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Overall Rating
3.04

Awesome: 5.13%
Worth A Look: 26.92%
Average35.9%
Pretty Bad: 30.77%
Total Crap: 1.28%

8 reviews, 30 user ratings


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Iron Man 2
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by Erik Childress

"No Accident That 'You Complete Me' Is Not In The Final Cut"
3 stars

I saw the first Iron Man twice over the course of summer 2007, once at the press screening and a second time at the drive-in. Despite owning a place on my DVD shelves, I have not seen nor given much thought to the film since, remembering it as a slightly above average comic book script with a great central performance and two solid acts followed by a somewhat lackluster finale. Going back to my review I spent more time commenting on the casting of Robert Downey Jr. than the more traditional action-based expectations. Tony Stark was clearly deserving of another go-round and I was certainly looking forward to where he would progress. Turns out it is more of a lateral move into a sequel that accentuates the flaws of the first film and counters the theory that origin stories tend to be the weakest of a franchise.

Picking up a few moments before that origin tale ended, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is simultaneously watching his father die while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) announces to the world that he is Iron Man. With the dying words that it "should have been you", Vanko begins utilizing the technology founded by both their fathers to take his revenge. In the middle of his techno-expo, Stark is subpoened to appear before Congress who are anxious to get their hands on the Iron Man suit to expand their military prowess. Having achieved an uninterrupted world peace for the past six months, Stark sees no need in handing over his invention, which he equates as a package deal akin to prostitution anyway. His buddy, Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), tries to convince him on the grounds of easing the burden on himself as a global protector but to no avail.

Stark could certainly use the rest however since the paladium powering his artificial heart is shorting out faster than ever and introducing a fatal toxicity into his system. He withholds this info from his faithful girl Friday, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and takes to living his life as if it were a Nickelback song. Another Stark rival, fellow weapons manufacturer, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), meanwhile sees potential in Vanko crushing the competition and enlists him to rework his own Iron Man costumes. The agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) are also interested in Stark and have even placed gorgeous notary Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) within his offices to assess his usefulness. If that is a spoiler of some sort, you have clearly missed every trailer showing off Miss Johansson's flexibility in a leather outfit that would make Emma Peel envious.

Blaming the trailers for spoiling every single money shot of the film is not entirely fair since they can exist with a greater degree of excitement in the context of established moments. But in this case it really is every single money shot of the film that is practically passe before the Paramount logo can fully form. 2007's Iron Man was hardly one that could be labeled as action-packed, registering one major sequence per act and bridging them with Downey's entertaining performance and a well-turned arc on Stark's transition from destroyer to savior. Iron Man 2 gets it all backwards and sideways. Instead of upping the action quotient like most follow-ups feel an obligation towards, the grand total of set pieces remains the same with Favreau once again leading with his best one - a grand prix showdown between Stark and Vanko that is easily the sequel's highlight. From there things get decidedly less impressive, starting with an embarrassing mano-a-mano between a drunken Stark and the unfathomable choice to introduce Rhodes as War Machine in this moment, and concluding with a showdown (with our hero getting odds over his nemesis) that is over faster than you can say "don't cross the streams."

The power of a single Iron Man punch was more tingly a moment than most action films can produce in two full hours, but aside from the race track attack it just is not felt this time around. Favreau had improved on his skills of filming action the first time, but Iron Man 2 regresses him back to how it felt to watch him take on Zathura. His eye is there to set sequences up but not the gleam to perfect them leaving us a lot of down time to hopefully grasp onto the interaction between the colorful cast and whatever storyline is going to prairie dog its way into prevalance.

Downey is terrific again, usually providing the film with its best moments when he is out of the costume. Especially with Paltrow who falls back to their interplay like an old screwball couple. Of the many new additions to the Iron Man universe, only Sam Rockwell makes a serious impression in having fun with Hammer (including doing another trademark dance to the tune of Favreau's wink-wink to Swingers, "Pick Up The Pieces") No knock against Cheadle, but he only shows how underwritten Rhodey really is since apparently anyone can play him, especially when surrounded by metal and without the threat of Terrence Howard crying. Scarlett Johansson continues her descent into critical reality, quickly showing that without her appearance in some acclaimed works early in her career (Ghost World, Lost In Translation, Match Point) she would be Jessica Alba without the smile. Distracting us enough with her curves and cleavage, Johansson brings no distinctive personality to the fanboy fetish of Black Widow (which she is never officially called here) and its a wonder if the originally rumored Emily Blunt would have been similarly stifled in a meanderingly overstuffed narrative that seems to give up halfway through to remind viewers that their precious Avengers film may be coming sooner than they think.

The most egregious offense that Justin Theroux's screenplay makes though is reducing Stark's chief adversary to an absolute afterthought. Whatever could be lobbied at the first adventure for not having much of a villain until the final act, Iron Man 2 appears to correct that by introducing Vanko into the fray early on and slyly establishing him as the dark mirror image to Tony. The creation of a new weapon to vanquish his enemy and an escape from a foreign prison suggests the sequel might be headed into darker territory by taking on the perspective of our foreign counterparts oppressed and surpassed in the world by innovations they likely had a hand in as well. Instead, Theroux makes the same mistake made in Tim Burton's Batman Returns by making Vanko a secondary player while Justin Hammer becomes the Max Schreck svengali. Why do you make a play to get an actor like Rourke at the peak of his recent comeback and then lock him up to repair drones and type on a keyboard for the second half of the film? Hardly innovation for a film that argues against wasteful spending on hardware.

One of the fun things about the original Iron Man was that it's time spent away from the action was as good if not better than its pyrotechnics. Stark was (and still is) a great character that is as enjoyable to watch for his brain as much as his mouth. The latter is in no short supply here and is as much fun as his scenes with Nick Fury are lifeless. There are already, count 'em, three exposition scenes attempting to get to the beating heart of Vanko's past (complete with newspaper clippings) and each just repeats the last of the most basic "wronged" backstory. How many more preliminary introductions are we going to get to determining the final Avengers roster before we're going to concentrate on the story at hand? The worry that Favreau and Theroux have committed the most classic blunder of comic book films in trying to cram in as many iconic characters as quickly as possible is doubled over by their lack of concentration on the various themes that never have time to breathe and are discarded as they race towards the finish line. Iron Man 2 never suffers from pacing or a been-there quality to Downey's performance. Watching those step into Stark's iron footsteps and able to master the controls of his suits on their maiden runs, the makers appear to have forgotten that even the creator learned to walk before he could fly. And here someone rested on more than just the seventh day.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=19928&reviewer=198
originally posted: 05/06/10 23:44:38
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User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell dull dissapointing sequel 1 stars
3/29/16 Aj wales Underated but not a gem though. Ok. 3 stars
10/02/14 Horror Lover An oversaturated mess. 2 stars
9/02/14 Jeff Worst Marvel movie 2 stars
4/07/13 Charles Tatum Vastly entertaining, don't understand the hate! 4 stars
11/19/12 Sean Harrison Probably the weakest of the Marvel cinematic universe. 3 stars
10/19/11 Magic A movie that tries to bite off more than it can chew. RDJ saves this movie, barely. 3 stars
5/26/11 Glenn Laurence Hardy Junior i thought it was worth a look....... friend me on facebook! (my pic. is sonic) 4 stars
1/22/11 Jeff Wilder Fun overall. But overstuffed. 4 stars
12/22/10 Sean M Favreau and theroux bit off way more than they can chew. RDJ and Mick should've been epic. 3 stars
12/12/10 terri The movie should have focused more on the villains and not the Avenger crap. 2 stars
12/01/10 Simon Verhoeven This critic has no clue whatsoever about the process of writing and filmmaking. Great movie 5 stars
10/05/10 action movie fan tony stark is great but this movie seem like a viedo game-the action particularly 3 stars
8/07/10 naewar Not the first one, but still a great movie. 4 stars
6/22/10 Ken Kastenhuber AIS decent sequel, not enogh substance, but decent popcorn fare. 4 stars
6/09/10 Eric Olsen First was substantially better, more action, more exploration. 3 stars
6/08/10 Jack Frost David Cornelius -- paralysis by analysis. Watch it before it leaves the big screen. 5 stars
5/29/10 Koitus Very disappointed; loved IM1. Only 1 decent-length action scene?!? Wait for the DVD... 3 stars
5/21/10 Man Out 6 Bucks Downey just riding the crest of a wave. Most non-Angelinos don't get it. 4 stars
5/17/10 mr.mike Feels more like Iron Man 5 , stale and lacking action. 2 stars
5/13/10 damalc nothing special; not nearly enough action for a superhero movie 3 stars
5/12/10 KingNeutron Some of the CGI was sloppy, but overall a quite enjoyable summer action movie. 4 stars
5/11/10 g. maybe not quite as good as the first, but still a good time. 4 stars
5/10/10 Abs it's a meh movie...lacked the consistent humor that made IM1 great 3 stars
5/09/10 Flounder An ENORMOUS disappointment. Dull, vacuous and pointless. I'm shocked. 2 stars
5/09/10 Dan Great for what it was meant to be-an installment in an overarching Avengers storyline 5 stars
5/09/10 JC Pierce I liked it 3 stars
5/08/10 PAUL SHORTT FUN ACTION-PACKED SEQUEL WITH GOOD PERFORMANCES 4 stars
5/08/10 "Big Brother" visually stunning (as expected) but ultimately flat & empty; Cheadle lacked T.H.'s charisma 2 stars
5/08/10 Darkstar Awesome! Much better than the first one. Stay till after the credits for a surprise! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-May-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Sep-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  07-May-2010
  DVD: 28-Sep-2010



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