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A Little Uneven but Far From Being Rusted

  • May 9, 2010
Superhero movies have a strange formula to them that, for the most part, has served it well for the past decade.  The first movie spends quite a bit of time on the origin of the hero and thus it's usually not quite as interesting as the first sequel.  Once we get to the first sequel we've passed the "how" someone became a hero and usually the "why," so the bigger focus is usually on a nemesis to the hero and perhaps digging a little deeper into the hero's own story, feelings and motivations.  Iron Man 2 follows this same formula with ease.  In the past, most times the second film has usually been better than the first.  This actually isn't true of Iron Man 2.  It's good and fun (mostly) but it never achieves the incredible charm of the first film. 

Since the first movie ended, there has been world peace for the time being.  The United States millitary, however, is wondering if this will last.  And how long.  Other nations have been trying to make another type of suit similar to the one that Tony Stark himself has made.  As a result of this, the US Military wants the technology that Tony Stark used to make these weapons.  Stark refuses, claiming that the other nations must be at least a decade behind.  With the exception of Justin Hammer, a bumbling business man also trying to make and design weapons... he's the exception because, according to Stark, he must be at least twenty years behind. 

The answer suffices until someone in Russia, a man named Ivan Vanko (played very well by Mickey Rourke) actually does create something using similar technology and attacks Tony Stark.  With that in mind, the US is pressuring Tony more to give up his technology, while Justin Hammer works behind the scenes to utilize Ivan's resourcefulness to make a better weapon than what Tony Stark has created.  There's more to the story than this, including secrets from Tony Stark's past, as well as having to cope with the possibility that he might die. 

If anything, Iron Man 2 gets points for being able to juggle all that it has going on.  It tries to be more complex and bigger than the original, but that may be part of what the problem with Iron Man 2's narrative is.  Not that it throws too much in, but mostly that it tries too hard to be better than the first one.  There are some interesting characters introduced (the most amusing of which is Nastasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson).  Mickey Rourke does a fantastic job as Ivan, but Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer is more likely to annoy you than anything.  You can only spend so much time rooting for him to falter.  Not because he's one of the "bad" guys, but because his character is not in the slightest bit charming.  If he was supposed to be an unlikable character, then the crew behind Iron Man 2 succeeded.  Better than they know.

The interesting change to the cast, however, is Don Cheadle playing James Rhodes.  He replaces Terrance Howard, but I wonder just how well the boys behind the scenes were thinking when they did this little number.  Don Cheadle doesn't do a bad job, but Terrance Howard is definitely better.  The rumor is that Terrance Howard asked for more money.  And while they may not have signed him up... they might've done well to at least get someone that actually resembles Terrance Howard in some way.  It might not bother anyone else in the long run, though.  And Don Cheadle does do an incredible job.

If anything, the story of Iron Man 2 is good, but it's also pretty slow.  Save for a couple of action sequences, the story doesn't really have a whole lot of action until the last half hour or so.  It's actually amazing just how little Stark actually puts on the suit.  For the most part, the movie spends a lot more time on Stark's melodrama, stacking in quite a bit for the audience to swallow.  It does a good job of juggling it, but there are moments when you're wondering if Stark is ever going to start kicking butt and taking names.  The end result is a movie that actually feels unbalanced.  If the first hour and a half of the movie lacks too much action, the last half hour is so full of it that it lacks the substance of the beginning and middle.  Jon Favreau begins to drown everything out in so many weird, pointless explosions while throwing in several action sequences that, while fun at first, can actually feel like overkill.  It just doesn't do nearly as good a job as the first film in balancing its story and its action.  That by no means makes Iron Man 2 bad.  It just means that depending on who you are... you'll probably find the first one is more fun because it did a much better job of balancing it all.  Tony Stark is also not nearly as clever and witty, but Robert Downey Jr. is still incredible within his role.  The movie is filled with humorous moments, though some of them just feels very strange and awkward.

The special effects are nice overall.  Although Marvel still seems to have a fetish with ragdoll effects.  It's not nearly as noticeable in the Iron Man movies as much as it is in say... Spider-Man, but when you do notice it, it can feel less like you're watching a movie and more like you're watching some kid play with toys.  Nevertheless, Iron Man 2 is still a fun movies.  It has some heart, laughter and explosions. 

For those looking to a great start for the summer, Iron Man 2 will definitely do it.  The movie isn't as good as the first Iron Man movie, but it's not bad in the slightest.  It doesn't live up to all the hype that was expected of it, but that probably comes from the film getting far too much hype.  Meaning, it's a good movie, if you've tempered your expectations from the bombardment of ads and promotional stuff surrounding it.  Do that, and you're apt to leave Iron Man 2 a happy movie-goer.  Refuse and the only reason I can think of that someone would actually hate this movie would be if they let their expectations get absurdly high.  Go see it, and hopefully you'll find it in you to like it too.

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May 10, 2010
Great review. I like that the movie had enough going on and handled everything well. People say that the movie has too much going on, but the thing about that is Iron Man 2 HANDLES everything well and you can follow it. It's not a plot less movie, a movie with an incomprehensible plot or a movie with so much going on you can't follow it. Yeah, it could have used more action but the action it DID have was fantastic.
May 10, 2010
Yeah, Iron Man 2 has a lot going on, but it juggles it well, which is something I like.  But it also doesn't throw so much at you at once.  So it was easy to take it all in.  Especially because other situations involved different characters as well.  Not hard to follow at all.  I can't imagine anyone would even get lost in it.
May 09, 2010
Great review, Sean! Great touch in including that little bit about Terrance Howard--they should've learned from Michael Keaton, you cannot ask for more money when the chaarcter you are portraying wears a mask. This was alright but definitely expectations need to be tempered.
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #5
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this movie


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