Iron Man 2
When I said ‘wear protection’, this isn’t what I meant.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/07/2010
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Stan Lee
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Runtime: 2 hours, 4 minutes

Golden Mug2010 Golden Mug

Best Sound


All Hail Me!

The yearly cycle of critic proof films has arrived, with the first salvo being launched by a high tech suit of armor encased around America’s favorite alcoholic narcissist in “Iron Man 2″. (And for once, a big budget special effects film isn’t relying on the draw of 3D to push its ticket sales through the roof … regardless of how poorly that extra dimension works, or was executed, in the context of the project).

This time around, a rival weapons manufacturer (Sam Rockwell) enables an ill-tempered Russian with a vendetta (Mickey Rourke) to go toe to toe with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his de facto sidekick (Don Cheadle). Along the way, we get introduced to another Marvel Universe character, The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and if you stick around until the end of the credits, an even higher profile character gets their first feature film tease (and I do mean ‘tease’).

My major complaints with the first film revolved around a villain that was anything but scary (no matter how much I love The Dude) and a severe dearth of action. To address the first issue, enter the perfectly cast Rockwell as a fame seeking, self-obsessed foil to Downey and then bring in Rourke as the muscle.

The overwhelming desire to keep this franchise PG-13 safe and on the brighter side of things keeps Rourke from becoming a villain anywhere near the scale of Heath Ledger’s Joker but that’s to be expected. Sadly, as far as villains go, Jason Patric does a much better job in “The Losers” than Rockwell and Rourke combined; but again, the intentions of the filmmakers to be family friendly go a long way here.

Now to the action, which definitely gets an upgrade. Although there aren’t technically any more “action” scenes (unless you count Johansson’s stunt double taking out thugs in a hallway), they are better paced and much more aggressive than in the first film. Whatever CGI updates were made in the last few years, combined with the excellent sound design, it streamlined the robotic suits and made for a fun addition to the quip laden script.

All of the actors earn their paychecks and, of course, Downey’s portrayal of an alcoholic playboy is practically worth the admission price on its own. Still, don’t expect any of the depth of story one might find in a Christopher Nolan helmed feature. This is meant to fit nicely within the framework of the other Marvel Universe films and fans of its ilk will be more than satiated.

While it’s improbable one would think of seeing this without already having seen the first film, “Iron Man 2″ does stand on its own (aside from some basic character dynamics and knowing who Sam Jackson’s character is) and earns a 3.5 out of 5. Although it doesn’t necessarily have any more action than the first, the quality of the fights is better and bottom line – it’s fun.

I’m still a bit baffled why they would pay for the use of the iconic Black Sabbath song “Iron Man” in the trailer but refrain from using it anywhere in the feature (it’s not even stuffed into the credits somewhere) but I’ve learned not to let these types of questions rattle around in my head too long for fear of aneurysm. And in any case, let popcorn flick season begin.

3.5 out of 5