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Movie Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Yep, this is definitely an Iron Man movie.

Basically, my review will boil down to this: If you like the first Iron Man, go see this. If you didn’t like the first Iron Man, you will hate this. If you’re one of the 16 people who hasn’t seen the first one, go see it before watching this.

This is a sequel for a superhero movie, so of course they had to add in many new characters. These were a little bit of a mixed bag (keep in mind that I don’t really read comic books, so they might’ve really botched the comic book-to-film translation for some of these guys without me noticing it).

First and foremost, I think Sam Rockwell is one of the best and most underappreciated actors in Hollywood.  He pretty much plays a jealous competitor who will do whatever it takes to take down Tony Stark, and Sam Rockwell brings a certain kind of charisma to the role that really worked for me. This isn’t his best role, but hopefully this will be the one that Hollywood really takes notice of so he’ll be cast in more films in the future.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Whiplash, played by Mickey Rourke. It seemed like they tried to make him as weird as possible, but whenever he was on-screen by himself I still thought he was boring. Even when he shared the screen with Robert Downey Jr it wasn’t all that interesting. However, every time he was on-screen with Sam Rockwell it really owned. Rockwell basically plays the uptight businessman while Rourke plays the mad scientist — these two had a really unique relationship with each other and Justin Hammer (Rockwell) was basically the only thing that made Whiplash interesting at all.

The other big additions to the cast were Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as pointless. Apparently Nick Fury isn’t even an addition, but I don’t remember him at all from the first movie so I’m pretty sure he had a bigger role here. He has some pretty funny one-liners, but really his main purpose was to help build hype for the upcoming Avengers movie. If they took out Scarlett Johansson’s character, I’m not sure the movie would have lost anything other than some pretty funny one-liners by Robert Downey Jr…Don Cheadle also replaced Terrence Howard in this movie. He does fine.

Despite the fact that so far I’ve done nothing but praise Sam Rockwell, the real star here is still Robert Downey Jr. I don’t even want to think about what the Iron Man franchise would be without him. He plays an arrogant Tony Stark perfectly.

Notice that I talked about the characters before anything else — and that’s because this movie really is about the characters moreso than the plot. Tony Stark pisses off almost everybody and has to redeem himself by the end. This is more about him “overcoming his demons” and getting himself better than it is about fighting Whiplash. There’s still a lot of action here and enough stuff happens to keep people interested — but for a superhero movie, there’s an awful lot of talking going on. Since Downey and Rockwell are both great, I have no problems with that. The film is paced very well so I was never thinking “come on, get on with it already”.

Iron Man 2 is not a movie that is going to be in many “favorite movie of all-time” lists. It probably won’t even be in many “Best of 2010” lists (and if it is, that means the rest of the year is really bad). Still though, this is a fine superhero movie that is at least on the same level as the original. 8.5/10

Terrence Howard

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