IRON MAN 2 is a fun ride despite too many characters to follow

Oscar-nominee Robert Downey, Jr. returns as eccentric billionaire/superhero Tony Stark and he faces his inner-demon and new villains in the sequel to one of 2008’s biggest blockbuster, Iron Man 2.
Six months after Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) reveals to the world that he IS Iron Man, he becomes even more famous then he was before, but he is put on the spot when Congress pressures him to turn in his suit to the military. His main competition Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) wants to Stark’s Iron Man designs in order to make his own design of the suit. Hammer manages to enlist the help of Ivan Venko (Mickey Rourke), a former Russian physicist-turned-criminal, to create Iron Man clones sans man in a suit. However, Venko seeks revenge against Stark when his father (John Slattery) deported Venko’s father to Russia several years ago. His friend, Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is stuck between sticking with his best friend and following his superiors’ orders to take one of Starks’ suits. Starks’ new assistant Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) is causing friction between him and former assistant, Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow).
As you can tell from my summary of the film’s synopsis, there is a lot going in Iron Man 2 as it seems Tony Stark have a bigger problems to deal with. However, one of the weakness’ of Iron Man 2 is that it is trying too hard to squeeze as many sub-plots into the sequel, which become very muddled when it comes to trying to keep in track of what is going on. Another weakness that Iron Man 2 has it has too many characters condensed in a two hour film, which was one of many problems that another Marvel-made movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, suffered from. This movie is more of a transitional movie for the upcoming Avengers film as the film foreshadows the Avengers film by including familiar items from Captain American and Thor that would make a fan of the Marvel Universe giddy like a little schoolgirl.
Do not get me wrong, Iron Man 2 is an entertaining ride and the movie really delivers in the action department. The two action scenes that stand out in the film includes Stark fighting Venkoa on a race track in Monaco and an all-out war that takes place in the last half hour of the film that includes a showdown with Iron Man and War Machine taking on several of Venko/Hammer’s Iron Man drones. The special effects by Industrial Light and Magic is tremendous eye candy as it complements the action sequences in the film including a scene in where Stark changes into his Iron Man suit via a portable suitcase.
Robert Downey, Jr. delivers another great performance as Tony Stark as he struggles with the big target on his back, while is struggling with his own mortality as the arc reactor in his chest that s keeping him alive is also poisoning him. Downey really delves deep into the dark side as with Death looming over him with each day that comes, Stark develops increasingly bizarre behavior that includes drunkenly displaying himself in his Iron Man suit at his own birthday party. Another great performance in the film is from Sam Rockwell (Moon, Choke) as the perfect counterpoint to Downey’s Stark, Justin Hammer. Hammer also reminds Stark on what Stark could have been without his moment of clarity in the first film. The character of Pepper Pots and Lt. Col. James Rhodes are fleshed out further in the sequel as Paltrow is given more to do when Starks appoints Pepper as CEO of Stark Industries and Cheadle takes over the role from his previous predecessor Terrance Howard as Starks’ friend who finally becomes War Machine by teaming up with Stark to kick some ass and take names.
Iron Man 2 delivers with great action scenes, outstanding special effects and another great performance from Downey. However, the sub-plots and the mish mash of characters in the film keeps this movie from being superior to the first film.

IRON MAN 2: 4 out of 5 stars

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