Friday 30 April 2010

IRON MAN 2 review

Iron Man 2 hits Cinemas in the UK today. More after the jump...

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is back and is struggling with his jet-set lifestyle. Whilst he and Iron Man have become international superstars, the Arc Reactor energy system that is keeping him alive is slowly killing him too, and as Stark says at the Expo that launches this movie, he's become very aware of his mortality and desperate to leave behind a strong legacy.
The Government are keen to seize ownership of Iron Man, aware of it's military applications if they're able to duplicate the model. Stark, understandably, wants to keep the suit as his property, thinking he should be seen as a national hero.
For fans of the original filmthe good news is that this sequel is great fun. If it was any other Superhero we'd probably complain about the lack of costumed screen time, but it's Robert Downey Jr who is understandably the main selling point of this movie and there's rarely a scene without his wisecracking mug.

The few scenes where he doesn't appear belong to scary pineapple haired Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who is trying to build an army of drone Iron Man suits for Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Vanko always looks like he's serving his own maniacal goal that, through vengeance, he can restore his fathers legacy. Hammer, always under the shadow of Stark Industries, just wants to be loved by the public as much as Tony Stark is.

There's no Dark Knight deep introspection or sacrifice for the greater good here. Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark is always going to be a millionaire playboy, and even the visible poisoning of his body isn't going to convince you that he's in any real danger. With both the Government and SHIELD breathing down his neck, you think he would lay low, but Tony instead decides to feed his ego by driving the Monaco Grand Prix in his own car. This is the standout sequence of the movie, a great introduction to Ivan Vanko as Whiplash, and towards the movie's theme of better living through technology, the briefcase suit is really cool.

Vanko and Hammer operate nicely as the mad scientist and his benefactor, and get enough time to develop, although this does leave the other new characters slightly short changed on screen time though. Scarlett Johannson's personal assistant/secret assassin doesn't have a lot to do, and really just seems there to help set up the Avengers. She is given one stand out action sequence where she showcases her ninja moves in a skin tight catsuit, but beyond that is barely present. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes might not be a new character, but given the change of casting from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle, might as well as be. Mostly gone is the chummy relationship he and Tony had in the first film (the pally banter has been shifted over to Jon Favreau's chauffeur who's given increased screen time), and instead Rhodey's despair at his friends self destructive tendencies is amplified. Rhodey's difficult choice between his friend and his Country does isolate Tony, leaving his superhero alter ego the only friend he can rely on.

As a set up for the Avengers, there's just enough the right amount of nods to future (and past?) Marvel characters, though it's obvious Iron Man would be better served with his own standalone sequel. He doesn't need to be a part of a team, in terms of MARVEL Superhero movies, he's the leader of the pack.


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