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IRON MAN 2 Review Written by Brad Bolton
With an upcoming summer season that is relatively light on pure popcorn action movies (compared to previous years) it's no wonder that Iron Man 2 would be on everyone's radar, not the least of which is due to it's box office smash of a predecessor (which marked the debut of Marvel Studios). The film is a delightful and entertaining ride however, it carries over many of the same problems from the first and even manages to create more problems for the man in the iron suit.
It's 6 months after the first film and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) isn't doing so hot anymore. The US government wants him to hand over the suit out of distrust. The military wants the suit for its weapons, and the very thing that has kept Tony alive (arc welder implanted in his chest) is now ironically killing him by poisoning his blood with Palladium. What's Palladium? I'm not really sure, nor does the movie really explain what it is or why it's only now affecting Tony. Regardless the blood poisoning is one of the largest subplots in the entire movie, with Tony checking his blood periodically throughout and becoming disoriented as his time ticks down.
The lead antagonist is Ivan Vanko/ Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) a physicist whose father dies in the opening scene of the movie. His father apparently worked with Tony's father but was deported to Russia after some disagreements that are very quickly mentioned much too late in the movie. The death is the only motivating factor of Rourke's character but happens far too early for any of the viewers to sympathize with. So while the character feels despair and anguish, the audience feels nothing as they hold no connection.
The other antagonist is Justin Hammer (Rockwell) a weasel of a CEO of a weapons manufacture who is played well but becomes overly annoying throughout the movie, because he never. shuts. the. fuck. up! His one goal is to create power suits identical to Iron Man. He's not very well developed and is your standard cliched businessman whose only out for himself and is incredibly incompetent despite managing a mutli-million dollar corporation.
Tony is brought in to speak to the Senate who strongly request Stark to hand over the Iron Man suit. This is where Rhodes/ Warmachine (Don Cheadle) enters to give his report. Rhodes is played very well, something that made me afraid given the departure of Howard from the first film. Unfortunately he doesn't appear often enough in the movie, and it's a shame.
We are also introduced to Natalie Rushman/ Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative who assists Tony and Pepper Potts. She doesn't do a whole lot or have much purpose other than to look sexy and be a bad ass.
Despite Tony's blood poisoning he still finds time to go on vacation where he participates in a Formula 1 race in Monaco. This is where he is attacked by Whiplash who nonchalantly walks onto the race track without so much as a harsh word from security.
I could question how his harness emits heat so harsh that it burns off his shirt and yet leaves his skin completely unscathed but I'm too busy looking at his impressive collection of tattoos.
The fight between Whiplash and Iron Man is well done and intense, but it ends quickly, making Whiplash come off as less of a threat than he is presented as in the trailer. A fact that will return at the end of the movie.
Vanko is arrested but is broken out by Rockwell's character who wishes to use him to help build is robot army for the military. Vanko agrees but instead alters the suits to be as unmanned drones.
Tony, knowing that his death is around the corner becomes deeply inebriated at his own birthday party while wearing the suit. He becomes dangerous, leaving Cheadle no choice but to steal the older Iron Man suit from the first movie to take Tony down.
With Tony defeated and the old suit stolen by Rhodes (to be converted to the Warmachine suit). It's up to Nick Fury (Sam L. Jackson) to get Stark back into shape. This is when Fury leaves a hint as to how Tony can fix his current crises regarding the blood poisoning.
From here on, the movie gets weird, from what I can tell Stark is inspired by a model city made by his father which gives Tony the idea to create a completely different element that can sustain and heal him from the Palladium poisoning. How he does this is never made clear, just that he builds a large arc reactor that emits a red beam onto a piece of metal to create the perfect example of Deus-Ex-Machina. It's triangular in shape and looks like this.
Confused? Don't worry, we all are.
At the end of the movie Hammer presents the new robots made by Vanko. He shows the four different groups of robots for the military: Army, Navy, Air force, and Marines. Once again, the Coast Guard gets the shaft when it comes to importance in movies.
There is a reason why the Pentagon has five sides, y'know?
At the head of this presentation, Warmachine appears in his fully upgraded weapons system, complete with a mini gun, which in no way compensates for anything! However, Vanko takes control of the drones and attacks Iron Man controlling Warmachine as well. This leads to an exciting game of follow the leader as the drones give chase to Iron Man all over the city. At the same time Black Widow infiltrates the Lab for Hammer Industries to get Vanko. She does this by flailing her legs around as much as possible and kicking so much ass that all the men in the theater may have shifted in their seats wishing they had a tube sock.
Unfortunately Vanko has escaped and has commandeered a special suit for himself to fight Iron Man and Warmachine. Once the two had finish off the drones, they fight off the new upgraded Rourke.
Now if you thought the final battle in the first Iron Man was anti-climactic then you'll be surprised that this battle is nothing like that.
It is far more anti-climactic as the battle lasts for only a minute. and doesn't even give Rourke a fair send off, only ripping off the end to Predator, with the bad guy laughing manically to boot.
With Vanko dead, and Hammer arrested, Warmachine blasts off, saying that he will return and Stark meets with Fury to discuss his role in the Avengers. I find this whole Avengers thing maddening, why all the build up for something we know nothing about and is completely un-proven. There's not even a trailer and yet Marvel keeps shoveling it into all of their movies. It already ruined the ending to The Incredible Hulk and now it's taking control of entire subplots in this movie. I'm just saying that setting yourself up like this is only going to make the fall so much bigger if it fails. You don't need to do this to advertise something that is barely in pre-production. I fear that Marvel is grossly overestimating the success and popularity of an Avengers movie, and I hope they don't get too crazy leading up to the release.
But anyway, Iron Man 2, it's an enjoyable movie and despite it's missteps with it's subplots and character development, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys some good action. But it's not as creative or entertaining as the first film but that's more of a staple of Iron Man himself than the movie. Super hero origin stories are always more interesting than the heroes themselves' most of the time at least. Iron Man 2 is no different, but you'll at least come out entertained.