to War Machine, Whiplash, Black Widow, Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., Hammer, Captain America, The Avengers and Thor sure tickled my nerdy-bone. But for all you people who have not a clue what those things are…no worries. Less than two of them are actually named and the character development shows you how each superhero/villain came to be…or at least how they are tied in with Iron Man. I actually find that a rare feat to please both the comic nerds and the general audience.
A lot of that pleasing comes from the acting. Robert Downy Jr. steals the show of course as stark, but Sam Rockwell as Hammer does an equally dis-likable and smarmy arms dealing nemesis Hammer. Vanko is the real villain here; creating electric whips to take down Tony Stark after previous injustices he perceives Stark enterprises put his family through. Unfortunately, Mickey Rourke seems like a Shakespearean actor stuck in a freewheeling roller coaster ride. Maybe it was just that I couldn’t get over his horrible Russian (I couldn’t understand what he was saying…thank goodness for subtitles) or the fact that a man who lives for revenge, never gets angry.
Other actors did adequate. If it weren’t for the Oceans movies, I would have thought that Don Cheadle (Rhodes) hasn’t a funny bone in his body. I’ve never been one to like Scarlett Johansson’s inability to act, but she did OK as Natasha, Stark's new assistant, mainly because she is supposed to be full of mystery and psychologically unreadable. Perfect for an actress with the emotional range of toast. Don’t worry everyone; Gwyneth Paltro (Pepper Pots) is still on Tony’s radar, even though she has a new position that misses some of the senior/jr. employee love interest dynamic. The love triangle story is about as anemic as the first one, but does have some excellent tension and a sizable payoff…with whom, I won’t say.
Now the real question, was the movie as good as the first. The truthful answer is, yes…but the actual answer may be different to different viewers. There’s not anything totally amazing that we did not see in the first film. The requisite explosions, fast cars, cool special effects and bad guy suits but I couldn’t help but think this movie wasn’t as spectacular as the first. There are some slow parts to explain some things (a dude was snoring behind me in the theater at one point, honest to goodness), and even parts that were a little belabored (the audience figured out where the secret was before the master mind Tony Stark). But those didn’t affect the film. I think where the film suffers is in comparison to its fist incantation. When we all saw the first film, we enjoyed the humor, the over the top acting, the awesome special effects and the happy ending. The second has nothing new or different to share and so therefore doesn’t pack the same wow punch we all experienced when watching the first with fresh eyes. But I promise you; this will be no less enjoyable.
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!