Director: Jon Favreau
Robert Downey, Jr.
Iron Man battles industrial competition, his own inner demons, and a villainous Russian using Stark technology.
Robert Downey, Jr. returns as Tony Stark giving another terrific performance of what may be his best character. Not only did he make Stark completely his own, but this is arguably the role that made him a star (again). Not only does Tony Stark have competition in the film, but Downey also does with Sam Rockwell joining the cast. Rockwell plays weapons specialist Justin Hammer, Stark’s rival, and is funny, realistic, and tragic all at once. Before Robert Downey, Jr. got the role of Stark, Rockwell was actually the lead candidate for the role.
The smartest thing about “Iron Man 2” is that it keeps its characters grounded in a reality. Stark’s villains have clear and realistic reasons for hating them the way they do, both Rockwell and Rourke’s characters are motivated by their hate to fight back at Stark/Iron Man. This was something that was clearly missing from the “Spider-Man” films, apart from James Franco’s character, the villains had no motivation, they had simply just gone insane. This fact makes the “Iron Man” films more realistic and different from the other superhero films we are used to.
The cast here is all around terrific, with Paltrow and Downey returning to their roles in top form. Added to the cast is Don Cheadle (replacing Terrence Howard), Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Mickey Rourke. Cheadle is good but doesn’t make a lasting impression like the rest of the cast. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are the real stars of the film apart from Downey. Johansson is just a joy to look at and has some great fight scenes, Rockwell is fantastic, and Rourke is deliciously weird.
I had a lot of fun with this film, but have to say that I enjoyed the first film better. While the acting and dialogue here is more top notch, the film just doesn’t have the fun pace of the first. There are some brief subplots that do not belong in this storyline, such as a brief allusion to Tony Stark’s alcohol problem (a scene that goes on much too long). The film is supposed to be very fun-filled, but it lacks a sense of danger. With Iron Man seeming to be invincible, the only time we feel he is in danger is his first run-in with Rourke’s character on the race track, the best scene in the film. With Iron Man being unstoppable (especially when paired with War Machine), the action scenes lack any sort of tension, even though they are pretty cool.
Overall, the film is fun but ultimately forgettable. It lack’s Downey’s knack for ad-libbing 90% of his lines and the pacing is off. It’s a good time at the movies, but it does not make the impression that the first one did. See it simply to have a reason to look at Scarlett Johansson for two hours, and the addition of Sam Rockwell.
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Runtime: 124 minutes