What a boring movie.
I mean, I feel a little weird saying that, because I think there is more of the action I was saying was missing from the original Iron Man. But man, is the story just so un-involving.
The premise is that Tony Stark is dying of palladium poisoning from the very device that is keeping him alive. Admittedly poetic, but it’s resolved by just creating a new element. No personal growth is there to be had. No interesting dilemmas arise. Little to no drama ensues. It’s tied a bit to Stark’s relationship with his father, but in a way that is half-baked and not substantial enough to make us care.
There’s other stuff that happens, but nothing that seems worth bringing up since the presence of a cohesive story is achingly absent. What was the point of Tony creating a new element? What was the point of Tony fighting a new villain? I want to know. Why did we watch all this?
Without being able to answer these questions, Iron Man 2 primarily survives off of its humor. The dialogue is still sharp in this one, staying true to Tony’s eccentric tendencies while further establishing the unique love-hate relationship between him and CEO-appointed Pepper Potts. It feels like the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow has had time to sizzle since their previous outing in 2008.
Mickey Rourke is intimating as the intellectually-matching adversary in Ivan Vanko, but his revenge story simply doesn’t get enough screenplay to matter. Other bad-guy Justin Hammer, as played by Sam Rockwell, fails to serve the movie in any meaningful way, as his stupidity is often just a pivot point for more jokes.
There is a plethora of other new arrivals, including Lt. Col. James Rhodes’ replacement actor in Don Cheadle, but the presence of SHIELD characters has to be seen as annoying. I came here to see an Iron Man movie, not an Avengers set-up film.
Even though there was more of the action I was looking for in the form of a robo fight between Tony and Rhodey, the final tag-team battle of Iron Man and War Machine against Ivan has to be described as disappointing. I like the pay-off of the events that happened when Tony and Rhodey fought, but the Iron Man series seems unable to nail the last robot fight at this point. Most of the ending battle is with the drones Ivan builds, which are too disposable in my opinion. I wish they put up more of a fight, and fought alongside Ivan.
All in all, there is entertainment value to be found in Iron Man 2. The witty banter from the first film has been amplified in this one, with varying degrees of success. The action has also been up-ed a notch, but with worsened quality and less overall impact in the context of the story. What is unforgiving, however, is the jam-inducing number of unrelated plot events which deteriorate any chance for a real story. This is what separates the first Iron Man from its sequel. It’s a fairly harmless bad film.