Saturday, February 1, 2014

Iron Man 2 (2010) [PG-13] ****

It's rare for a sequel to be as good as the original, although Iron Man 2 comes closer than most. Reprising his Iron Man role as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. displays a seductive combination of bravery, narcissism, vulnerability and even a fear of death. He's assisted by his secretary Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his military liaison Lt. Col James Rhodey Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who has a much larger, sidekick role.

Every superhero must have a nemesis, and in this story it is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a brilliant but brutish Russian genius who uses the groundbreaking work of his father, once an employee of Stark Industries, to create a fearsome, super strong flying suit, with long, whip-like arms that shoot bolts of lightning, and is the equal in many ways to Stark's. And, of course, the U.S. military wants to get their hands on Stark's Iron Man; Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), CEO of Hammer Industries, and U.S. Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) are co-conspirators in the plot to achieve this goal.

The screenplay by Justin Theroux is fast-paced, although it feels over-plotted, with a subplot involving a super-secret international spy agency with its own agenda, personified by Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson, whose martial arts prowess is reminiscent of Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux. As a result, Gwyneth Paltrow is left with little to do but whine and look petulant, while Sam Rockwell's role is reminiscent of similar corporate bad-guy roles in films like I, Robot and Spider-Man. The action sequences are dazzling, and production values, including costumes, sets and special effects, are over the top, but in the end it is Downey Jr., Rourke and Cheadle whose performances are critical to the success of the film, and they do not disappoint. 

Labels: action, adventure, flying, sci-fi, thriller    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 57/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=65, viewers=74)    

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