Iron Man 2

 

PLOT:

Six months after revealing his identity as Iron Man, Stark Industries CEO Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has helped maintain world peace. He re-institutes the Stark Expo in Flushing, New York, to continue his father’s legacy. A United States Senate committee, led by Senator Stern (Garry Shandling), demands Stark release the technology for military application. Stark refuses, publicly embarrassing rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) in demonstrating how competitors are at least five to ten years away from successfully recreating the technology, while he remarks that Hammer is 20 years away.

Stark has discovered the palladium in the arc reactor keeping him alive is slowly poisoning him. All attempts to find a substitute element have failed. Growing increasingly despondent and thrill-seeking as a consequence of what he believes to be his impending death, he appoints his former personal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) CEO of Stark Industries, replacing her with Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson).

While participating in a race in Monaco, Stark is attacked by Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who has constructed a miniaturized arc reactor of his own, including whip-like attachments harnessing the electrical energy. Defeating Vanko with the aid of his briefcase armor, Stark discovers that Vanko is the son of his father’s old business partner, disgraced Russian physicist Anton Vanko, who collaborated on the first arc reactor and has passed the technology on following his death. Ivan blames Tony and Howard Stark for Anton’s fate; Anton raised his son to believe Howard Stark betrayed him, having him deported back to the Soviet Union in order to receive all the credit for the arc reactor. Hammer has Vanko broken out of jail, and recruits Vanko to perfect a line of armored combat units that he will use to upstage Stark at his own Expo.

With the government leaning on him even harder following the revelation that arc reactor technology is in the hands of someone else, Stark throws what he believes will be his last birthday party and promptly proceeds to get drunk while wearing the Iron Man armor, becoming a danger to himself and others. His friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is forced to take the Mark II armor and subdue Tony, delivering the armor to the military afterward. Hammer arrives and showcases several different weapons (Caseless 9mm pistol, Auto shotgun, an FN-2000, Grenade Launcher, Vulcan Rotary cannon) to arm the suit with. Disgraced, Stark is approached by Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D (Samuel L. Jackson), who reveals Natalie is an undercover agent. He also provides Tony with a chest of his father’s old artifacts, which can hopefully be used to find a cure for his palladium poisoning. Fury also informed Stark that his father was one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. Stark realizes his father has left him a hidden message in the original diorama of the 1974 Stark Expo; the model is also a diagram of the atomic structure of an unknown element, which Howard was unable to synthesize due to the limits of his era’s technology. Tony builds a particle accelerator (held up partially by a halfway-constructed shield) in his home with the aid of his computer J.A.R.V.I.S. (voiced by Paul Bettany) and creates the new element. The element is then loaded into a modified arc reactor chest piece and cures Stark’s palladium poisoning. Afterward, Ivan calls Stark, revealing that he is free and set on revenge.

At the Expo, Hammer unveils his new military drones captained by Rhodes in a heavily-weaponized version of the confiscated Mark II armor. Stark arrives as Iron Man intending to warn Rhodes, but Vanko takes control of both the drones and Rhodes’s new armor, setting them to attack Iron Man. As Stark battles against these remote-controlled enemies, Potts has Hammer arrested while Stark’s bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Natalie race to Hammer’s Queens facility to stop Vanko. By the time they arrive, Vanko has already departed for the Expo in a new, more powerful suit of armor, but Natalie is able to give Rhodes control of his armor again so that he and Stark can fight together.

After taking down the drones, the two fight Vanko in his new armor. Stark and Rhodes try to damage Vanko’s Armor, but to no avail. They defeat him with a combined blast of their repulsor rays, but Vanko’s armor and drones are then revealed to have been equipped with self-destruct charges. As they begin to go off, Stark races to save Pepper, rescuing her at the last minute. After Stark flies Pepper to a nearby rooftop, she quits her CEO position, claiming it to be too stressful for her, and she and Stark finally kiss, thus beginning a relationship. Rhodes departs with the Mark II armor with little objection from Stark.

At a debriefing, Fury informs Stark that while he is “unsuitable” for the “Avengers Initiative”, S.H.I.E.L.D. wants him as a consultant and wants the Iron Man armor on the team with a more suitable person using it. Stark agrees on the condition that Senator Stern present him and Col. Rhodes with their medals for bravery.

In a post-credits scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) informs Fury over the phone, “We’ve found it”, as an impact crater in the New Mexico desert is shown to contain Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor.

REVIEW:

Before I get into the review, I have to get on my knees and thank the movie gods that this wasn’t in 3D. Sure, there were some scenes that theoretically could have looked better, but honestly, I think 3D takes hurts more than helps. Fact is, Iron Man 2 is more story driven, rather than effects, which is why 3D would not work. Not to mention, that chances are, at the end of the year, I predict this will still be one of the top films of the year(sequels to Toy Story, Shrek, Harry Potter, and Twilight…3 of 4 of these will be in 3D…will more than likely take the top spot), but to know that a film without 3D is making this kind of bank has to make those that think 3D is the only way to go nowadays, a bit wary.

Continuing where Iron Man left off, Iron Man 2 takes us on a journey with Tony Star after he has reveled himself to be Iron Man and the repercussions and changes that have come along with it.

The story here isn’t as good or deep as its predecessor. Some have said that Iron Man 2 suffered from “sequelitis”. I won’t go that far, but I did feel that this film seemed to be trying too hard to live up the standard set by the previous film. I really hate it when pictures do this. Each film is different, and they need to almost totally forget about what the previous film was like and make another just as good if not better.

The cast is great, headlined by Robert Downey, Jr., wo again seems like he was born to play Tony Stark. Aside from his typical snarky demeanor, Downey taps into the drama of the character of Tony Stark with the whole palladium poisoning angle (I belive this is a substitute for the alcoholism that Stark had in the comics, since Downey is a former alcoholic).

Gwyneth Paltrow was a shining star in Iron Man, but her character has lost some of the lustre here and she just seems to be going through the motions.

There was a lot of hype and controversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson being cast as Black Widow, especially since she seemed to have lost her delicious curves just for this role (yet they seem to have returned in the poster). I love Scarlett, but this was not the role for her. Like Paltrow, she came off as cold. Granted, her character is supposed to be a deadly assassin of some sort, but she does have a personality. That is the thing that Scarlett didn’t bring to the screen here. It’s all good to get in shape and do the stunts, but when it all comes down to it, you have to be able to deliver a good performance, which she does not.

Don Cheadle takes over the mantle of James Rhodes from Terrence Howard because of some money issues. This is a huge mistake. Cheadle is a great actor, but he makes Rhodes seem like the jealous little brother who gets his hand on big brother’s prize possession and runs off with it. His attitude throughout the whole picture, except the film’s climax, is that of a lifeless military brainwashed drone, totally forgetting that he and Stark are best friends. I think part of this has to do with how his character was written, but Howard just did so much the better job. On top of that, he just doesn’t scream James Rhodes or War Machine to me the way Terrance Howard seemed to just click. Not to mention, with his size, he seemed better suited to wear armor than Cheadle.

Getting to the villains, I have a beef to pick with the filmmakers for choosing Ivan Vanko. I don’t have anything against Ivan Vanko, but in the comics he is supposed to be one of the Crimson Dynamos. Whiplash is a totally different character, so I have to wonder what made them mix and match like this. I could probably overlook this, but this is a film made by Marvel. They are responsible for creating Iron Man, as well as many other major characters is comic lore. Mickey Rourke does a decent job with the character, but I was distracted with his leather-like looks, not to mention his accent didn’t quite seem to gel for me.

 Justin Hammer is a Stark’s rival in the comics, and Sam Rockwell brings him to life with the same energy and vigor that the character deserves. Aside from Downey, he gives the best performance of the film.

The fight scenes are incredible. It is obvious that Favreau has learned a little bit about directing these action sequences since the first film. Black Widow’s infiltration of Hammer’s compound and subsequent takedown of all his men is impressive, though I’m not sure if that’s because of her skills or because of the skin-tight catsuit she wears.

Adding War Machine to the lineup was great, but that’s enough with these multiple armor fight scenes. In the first film, it was ok to have Iron Man vs. Iron Monger, but here we get Iron Man vs. Mark II (soon to be made into War Machine), and Iron Man and War Machine vs Iron Man drones and Iron Man, War Machine vs. some kind of Iron Monger/Whiplash hybrid. While this was cool, I was disappointed with how the Whiplash fight ended so quickly, especially since he made such an impact with how he was introduced.

If they make a third Iron Man movie, the climactic battle needs to get away from these armor battles. It gets old quick.

Another aspect I didn’t care for was how there wasn’t enough Iron Man. About halfway through, we lose Iron Man and get some kind Tony Stark melodrama. sure it developed his character and all, but it wasn’t really all that necessary and could have just as easily been replaced with some better development for Ivan Vanko.

Speaking of Vanko, he was billed as the main antagonist of the film, yet except for his intro in the racetrack scene and the 10 seconds in the film’s climax, he doesn’t really do much except build stuff for Hammer. That is fine and dandy, but it’s not what you expect to see from this guy…at least I didn’t.

All the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff really has nothing to do with the plot of the film, except maybe the stuff related to his father and the palladium, so having sp much of it in here was kind of  waste of time. To further worsen things, they had some sort of unfinished Captain America shield that Stark uses when he makes the new element and Thor’s hammer appears at the end to the post-credits. The hammer I can deal with. It was handled subtly, but the shield, especially since Tony was looking for a new element and any good fanboy knows that Cap’s shield is made of some sort of indestructible metal. On top of that, it was just oddly placed in there.

Some sequels live up to or surpass their predecessors, others fall well below the expectations of the original. Iron Man 2 doesn’t totally falter, but at the same time it doesn’t make one forget the original. I think there are two things hurting this flick more than anything, expectations from the first film. If you will recall, Iron Man was being billed as the best film of 2008 and what superhero movies should be until everyone started wetting their pants at the overrated The Dark Knight, which overshadowed shellhead. My biggest complaints re lack of scenes with Iron Man and the lull in the middle that seems to derail the plot. I really liked this film, but not quite loved it. Still has some issues to fix before it ca be perfect. For a good summer flick, Iron Man 2 is a good start to the season, especially since it is in 2D and will probably dwarf almost every other film to be released this year (with the exception of Toy Story 3). It is definitely worth checking out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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11 Responses to “Iron Man 2”

  1. […] beautiful Emily Blunt left Iron Man 2 to make this. In hindsight, I have to wonder if she thinks that was a good decision. Blunt […]

  2. […] Cop Out 7. When in Rome 6. Jonah Hex 5. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief 4. Iron Man 2 3. Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World 1. The […]

  3. […] Iron Man 2 really so bad that Robert Downey, Jr. felt he had to go this far to get his fans […]

  4. […] all been made more than aware of how each if these Marvel Studio superhero flicks (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor) have been leading up to The Avengers film set to be released next […]

  5. […] all been made more than aware of how each if these Marvel Studio superhero flicks (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor) have been leading up to The Avengers film set to be released next […]

  6. […] not the script for her. I wonder if she’s regretting turning down the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, yet. I will say that she look very tasty all pushed up in that corset of her, as does the Queen, […]

  7. […] Mickey Rourke is a great villain here as Hyperion. The sheer sophisticated, sadistic cruelty he portrays is surely going to net him more roles like this. My only question is…why couldn’t he have been like this in Iron Man 2? […]

  8. […] Mickey Rourke is a great villain here as Hyperion. The sheer sophisticated, sadistic cruelty he portrays is surely going to net him more roles like this. My only question is…why couldn’t he have been like this in Iron Man 2? […]

  9. […] biased against this role for her, though, as I think this is what she turned down Black Widow in Iron Man 2 for, but don’t quote […]

  10. […] For those that don’t remember, before Jon Favreau directed big blockbusters like Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Cowboys & Aliens (which apparently was bad enough to have him contemplate quitting the […]

  11. […] the thought of her kicking butt and taking names had everyone, especially those fans of Lost, Iron Man 2. salivating. Well, i can officially say that does not disappoint. I was telling someone earlier that […]

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