Director: Jon Fareau
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell
Synopsis: Tony Stark’s popularity has sky rocketed since revealing to the world he is Iron Man. However, the government desires the suits tech to be handed over, not trusting such power in the hands. Pressure to relinquish the suit only increases when mysterious Ivan Vanko produces his own miniature Arc reactor, the same device that powers Iron Man’s suit, and poses a threat to national security. Meanwhile, Stark is losing control as a result of battling his own demons.
A review by Film Nerd
There is no question that the original Iron Man was a surprise hit, unless you were already a dedicated fan of Marvel comics before the release of the film. For many, it not only marked another successful comic book adaptation, but a sparkling return to form for Robert Downey Jr., whose presence and charisma defined the film and fitted the character of playboy billionaire Tony Stark like a glove. Sequels to films such as these are a very tricky prospect, needing to capture what made the original so entertaining, while adding new elements to avoid a feeling of dull repetition.
Iron Man 2 is a very solid, entertaining sequel. Once again, it is truly Downey Jr.’s film, his character defining the tone, and maintaining a sense of fun to the proceedings. However, Stark is battling personal demons this time whereas in the last film it was battling the demons of his company’s legacy. It is revealed early on that the element Palladium, which acts as the core of the Arc reactor and powers the Iron Man suit, as well as keeping his heart running, is slowly poisoning him. Indeed, the very thing keeping him alive is also killing him.
This is bad enough, without external pressures mounting. The government is seeking access to the suit technology in the interest of national defence, the (not unreasonable) fear being that other countries may indeed develop this technology to use against the United States. Stark’s defence that this technology being developed elsewhere is not likely for another five to ten years is destroyed on the appearance of Rourke’s Ivan Vanko, who develops his own Ark reactor to power his own suit. He adopts the identity of Whiplash to take revenge on the Stark family for stealing the Ark technology from his father in the first place. Roarke continues his career resurrection here, playing the role with an effective, quiet menace.
The external characters all get a chance to shine. Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard as Stark’s best friend Lt. Col. Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes, and frankly does a much better job. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts maintains that mix of spice and vulnerability that worked so well in the first film, and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is thankfully an entertaining performance in a way many of hers have not been of late. Special mention has to go to the always brilliant Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, a business rival of Stark’s. It is a role that could have been dull when playing against top form RDJ and Rourke, but in Rockwell’s hands it is a true stand out.
Overall, the film equal’s but does not quite better the original outing. That said, it does have a true “middle chapter” feel. Though Iron Man 3 is not yet slated, Marvel’s Avengers is due out next year, uniting Iron Man and Hulk with Thor and Captain America, both characters due for their own films prior to the release of the Avengers. That said, it is here that the true Marvel Fanboy can get extra out of this film. I noticed at least two Easter eggs in the film hinting to these later films, one of which had me nerd-gasm enough to give my fiancée a significant fright in our car at the drive-in! Note, stick around after the end credits, as one of these Easter eggs is dropped then. All I can say is that I can’t wait!
A entertaining sequel that, despite not feeling an improvement of the original film, at least equals that previous effort. An extra half star was given for the fanboy references.
4 stars (out of a possible 5)
Iron Man 2 trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siQgD9qOhRs]