The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Iron Man 2

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The 2008 blockbuster film Iron Man had everything going for it; a great cast and compelling storyline with just the right amount of action, CGI effects, and humor. The follow up, simply titled Iron Man 2 boasts a star studded cast led by returning stars Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. Yet they couldn't save the film from being a major disappointment. In my opinion Iron Man has gone from polished and shiny to rusty and dull.

For those unfamiliar with the Marvel comic's character from which Iron Man is based, there is no back story so such audiences who have not seen the original film are forced to go with the flow. The sequel opens up six months after billionaire weapons tycoon, the arrogant and narcisstic Tony Stark (Downey) revealed to the world that he is Iron Man and through the use of his alter ego's superhero powers claims to “have privatized world peace”.

Though Stark basks in the limelight enjoying the recognition and adoration of fans, there are personal as well as outside forces that threaten to destroy him. Stark is slowly dying as the result of toxins poisoning his blood from the atomic device planted in his chest to keep him alive and power his Iron Man suit and he must discover another powerful element to replace it before it is too late. Secondly, the U.S. Military wants to seize Stark's Iron Man suit and technology and keep it all to themselves. If that isn't enough to contend with, Ivan Vanko, the brilliant, but psycho son of a Russian physicist has surfaced and is vent on killing Stark to get even for the technology Stark's father long ago stole from Vanko's deceased dad.

Mickey Rourke (who re-ignited his career with an Oscar nominated performance as The Wrestler in 2008) is on board as the heavily tattooed, dread locked villian out for vengeance. The charismatic Rourke, in delicious, smoldering evil mode as Vanko, is the best thing about this sequel, but unfortunately, doesn't get enough screen time and is wasted. The film's one stand out action sequence takes place at the Monaco Grand Prix. Somehow, Vanko knows that Stark is competing in the race. Eager to wreck havoc and do him in, Vanko makes a grand entrance on the track wielding his own weapon of enormous, destructive power; whips that shoot bolts of electricity capable of slicing a car in half. Suffice to say, after a death defying battle between the two and Iron Man as the victor, Vanko winds up in jail, only to escape with the help of Stark's rival, weapons manufacturer, Justin Hammer (an overly “hammy” performance by Sam Rockwell) who wants Vanko to build a bigger and better advanced weapons system- an army of “Hammer Drones” to replace Iron Man. Of course, Hammer has no idea what Vanko has up his sleeve to meet his own agenda.

Gwyneth Platrow is back as Stark's devoted secretary/assistant and potential love interest, the smart, pretty, and proper Pepper Potts whom he promotes to CEO of Stark Industries. But instead of their usual charming and humorous back and forth banter, this time around their interactions mostly involve arguments. Enter a new character, multilingual Natalie Rushman (a dark haired Scarlett Johansson) supposedly from “legal” who fills in as Stark's new secretary, but is more than she appears, as we soon learn.

Don Cheadle (replacing Terrence Howard) is Stark's friend, military liason Lt. James Rhodes, aka Rhodey, whose loyalty is torn between the military and his pal. A face off comes when Rhodey, armored up as the robotic War Machine, engages in a fight with a depressed and drunk Iron Man that nearly destroys Stark's ocean front Malibu mansion. The scene is downright over the top, ridiculous and without merit.

Samuel L. Jackson makes a brief appearance as the mysterious Nick Fury, leader of a shadow group of superheroes known as the Avengers. For this film, his presence serves as a hint of what's to come.

Iron Man 2, doesn't quite make the grade as a dynamic sequel. It doesn't live up to the hype although I am sure it will be hit at the box office due to millions of comic book fans that has been anxiously waiting for the film's release.

Director Jon Favreau once again is at the helm, this time working from an uneven, messy script by Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder) and he does a shoddy job. Iron Man 2 isn't as much fun as the first, offering nothing fresh and original. With too many adversaries and not one central villain, the story and plot is unfocused and scattered.

At the end, during the obligatory big fight scene between villain and hero, we expect Vanko, with all the resources of the military at his disposal, to come up with a super duper weapon suit to defeat Iron Man. But, the new armor does absolutely nothing different or remarkable than his earlier crude version and the big fight scene which amounts to about a minute long, is over in a flash. The ending is anti climatic and a huge dud.

Iron Man 2 hardly gets off the ground before it crashes in a junkyard of disposable robots, characters, plot lines, and sappy dialogue. Hopefully, if the next episode of Iron Man is delivered by another director and writer, it will be powered up with more energy, just one of the many elements it needs to stay alive.

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