If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Alright, the opening summer flick known as "Iron Man 2". Now, I absolutely love the first movie and there's been a lot of hype for this one, so is it worth the wait? Read on to find out. The synopsis might be long but read it and you'll get a clear idea of the story, I promise it won't spoil anything.
It has been six months since Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has revealed his secret identity to the world which is a first for a superhero, since most of them do anything to protect their real identity. There are some factors that please Tony and others that just get on his nerves. On one hand, he's living the life. He's partying, attending many public events, showing off, and just having a blast with the world's attention on him. On the other hand, anybody other than the public is on his ass. Since he heads Stark Enterprises, the U.S military is coming for his armor so they can use it for their special forces represented by a Senator Stern (Garry Shandling). Meanwhile, Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Tony's best friend is trying to smooth things over with the military while at the same time try to persuade Tony to understand what the military is trying to offer, basically Rhodey is being "Mr. Compromise". Stark's long time rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is desperately trying to help the military so they can confiscate the armor, get promoted to work at the Pentagon, and eventually outdo Tony at his own game. During all this, "Pepper" Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is suspecting that Tony may be having alcohol problems and that Tony is acting a lot stranger than before and that's because palladium is causing Stark's arc reactor in his chest to slowly poison him which is killing him. Then, due to Tony's actions, a man named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) pops out of the shadows as Whiplash to get revenge on Tony for his father, Howard Stark cheating on Vanko's father over a deal that involved the early workings of the first arc reactor. Hammer helps break Vanko out of prison and they proceed to gang up on Tony. Still, Tony has gotten a new secretary Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who works for S.H.I.E.L.D, whose director is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who tries to persuade Stark to get on a new project called the "Avenger Initiative" which was mentioned in a post-credits scene in the first film. But, to help Stark in his desperate hours is Rhodey who will aid him in his struggles as War Machine.
Now, I know that you're probably thinking that that's a long fucking synopsis but that's because there are so many subplots in the movie that connect to the upcoming movies for "Thor" and "The Avengers", particularly for "The Avengers", there's even another nod to Captain America here. Now, if you haven't done your research or have any comic books in your life and have absolutely no knowledge of any superhero shit outside of the movies, basically The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor are all supposed to form a team called "The Avengers". It's kind of like the Justice League of America where you group up a number of prevalant superheroes and they go on missions and stuff like that. Now, Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D is pressing Tony Stark to join them to help get this "Avenger Initiative" thing going to help the government and S.H.I.E.L.D is basically more powerful than the United Nations in the Marvel universe. Meanwhile, if you saw "The Incredible Hulk", you would know that Edward Norton's character of Bruce Banner/The Hulk is still on the run as a fugitive because he doesn't want the government to misuse his powers. Now, Thor played by Chris Hemsworth in the upcoming movie, is supposed to be banished from the supernatural kingdom of Asgard by his father, Odin, King of the Gods, to live among the humans from disrupting an ancient treaty that his brother, Loki the god of trickery, set him up for. But, back in World War II, a man named Steve Rogers was injected with a Super Soldier Serum that made him the perfect soldier, Captain America to fight the Nazis. Eventually, at some point, Captain America's plane is shot down over London and freezes in the ocean. He is then awakened by the other Avengers and then becomes the leader of the team, and voilà, you have The Avengers. But, all of you know this.
But, enough explaining future movies, what did I think of this one? This movie was actually really, really good. Especially when it comes to sequels, now most people criticize it for having too many subplots but I didn't have a problem with it. An explanation might be because I've done research on the future Marvel movies and how they connect with one another and I know all the stuff that's supposed to happen with "Thor", "Captain America: The First Avenger", and "The Avengers" and I absolutely loved it. Still, when it comes to performances, everybody here is very, very good. There isn't a performance that I thought was being cashed in, sub-par, or terrible. People might complain that Scarlett Johansson doesn't have a Russian accent here and I learned from my drama and history teacher that if you can't do a specific accent well, you should probably consider sticking to your normal voice. Still, it didn't matter because Johansson played a very interesting version of Black Widow and a redhead Scarlett Johansson in a black leather suit kicking ass in mixed martial arts is just hot and awesome!
The villains played by Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke are so fucking cool in this flick, my only problem is that the villains don't go the extra mile in their ambitions and do something really just fucking evil so we can enjoy their eventual demise. That's what worked with The Joker, Hans Gruber, Hans Landa, and Mark Strong's character in "Kick-Ass", they pushed it too far and that made us love the scenes when they got beaten to shit. But, Rourke especially gives a really fantastic performance as a really bad Russian con-turned-supervillain, you forget Mickey Rourke's on the screen and you just assume he's a Russian ex-con and we know those are bad motherfuckers. Don Cheadle is so great as Rhodey that I actually prefer him to Terrence Howard in this role, like it's weird at first but you just buy him as Rhodey and he's just excellent. Tony Stark really has a great character arc here and it's very believable and organic. So, when it comes to cast and characters, I have few complaints and they fit really well where they are.
The visual effects like in the first film are fantastic and visually, it's just a pretty movie to look at. It oddly enough looks like a comic book in motion on the screen. Now, there's a famous Iron Man story called "Demon in a Bottle" that deals with Tony Stark battling alcoholism and it eventually gets to the point where Rhodey has to take over as War Machine. Now, it's apparently an extremely dark storyline and I guess while there are elements of the story in there, it's still very much in the same tone as the original which works pretty good in my opinion for a PG-13 level crowd. The film is really funny at times and like a comic book, the film is very fun to experience. They've also ramped up the action in this film and it exceeds the action in the first one and that says a lot since the first one had some damn good action scenes. Now, people say that the film drags near the middle but I didn't have a problem with the pacing and thought that the middle was a great chance to delve into Stark's growing problem that needed to be stopped like his alcoholism.
Now, the last battle scene with Ivan Vanko I thought should have been extended, it felt kind of rushed. The great thing about the final battle with Iron Monger at the end of the last one was that it was a pretty lengthy and awesome fight! I would have killed to have seen a five minute battle between Iron Man and War Machine against Ivan Vanko! Also, people have complained that it wasn't as fun as the original and I think that it's because the first movie was such a breath of fresh air when it came to superhero movies to people and that they feel confused with the multiple characters and storylines that they have to worry about what's going on. I didn't have that problem here, it's just as fun as the original and it actually expanded the world and continued the story which I preferred. It showed us that the world of "Iron Man" branches out further than this movie and I absolutely love that! Now, if you're going in expecting a "Dark Knight" or a "Demon in a Bottle" level story, you're going to be disappointed. Is this sequel on the level of "The Empire Strikes Back", "The Dark Knight", or "Terminator 2"? Not exactly but it's still a great sequel and continuation of the first film. A really great way to open up the summer, check it out! Oh, and stick around after the credits for a scene that hints at an upcoming Marvel movie, I thought it was awesome!
Rating: Full Price!!