DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau | WRITER: Justin Theroux
CAST: Robert Downey, Jr., Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson | Rating: 3/5
Weapons manufacturer Tony Stark’s identity as Iron Man is now public knowledge. After six months of keeping the world safe from war, Stark finds himself pitted against his Russian arch nemesis, Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), and corporate rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Whiplash wants revenge for past wrongs, Hammer wants to defeat stark in business and is ruthless about pursuing his ends. Stark is also under investigation from the US Government which doesn’t want a weapon so powerful as the Iron Man suit in private hands.
IRON MAN 2 is the sequel to 2008’s excellent debut movie that introduced filmgoers to billionaire playboy, Tony Stark (Robert Downey). IRON MAN gave us the most rounded character portrayal of a superhero since Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker SPIDERMAN (2001). Sure, Tony Stark had the kick-ass suit and all that money, but his problems didn’t make him all emo and dull like Bruce Wayne they made him all passive-aggressive and smart-mouthy.
Director Favreau and Robert Downey have preserved much of the flavour of the central character, but unfortunately the rest of the film is filler; explosive, expensive, extensively computer-generated filler. Favreau clearly knows a thing or two about directing actors and when your cast boasts Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell and Samuel L. Jackson, then giving performers of their calibre thinly sketched characters isn’t too much of a risk. Scarlett Johansson’s performance consists of her looking beautiful and then pulling out the combat moves. She achieves these things with ease, but not much interest. Cheadle takes over the role of Colonel James Rhodes formerly played by Terrence Howard.
I was in another screening on the weekend and I overheard some dyed-in-the-wool comic fans talking about how much they enjoyed IRON MAN 2. They enjoyed seeing the character of Nick Fury, the introduction of Shield. They were also thrilled at the image of the new Thor that had been released earlier in the week and they were very happy that than an Avengers movie is in the works.
For Marvel fans this future franchise material must be thrilling, but for, the average film-going schmo, it’s beside the point. I don’t care that a Captain America movie is coming unless it has a strong and convincing story to support the character. For some fans just the embodiment of their favourite superhero in a big budget movie is enough to make it worth shelling out their $18.00.
However, as a non-fan, I would have liked to have seen the depth of Tony Stark’s character suggested in the other characters. I wanted to care more as Iron Man geared up for battle.
The film is the work of professionals, but some of the sparkle and interest of the first Iron Man seems to be lost amidst the big budget fireworks and flying scenes. There’s a whole plotline hinted at for Mickey Rourke’s backstory involving Tony Stark’s father, the interesting ambivalence that is hinted at, is dashed by the very black and white truth that is later revealed involving these powerful figures from the past.
The things I like about the movie is that Stark and Pepper’s (Paltrow) bantering relationship is taken up another notch. I also enjoyed the big industry shows that Stark and Hammer preside over. It felt as though these were styled to parody the Master of the Universe antics of Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer or Apple’s Steve Jobs.