Saturday, 11 August 2012

FILM: Iron Man 2 (6/10)

Robert Downey's Iron Man returns after his first film outing two years previous, with director Jon Favreau again at the helm. As with Iron Man, Favreau delivers another fun ride and allows Downey to steal the show as Tony Stark.

Downey's egotist, smarmy and arrogant but ultimately likeable Tony Stark is the film. Other characters are purely used for Downey to show off in front of, flirt with or talk over. In honesty, this becomes a little frustrating by the end of the film but it doesn't become a terminal problem because of the hidden weakness and humility Stark shows on occasions. Also, it makes a change for a superhero to be so public with his identity and arrogance.

Facing pressure from the US government on one side and the film's nemesis Whiplash on the other, Stark also struggles to cope with the ill effects of his power source and becomes isolated and irresponsible with his powers. The main antagonist is Whiplash, the son of a Russian inventor formerly employed by Stark Industries, who out of spite for the Stark family develops his own power source to rival Iron Man. The Russian factor brings about inevitably thin Cold War references but it is the idea that the US government sees Iron Man ans his technology as their property and does not wish to be dependent on Stark's alliance for protection that is the strongest plot string.

When given scenes without Downey present, the supporting characters are a mixed bunch. The introduction of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow to the Marvel Universe is flat and the same can be said for Gywneth Paltrow, who is talked over by Downey for all of her lines. Don Cheadle plays Iron Man's sidekick James Rhodes (aka War Machine) complete with some Robin-esque cheesy lines ("Get a roof"). The positives come in the form of Mickey Rourke as Whiplash and Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. Rockwell injects some brilliant humour to proceedings for when you've had your fill of Downey.

The action is evenly paced, although the action sequences towards the end of the film are a little robotic, literally, as Iron Man and War Machine take on Whiplash (in a similar suit) and his army of Iron Man suited drones.

Overall, perhaps not as fresh as the original but still a better than average entry to the Marvel catalogue.

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