REVIEW: ‘Iron Man 2’

Jon Favreau
Robert Downey Jr.
Don Cheadle
Scarlett Johansson
Gwyneth Paltrow
Sam Rockwell
Mickey Rourke
Samuel L. Jackson
Rated: PG-13

Iron Man has finally returned, but did this film live up to its original.

The movie takes place after some time has past since Tony Stark revealed to the world that he’s the hero Iron Man. In light of this, Stark holds a large expo to not only tout his technology, but also inspire other scientific achievements.

However, problems for the metal clad protagonist start to mount quickly. A new villain named Whiplash (Rourke) with a vendetta against Stark’s family teams up with a rival technology CEO, Justin Hammer (Rockwell) to eliminate Iron Man. Additionally, Stark is suffering from a new disease caused by his arc reactor in his chest and he’s unsure of what to do. Plus, the government begins to distrust Tony.

All of these problems for Tony lead to an overall issue with the film. The picture as a whole simply bites off way more than it can chew.

In total, this movie tries to explore the villain Whiplash, provide a new rival with Hammer, delve into Tony’s relationship with his assistant Pepper Potts, answer the questions about the government response, open the door for Tony’s friend Rhodes to become War Machine, further set up the Avengers film coming in two years and to top it all off, somewhat get into Tony’s alcoholism that was featured in the comics.

This leads to a film that feels convoluted, disjointed and simply too long. Some of the scenes here should have just been cut out while others needed much more development. For example, the movie tries to explore Tony getting drunk, but doesn’t go far enough with it. There’s also the issue of the villain not having enough screen time to have an effectiveness on Stark.

With all that said, though, Director Favreau was at the very least able to make a picture that was coherent and in fairness, he did tell an overarching story that had a beginning, middle and end. While the movie does have too much going on, it is a watchable picture.

The real strength of the film comes from the performances. Like the first, Downey Jr. is a natural as Stark. He manages to once again display the arrogance and ego as a way to hide his character’s deeper problems that he’s facing.

Likewise, Paltrow was solid as Pepper, playing Tony’s love interest who’s able to match his attitude with her continuous skepticism at his antics. The two share a solid chemistry making their relationship feel natural.

A question mark coming in was Don Cheadle who was replacing Terrance Howard as James Rhodes. Cheadle not only plays the character well, he actually succeeds Howard. Cheadle captures the seriousness of his character’s military background while also bringing a swagger to the screen and portraying a loyal friend to Tony.

I was also a fan of Rourke’s portrayal as Whiplash, as his character’s anger toward Stark is very believable. The biggest problem is that Rourke didn’t get the screentime his character really deserved. This is partially because he had to share the screen with Rockwell, who played his part a bit too over the top.

An area where I find some conflict is Johansson and Jackson as Black Widow and Nick Fury. Both are solid in these roles, but as previously mentioned, there presence seemed more shoved in as a set up for the upcoming “Avengers” film.

The movie could have used some more action overall, but when the battles were on screen, they were fantastic. Watching Iron Man and War Machine battle against the antagonists was exciting and showed off what their suits can do. The issue is that there simply wasn’t enough.

“Iron Man 2” had too much going on in its story telling and could have been more streamlined. Plus, the action could have gone on longer. However, the acting is strong enough in most departments and there is enough structure in the story to warrant a 3 out of 5, albeit a low one.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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