Iron Man 2

Photo: Allmoviephoto.com
(RDJ's still the man...)

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke. Directed by Jon Favreau. 124 minutes. PG.

In real time, it's been two years since Tony Stark and his iron-powered suit blew audiences away with its uniquely sharp-tongued take on superhero-dom. In reel time, it's only been two minutes.

Iron Man 2 picks up right where we left our favourite business-man-turned-one-man-fighting-machine. He's just revealed that he is the man in the iron mask and is feeling pretty good about himself (shocking). He's beyond famous now. Kids are wearing Iron Man costumes. People are making pop art with his likeness. And the government wants to steal him away.

Senator Stern (Garry Shanding) calls him to court and claims that he's harnessing a weapon that should be turned over to the army. Tony isn't having any of it. He says, Iron Man is part of his body and therefore, surrendering it would be a legally acceptable form of prostitution. Awesome.

On the other side of the world (Russia to be exact), a burly bird-loving man (Mickey Rourke) has a similar goal. Ivan Vanko's been preparing his own iron suit with the help of his scientist dad's old designs (his papa worked with Stark Sr. back in the day) and wants to use it to destroy Mr. Man. Sadly, Ivan's not as intimidating as he should be. Sure, his electrical Doc Ock arms are freaky, but the dude walks towards his prey. Seriously.

In general, compared to the original, Iron Man 2 feels rather robotic. Director Jon Favreau technically does his job, providing us with some choice RDJ bickering and sweet machine action, but doesn't really bring anything new to the table. Well, other than a bunch of famous faces, most of which underwhelm.

Scarlett Johansson might as well be a set piece as Stark's new assistant (and soon to be Black Widow). She's nothing more than a visual presence, meant to excite fanboys and provide some odd sexual tension.
Rourke is a bit better. He's mighty creepy running around without a shirt on and a metal plate in his big mouth, but his acting is basically a caricature of Russian stereotypes.

The new star that actually works is Sam Rockwell, who plays Tony's other enemy, fellow industrialist Justin Hammer. He steals every scene he's in with his asshole 'tude. The scene where he shows off his bag of big guns, or rather, his case of overcompensation, is gold, especially when he brings out the one he calls "The Ex-Wife." The only thing off about him is his hands. They look like they've gone on a permanent man-tan vacation.

Thank Stan Lee, Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow are still perfect in their roles as business partners and lovers, Tony and Pepper. Unfortunately, they don't get enough scenes together. Their banter is what brings the Iron Man movie machine to life.

At one point, Pepper turns to Tony and says, "Not everyone runs on batteries." Maybe she should have a talk with Jon Favreau. C+

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