Film Review: Iron Man 2 (Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios)

Film Review: Iron Man 2 (Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios)
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I know this may not seem possible, but Jon Favreau has topped himself with Iron Man 2.  Favreau builds and improves everything about his excellent first film here – it’s bigger, funnier, more dramatic and more cohesive than the original.

Things start off rather ominously with Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) beginning his plot to pay back Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) for his father’s sins against his family.  Seems that Ivan’s father worked for Stark Industries at some point, but why the bad blood?

Stark battles a lot of things and a lot of people in Iron Man 2 – mostly himself.  Always a bit of a boozer, Stark sinks too far into self-pity at his birthday party and becomes something of a menace when he decides to party with his Iron Man suit on.  Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) steps into a spare Iron Man suit after the playboy decides to ratchet up the partying to include blasting objects.

The reason for Stark’s downward spiral?  A combination of the power cells keeping him alive, but also poisoning him, the government wants the Iron Man suit and Vanko aka Whiplash made “God bleed” in a battle with Stark on a race track in Monaco.

There’s a lot going on in Iron Man 2, so don’t feel as if I’ve spoiled something for you as most of this in the trailers already.  Some of the best stuff are the little asides that Stark/Downey Jr. throws out there.  Downey Jr. is really a marvel to witness in this film.  He’s light enough to carry off some great, almost Cary Grant-ish old-style rogue comedy but also serious enough when called for but not so serious that he comes off as silly (no affected voice like Christian Bale as Batman).

Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman

There are so many great actors in Iron Man 2 that it almost boggles the mind.  Downey Jr., Rourke (who, had he just had a little more screen time could have been as essential and impactful as Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight – but Rourke is still damn good here), Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson (hoping to see her in more Marvel films), Sam Rockwell (so uber-sleazy as Justin Hammer, Stark’s industrialized weapons nemesis), Samuel L. Jackson (reprising his role from the first film’s “Easter Egg” as Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Gwyneth Paltrow (also reprising her role from the first film as Pepper Potts – much more interesting here, but still on the sidelines).

Nick Fury gives Tony Stark the "stink eye"

Almost nothing I write, or anyone writes at this point is going to stop this film from being a ginormous success.  Iron Man 2 has already earned well over $100 million overseas where it opened last weekend and will no doubt shatter some sort of box office record (if not many of them) this weekend when it debuts here in North America.  But I’m serious when I say that Iron Man 2 is one sequel that BETTERS the original.  I’m going to see it again this weekend with my family for sure.

Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash

Iron Man 2 – Trailer 3 in HD

Tony Stark Visits Ivan Vanko in jail

Tony Stark Wants Natalie Rushman to be his new assistant

Iron Man 2 Press Conference

Official Iron Man 2 Website

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