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A High Tech, Lesser Value Superhero Sequel

  • May 7, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+4
At the end of 2008, I made two bold assertions: (1) That "Iron Man" was one of the year's best films; (2) that "Iron Man" was one of the greatest superhero films ever made. I still believe both to be true. Now we have "Iron Man 2." While it is thoroughly entertaining, it's also a bit conventional when compared to its predecessor, having less of a compelling story but more in the ways of action, special effects, gadgets, humor, and stunt work. It's a comic book through and through. That's fine by me - what it lacks in introspection it more than makes up for in sheer fun. We have plenty to cheer for, not the least of which is our hero, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), who when we last left him had shut down the weapon's division of his company to focus on more humanitarian uses for technology. The result was a high tech metal suit equipped with rocket boosters and missile launchers.

It's now six months after Stark revealed himself as Iron Man at a press conference. Despite the demands of a United States Senate committee, he refuses to share his technology with the American military, believing that world peace can be maintained only if it's privatized. At this meeting, he humiliates Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), the CEO of a rival company who has unsuccessfully tried to outdo Stark's technology with his own prototype machines; in an effort to get ahead, Hammer appeals to Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a Russian physicist who publically revealed his grudge against Stark by attacking him as he was car racing in Monaco. For as yet unknown reasons, Vanko has constructed an arc reactor very similar to the one implanted in Stark's chest. He has improved the design by attaching whips that surge with bolts of electrical energy.

Stark, meanwhile, is realizing that his chest implant, originally constructed as a way to keep him alive, contains an element that's slowly poisoning him. He doesn't handle it well. He acts out. He drinks in excess. He hastily appoints his former personal assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), as the new CEO of his company. If he's to survive, he must replace the core of the implant with an entirely new element, one he has tried but failed to create on his own. Out of the blue comes special agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who suggests that Stark look to his father's research for guidance.

New to the cast is Don Cheadle, who replaces Terrence Howard as Stark's dedicated but weary friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes. Also new is Scarlett Johansson as Stark's newly hired personal assistant Natalie Rushman, who says she's from the company's legal department.

Watching this movie, I was quite dazzled by the sights and sounds, and I found the plot engaging in a suspension-of-disbelief kind of way. I did not, however, find it persuasive, as I did the first film, which I felt put a refreshing and thought-provoking spin on the traditional comic book adversary; Stark might have physically battled with the power-hungry Obadiah Stane, but his real enemies were war and injustice, both of which he took part in by selling weapons of mass destruction. This time around, it's much more by the book - a superhero pitted against a madman out for revenge, a fight to the finish that includes a lot of things blowing up, a showcase of digital wizardry and highly choreographed stunts. There are a number of films that can give you pretty much the same thing.

That being said, there's no denying the quality of the performances, especially Downey, whose cocky take on Stark makes the film fun but not jokey. Rockwell is quite good, playing Hammer is if he were Stark's slightly goofier evil twin - comedy relief with a hint of something darker, you might say. Credit also to Rourke, who truly does convey the anger, resentment, and pain his character feels in every one of his scenes. He isn't given all that much screen time, but when he's on, he's on, resonating with a deep, calm, frighteningly low voice and an imposing build.

If there is an "Iron Man 3," and I have no doubt that there will be, I can only hope it doesn't follow its predecessor's lead and decline in quality. The original "Iron Man" was a superb film, redefining the superhero genre for both old and new generations of moviegoers. "Iron Man 2" is a great looking and wonderfully performed sequel, although its approach to the story is routine, more so than I had preferred it to be. Still, you've got to hand it to director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Theroux - they sure know how to entertain an audience. There's an early scene in which Stark, dressed as Iron Man, jumps off a plane, flies through the sky, and lands unharmed in the middle of one of his own lavishly high tech expos in New York City. Throngs of people cheer him on. I suspect the audiences for this movie will do the same when it's over.

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More Iron Man 2 reviews
review by . February 11, 2011
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review by . May 15, 2010
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Iron Man 2 takes off at a thounsand miles per hour and doesn't slow down.....
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review by . March 31, 2011
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review by . August 15, 2011
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Plenty of action. Plenty of drama, partying, flirting. But it lacked the heart of the first film (pardon the pun) and felt more choppy and predictable. There was one very satisfying relational moment, but other than that, I felt pretty indifferent and glad I didn’t hand over the moulah to see it in the theater. I’d suggest trying before buying.     
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review by . May 13, 2010
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Chris Pandolfi ()
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Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Wiki



Iron Man 2 is a 2010 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name from Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures. It is the sequel to 2008's Iron Man, and the second film in a planned trilogy.  Directed by Jon Favreau, the film stars Robert Downey Jr., reprising his role as Tony Stark.

Tony Stark has revealed his identity as Iron Man and is resisting calls by the United States Government to hand over the technology. Ivan Vanko has also duplicated the technology and built weapons of his own, creating new challenges for Stark.

The film held its red carpet premiere in Los Angeles, California, on April 26, 2010 and in France on April 28, 2010. It was released in the United States on May 7, 2010.





After the high-flying adventures of the firstIron Manpicture, the billionaire arms manufacturer and irrepressible bon vivant Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself nursing a hangover. But not like any hangover he's had before: this one is toxic, a potentially deadly condition resulting from heavy metals (or something) bleeding out of the hardware he's installed in the middle of his chest. This is the problem Stark needs to solve inIron Man 2, not to mention the threat from resentful Russian science whiz Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), whose father helped create the Iron Man technology. There's an even bigger problem for the film: the need to set up a future Marvel Comics movie universe in which a variety of veteran ...
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Details

Director: Jon Favreau
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: May 7th, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Studio: Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures
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