“Iron Man 2” Movie Review (2010)

5/16/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

“Iron Man 2”

Directed by Jon Favreau, written by Justin Theroux, 117 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

The over-hyped Jon Favreau movie, “Iron Man 2,” is a downer and a disappointment, especially when compared to the entertaining first movie that came before it.

For the most part, the original movie’s pleasures came from the attention paid to its script, its accomplished performances and the fact that the movie was driven by its characters first, its action second.

As impressive as it was (watching Stark learn how to fly as Iron Man was among the film’s highlights), the reason the movie worked as well as it did is for the very reason most good movies work as well as they do--you cared about the characters, the plot was involving, the production was polished. But in “Iron Man 2,” which loses the first film’s original four writers in favor of Justin Theroux, those elements are weakened to the point where bombast smashes hard into banality.

On paper, the sequel certainly looks promising. It features Robert Downey Jr. returning in the lead as the cocky, ultra-smart industrialist Tony Stark, whose sideline is well-known as Iron Man; Gwyneth Paltrow reprising her role as Stark’s kind-of, sort-of girlfriend, Pepper Potts; and Favreau himself as one of Stark’s bumbling boobs.

Joining them this time around are a group of actors who also offer a swirl of promise--Sam Rockwell as Iron Man’s nemesis, Justin Hammer; Scarlett Johansson in a dual performance best left discovered on the screen; Garry Shandling as a smarmy senator determined to get hold of Stark’s Iron Man suit; Don Cheadle taking over for Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes; Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury; and best of all, Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, a mysterious Russian out to undo Stark because of the atrocities Stark’s father inflicted upon Vanko’s own father.

So, those are most of the characters, which are enough to digest. But why stop there--after all, this is the launch of the blockbuster movie season, where a more-is-more sensibility is presumed to be better. And so in this film, we also have all of its plots and subplots, which further bog down the movie’s momentum.

A few worth mentioning are Stark’s struggle to accept how his father really felt about him; Stark’s struggle to verbalize how he feels about Pepper, to whom he hands over the family business; Stark’s struggle to stay alive when his mechanical heart starts to poison him; and the movie’s struggle to shoehorn all of the aforementioned characters and their roles into the film itself.

It’s too much, so much so that the relationship you really want to see most come to a head onscreen--the fight between Iron Man and Rourke’s villain, Whiplash, who sports metal dentures and electrified tentacles--is sidelined because there are too many other matters to attend to, such as squeezing Johansson into her skin tight leather dominatrix drag, which she works the hell out of.

The trailer promises audiences that Iron Man and Whiplash will have a go of it in this movie, and while they do, they only share the screen in two sequences. Otherwise, they oddly are kept apart, which sucks the movie free of the kind of white-hot tension it could have had. Yes, it’s still fun to watch Iron Man fly around while his alter-ego rips off the one-liners, and yes, the movie looks good in cinematographer Matthew Libatique’s capable hands, but there are other hands at work here--Favreau and Theroux’s--and what they’ve done is to choke so much life out of the franchise, it’s surprising that Iron Man’s suit doesn’t turn blue by the time the last of so many explosions roars onscreen.

Grade: C-

View the trailer for "Iron Man 2" below. What are your thoughts of the movie?

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  1. @graywolfpack said...

    Well here we go again, as I said on Facebook (graywolfpack) i totally disagree. As I have said before when I get to go to the movies, which isn't very often, I go to be entertained. I took my wife and my 10 year old son to see this and we thought it was a ball. Enjoyed all of it! I do agree that the Whiplash fight was to brief, would have love to seen more of that, and i suppose all of your points are valid, but over all we loved it. Ok, I wouldn't give it an A either, but a good B in my book, but hey, I'm just a ticket buying movie goer, what do I know. LOL.

  2. John said...

    I totally agree. The problem is there are all these plots and characters, but none of them are given anything to really do, or build upon. At the end of this movie, how far have we really come form the end of the first Iron Man? Stark changes his battery, and Rhodes wears the suit.
    I'm looking forward to Thor and Captain America, and ultimately the Avengers, and I'm really glad Favreau and Theroux are nowhere near any of them. This is a movie that's over written and under directed. What a disappointment...

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