May 7, 2010 Iron Man 2
Studio: Paramount Pictures Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) seemingly has the world by the tail.
Just six months after admitting on live television that he is the superhero Iron Man, things seem to be going well.
The American people love his costumed creation and his mere presence has brought about peace all over the world.
But that's on the surface.
Underneath the glitter, the very device that's keeping Stark alive is slowly poisoning his blood. The U.S. Government wants to get its hands on his armor and a Russian seeks to destroy him by creating his own Stark-inspired weapon to do the job.
Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is the son of a man who worked with Stark's father. But feeling his family was betrayed, Vanko becomes the villain Whiplash. He confronts Stark on the streets of Monaco. The billionaire industrialist barely manages to defeat his foe by using a portable version of his Iron Man armor.
But Vanko isn't finished. He soon teams up with Stark rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to complete his mission of vengeance.
Like the first "Iron Man" movie, this is a rousing superhero flick. But to say that this is the movie's main attraction cheats the actors out of their just due.
Downey is perfect as Stark. It would be very easy to slip into caricature, but underneath his flippant remarks is a man dealing with his own mortality.
Stark isn't perfect. He makes mistakes. Thankfully, he is given the chance to get it right...and he does.
Don Cheadle is a new addition to the cast. He takes over the role of Lt. Col. Jim Rhodes from the departed Terrence Howard. As the story moves forward Rhodes dons his own suit of armor, delivers it to the military and becomes the armored adventurer War Machine.
Cheadle does a fine job portraying his disgust with Stark's erratic path, but he is loyal enough to allow his friend to redeem himself.
On the business side of the ledger Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets a promotion. When Stark is too busy with his heroic adventures, he elevates her to the position of CEO Stark Industries. Potts soon finds herself overwhelmed by the problems landing in her lap.
With Potts moving up the corporate ladder, Tony needs a new assistant. Enter Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson), woman who is extremely capable...but also much more than meets the eye.
There is plenty to like about "Iron Man 2." Comic fans get a number of inside jokes, but you don't have to be a fanboy to enjoy the film.
In the first movie, Stark grew up. His journey takes its next logical step in this chapter.
On my rating scale, "Iron Man 2" earns a home run.
And stick around for a special surprise scene which airs after the credits.
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