Note: This review may contain spoilers.
So I was sitting around being unemployed, and I realized that it's times like this that a measure of a man is taken. It would be easy enough to simply wallow, to use my current circumstances to begin to shirk my responsibilities. Since the beginning of the recession, I have been providing opinions to the Piker Press for free distribution to the less fortunate who had no opinion of their own and little prospect of obtaining one. And yes, the recession has caught up with me. It is true that I can no longer afford the kinds of opinions to which I had become accustomed, but you know what? I wasn't raised with fancy-schmancy opinions. My parents were hard working, salt of the earth kind of people who did the best they could with what they had. As the youngest of three boys, I got most of my opinions handed down from my brothers. I didn't have an opinion of my very own until I was twelve and I saw Julie Andrews take her shirt off to reveal her bra in The Americanization of Emily. She was twenty nine, and I was twelve.
Damn it all to hell, I thought. People need opinions, and I decided that I should not let a little adversity keep me from doing what was right. So I grabbed Sand and hauled her to the movie theater where serendipitously it just so happened that Iron Man 2 was playing.
This story picks up six months after the end of the first movie and we are told that Tony Stark/Iron Man has single-handedly ushered in a pax ex machina through the use of Iron Man technology, the application of which he considers proprietary and is unwilling to share with anyone, not the government, and certainly not his competition Hammer Industries and its founder Justin Hammer, who is a bad guy and would like nothing more than to take military contracts away from Stark Industries and will stop at nothing to do that, even to the point of dealing with the maniacal, ill groomed bad mannered (but really smart) Ivan Vanko who is the son of the man who developed (with Tony's father) the arc reactor that paved the way for pax ex machina, but who got greedy and died in poverty in Russia, leaving his son blue prints that enables the son Ivan to build his own arc reactor and whip-like weapons that cut cars in two, but being poor was unable to afford a mask or a super villain identity and thus remained simply Ivan, the guy who attacked Tony Stark to avenge the wrongs perpetrated on the elder Stark only to fail, get arrested and then broken out of jail by Justin Hammer who wants to use him to defeat Stark who, incidentally is being ironically poisoned to death by the very arc reactor technology that is keeping him alive, a fact that he hasn't been able to share with his assistant/love interest Pepper Potts who in her unflagging devotion to Stark agrees to take over Stark Industries when her boss begins to get a little flakey while trying to deal with the pressures of being Iron Man and dying all at the same time, a flakiness that comes to the attention of Nick Fury after Tony goes on a bender and beats up his buddy Col. Rhodes who then absconds with one of the Iron Man suits from Tony's closet, and Fury presents Tony with old movies of Tony's dad in which Tony discovers that there is a way to stop being poisoned, something he needs to do quick because Ivan Vanko has just whipped up a bunch of Iron Man-like drones for Hammer, but is going to use them to kill Tony who must defeat him and save the world with the help of Pepper, Rhodes, Happy (his valet), and Natalie, Pepper's replacement who is also an undercover agent for Nick Fury whose name is Natasha Romanoff.
I'm not going to spoil it for you by telling you who wins, but I can say that one of the things that gets torn asunder by this movie is the usual solidarity that Sand and I have about the movies we've seen. I did not care for this one. It seemed to me that they sat down after the first movie and figured out what people liked about it, and then they concocted a story that used those elements ad nauseum. Did you like the playful bickering of Tony and Pepper in the last film? Great. Let's do loads of that and have everybody do it. Did you like that Iron Man had to battle a "evil iron man" in the first one? Okay. Let's do dozens of "evil iron men" in this one. Did you like the "selfish bad boy" image that Tony had in the first one? Great. Let's make him a really bad boy, a drunken reprobate that not even his very best friends like. Okay, now let's string these ideas together with a really thin plot.
There was no good acting by the principles in this one. Downey and Paltrow brought nothing new and seemed forced in their delivery. Sam Rockwell's portrayal of Justin Hammer was totally unbelievable. To make matters worse for me is that the bad guy Ivan Vanko was played by Mickey Rourke. No offense, Mr. Rourke, but I just can't stand you. Nothing personal, just one of those irrational "can't stand the sight of the guy" kind of things. Fortunately he was the bad guy, and that helped a little.
To give credit where credit is due, Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as Natalie/Natasha were the only bright spots in the movie. Both were very cool indeed, and the film would only have been helped if their roles had been expanded.
I liked the first Iron Man, and even though I know this was Iron Man too, I think unfortunately it was another case of the sequel not living up to the original.
This is the first time I ever saw a movie on the first day of its release. Part of the reason I haven't done such a thing before is that Hollywood is not a part of my seasonal rhythms. "Oh, is that out already?" or "Huh. Too bad I missed that" are both part of my movie appreciation repertoire. It was Bernie who counted down the days to the premiere of Iron Man 2, probably because he wanted to see if I would be as giddy a fool over Robert Downey, Jr.'s character Tony Stark as I was after seeing Iron Man.
Why yes, I was. The CGI was fantastic, and RDJ perfectly Tony Stark. Indeed, I actually liked Don Cheadle as "Rhodey" better than Terrence Howard. (Easier on the eyes, I guess ... )
The first few minutes of the film reveal the villains in this movie: Tony Stark's health, the misguided covetousness of the government, the greed of arms dealers, and the son of Howard Stark's (Tony's father) former partner. The son, Ivan Vanko, wants revenge; he wants to destroy Tony Stark for the injustice visited upon his father after Stark sacked him, and Dad Vanko was deported and shipped to Siberia.
Ivan Vanko (played by the homely ham Mickey Rourke) builds a machine based upon elder Stark/Vanko technology and tries to thrash and bash Tony Stark, who is acting like some kind of nutcase because he realizes he is going to die very soon and there is nothing he can do about it. Vanko is thwarted once, but finds himself allied with a sleazy arms dealer named Hammer, and rebuilds his revenge weapon, intent on destroying Stark and everything he has. Lots more blow 'em up scenes ensue.
Up front, I really enjoyed the movie, and if someone wanted to pay for my ticket, I'd go see it again. I liked the pacing of the entire movie far more than its predecessor. Yesterday we watched Iron Man on DVD as a preparation for today's sequel; I bowed out in favor of bedtime halfway through because the final battle was just a little tedious, and because Jeff Bridges' tongue-lolling portrayal of Obadiah Stane grosses me out more each time I see it. In time, I'll probably feel the same way about Mickey Rourke sticking his lips out like he was trying to be a collagen-injected super model, but not today.
P. S. Samuel L. Jackson makes a wonderful Nick Fury.