IRON MAN 2 Movie Review - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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  • Movie: Iron Man 2
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 2 hrs. 5 min.
  • Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Same Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Garry Shandling and Samuel L. Jackson
  • Written By: Justine Theroux
  • Directed By: Jon Favreau
  • Distributor: Paramount Pictures
  • Series: Iron Man 2

IRON MAN 2 Movie Review

Back in Black

By Rob Vaux     April 28, 2010

 

To those of you sputtering in incoherent fury right now, please remember that I’m just doing my job. Let’s not blow this little mixed review of a nominally decent event picture out of proportion. Don’t blame the messenger, see the film before you form your opinion, and hey, put that chair down before somebody gets- AAHHHH!!! NOT IN THE FACE! NOT IN THE FACE!
 
Look, in a lot of ways Iron Man 2 is fine. Just fine. It touches the same notes as the original film: the improvised banter still sparkles, Robert Downey, Jr. is having the time of his life, and director Jon Favreau never loses the characters in the midst of the fights and one-liners. He also finds a terrific villain in Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash, whose showdown with Tony Stark (Downey) in the midst of the Monaco Grand Prix stands as a high point in recent comic book cinema.
 
Having said that, Iron Man 2 really could have done better. So committed is it to recreating the feeling of the first film that it forgets to add any new elements of its own. It lacks the freshness of the original -- the pleasant surprise brought on by spot-on casting and an audience caught unawares – opting instead for recycled conversations and a few new guest stars. In the process, an ever-so-mild sense of disappointment enters the equation.
 
To be sure, the high points are quite high indeed, and for awhile I thought the film was on track to equal its predecessor. Downey knows his character extremely well, and his playful banter with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) hasn’t lost an ounce of its pep. Favreau centers the plot around the secrets of Tony’s father: a drinker, like Tony, who left unhealed scars for his son to deal with. One of those scars knows much more than anyone could guess about the Iron Man technology.
 
Ivan Vanko (Rourke) watched his father build the arc reactor in Howard Stark’s factory only to lose credit for the invention and die in an alcoholic haze. So he constructs his own exo-skeleton -- complete with electric whips than can slice through steel -- and takes aim at that pound of flesh in Tony’s hide.
 
Favreau does extremely well in developing the dynamic between them, as well as the parental ghosts with which Tony continues to struggle. He also has a good grasp on the film’s second major arc. The U.S. government wants to get its hands on the Iron Man suit, hiring a smarmy wannabe (Sam Rockwell) to develop some clones and putting Tony’s friend Rhodey (Don Cheadle) -- an Air Force colonel accustomed to following orders -- between a rock and a hard place. The two threads intertwine quite effectively, giving Cheadle something to do besides just blasting bad guys while Rockwell quietly steals the show out from under everyone’s noses.
 
And yet for all the strong elements on display, too many of them rehash similar parts of the first film. The same conversations crop up more than once, the same “superhero as rock star” motif is replayed again and again. Revisiting such notions holds a certain joy, but as Iron Man 2 proceeds, a sense of “been there, done that” comes creeping into the frames. Key moments in the film are badly misplayed: an homage to “Demon in a Bottle” can’t find the right emotional balance, while the climactic showdown proves curiously toothless in comparison to earlier scenes
Then there’s the whole S.H.I.E.L.D. business. Sam Jackson returns as Nick Fury -- and yes, he’s still the supreme ultimate bad ass of the universe -- but his scenes fail to connect to the remainder of the story, and the addition of Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow smacks of unnecessary fanboy bait. (Granted, she flips around on wires decently enough, but I’m sure Rebecca Romijn wants her gimmick back by now.) Iron Man 2 also pushes the upcoming Avengers project far too often, diminishing its own assets by acting as marketing for a movie still two years away.
 
None of that should prevent anyone from seeing it, and as the marquee attraction of the summer season, it could have been much, much worse. Fans should find enough to enjoy, provided they lower their sights and understand that the filmmakers didn’t recapture lightning in a bottle this time around. But it’s still a letdown. The original Iron Man left some pretty big shoes to fill, and rather than rise to the challenge, the sequel opts to play it safe. There’s no shame in that, but don’t be surprised if you come away from the film wanting more than it was prepared to give you.
 
Get caught up with the latest cast interviews for Iron Man 2:

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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almostunbiased 4/28/2010 2:03:32 PM

I will wait and judge for myself, but I wasn't expecting it to be better than the first anyway.  I love origin stories and am usually let down my the next go around.  Spidey was a good example, didn't care for the second film, though I know most did.  I also liked the first x-men better than the second, but really enjoyed both of them.  So as I am not expecting the this to be as good as the first, maybe I will enjoy it for what it is.

gauleyboy420 4/28/2010 2:18:04 PM

Gonna take your advice and wait til I see it to judge you Rob, But if I disagree with your review I'm goin straight for the face with that chair ;) That was the first time you've cracked wise in a column Rob, that actually made me laugh.

This is what I expected from reviewers, and yes your just doing your jobs as critics, but I think I'm gonna love it.

I'm glad they play up the rockstar superhero a bit, we didn't really get to see that in the first one, it was too centered on origin, and by the time Tony really started having fun as IronMan, and makes his announcement, the movie ends.

I am worried a little about the huge cast of characters, but still think it'll be good for me.

I am however, glad to have these sobering reviews, to keep my expectations from getting too high, hence allowing me to enjoy and love it more...

ponyboy76 4/28/2010 2:48:09 PM

Hey, i`m not going to fault Rob. Like he says, its his job and whether he liked it or not isn't going to change my opinion. Besides, when he rates a flick a certain grade and I see it, it usually is like a grade higher which means IM2  is a B which is fine by me. I do think some people with overly high expectations might be let down, but that's only due to their expectations. RDJ has done no wrong for what 2, 3 years now.? Just the fact that I can sit there and see shellhead on the screen again makes me happy.

krathwardroid 4/28/2010 3:59:48 PM

It's a sequel, this is to be expected. I kind of thought of Iron Man 2 as bridging a gap, anyway. I know I'll like this movie, though. It's Iron Man. Reviews are reviews.

superrichtheman 4/28/2010 4:22:46 PM

yeah, I'm going to see this regardless. But it is good to know NOT to get the old expectations to high.  What the hell is after this? Toy Story 3? Tron?

dawntreader 4/28/2010 5:50:39 PM

prince of persia is due soon...

robin hood

the last air bender

toy story three

Tron Legacy

twilight saga eclispe

harry potter and the deathly hallows

shadowprime 4/28/2010 6:09:41 PM

 

It is very tough to sustain "thrill of discovery".  IRON MAN did indeed have a special, unique, different feel from most other superhero fare - in part because of its actors (Downey was amazing AND I think Bridges performance isn't appreciated nearly enough!), in part because of the effects, and in part, I think, because IRON MAN himself was a pretty unapologetic, butt-kicking superhero (the scenes where he takes on the terrorists as they sack that village ..way cool). This time, we are going IN expecting Downey to be great, etc, so this movie faces different challenges.

If IM2 is good...not great, but good... this will have been a pretty good summer for superheroes, in my opinion, with KICK-ASS  and IM2.

Shadow

 

 

CaptAmerica04 4/28/2010 6:22:54 PM

Props to Rob for the humor.  You know you're gonna get shit from the fanboys (myself, likely, included) for not giving the film an A by default, but at least you're taking it with humor and grace.

With that said, I DO plan a stop by Office Depot on the way home after the movie to find just the right chair to hurl at you.

I still can't wait to see this, and I will be thoroughly in my fanboy haze when I do see it. 8 1/2 days and counting!

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 4/28/2010 8:24:53 PM

I just don't see why people knock a film for not besting the original instead of judging it on its own merits.  Why does a film have to be better than the one that precedes or bring something new to the table?  I mean as long as the story is good or great - who cares?

littlemikey979 4/28/2010 8:57:18 PM

Yes I am sure we will all wait to make our own decisions after opening night, but I dont think everyone is expecting to be blown away like with IM 1, you cant redo the first movie magic. I am sure its going to be awesome on its own and I'll probably see three times like I did the first

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