‘Iron Man 2’ fails to beat its predecessor

Ed Cottingham contributed with this review

After a blockbuster lull since the hype of “Avatar”, “Iron Man 2” kicks off the summer movie season, hoping to match the box office success and critical repute of its predecessor.

Robert Downey Jr. makes his return to the big screen as Iron Man. Photo: BFLV

The film sees a good level of continuity from the first film with Robert Downey Jr. returning as billionaire businessman and hi-tech inventor-extraordinaire, Tony Stark. Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Pepper Potts, Stark’s very personal assistant, and Jon Favreau takes the directing helm once again.

The only cast change sees Don Cheadle take the place of Terrence Howard as Stark’s right hand man, Lt. Col James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, and Scarlett Johannson and Samuel L Jackson join the full-time ranks of the good guys. Bad guys come courtesy of Mickey Rourke who plays revenge-seeking Russian Ivan Vanko, and Sam Rockwell plays Justin Hammer, a jealous rival of Stark’s. By any standard, this is a great cast.

So surely then, these elements, along with a budget in excess of $200m, come together to produce something that will set the standard for the rest of the summer blockbuster season?

Sadly, the answer is no. Barely half an hour in and the film becomes a rather dull and tedious affair. It loses itself in a series of weak plots that are hard to keep up with, mainly because there is no desire to.

When they do eventually come together, they produce a brief climax that contains the usual mix of CGI, explosions, and dizzying camera angles. As aesthetically stimulating as they may be, they fail to make a good film.

There is the odd scene that gives the film hope though. Vanko’s break from jail has a ‘Dark Knight’ quality to it, but it fails to develop and gets lost among the dragging pace and the confusing plotlines.

Even the newer members of the cast fail to make any significant impact. Rockwell and Johannson’s characters half-heartedly dip in and out of the story, not really establishing themselves or adding much to the multiple plots. Rourke’s Ivan Vanko is slightly more convincing, bringing a sinister quality to the film but his Slav accent is distracting, even to the weak dialogue.

The only positive aspect of this film is Downey Jr. He continues to play Stark with a charming arrogance and sharp wit, and his exchanges with Paltrow are slick and well executed. The film could do with more of these interactions.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect to “Iron Man 2” is the constant referencing to “The Avengers” film, set for release in 2012. Though right now it looks less likely to happen every day given studio and financial troubles, and its release has already been delayed with it not even being in pre-production yet.

Favreau, its executive producer, hasn’t even read the draft script yet. So the constant teasers seem futile in “Iron Man 2”. If just half of them were cut, the film could concentrate on itself and the end result would lose a good half hour and be a lot better for it.

“Iron Man 2” fails to build on the success of its predecessor and wastes a great cast with Downey Jr’s eccentric portrayal of Stark the only positive. And even that’s not worth the trip to the cinema.

3 Responses to ‘Iron Man 2’ fails to beat its predecessor

  1. Alex Bilbie says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I found it gripping, very funny and the group of core actors work very well together. And you should definitely see it on the big screen even if it’s just so you can marvel (pun not intended) at the awesome suitcase transformations.

  2. Joel Murray says:

    I reckon it’s definitely worth the trip to the cinema, especially if you’re a fan of comic-books or even just general action films.
    The Avengers hints weren’t frustrating, I would have said much more exciting! The Hammer at the end of the credits was very exciting as far as I was concerned, linking to both Avengers and Thor films, and the character of Iron Man in the Marvel Universe is heavily linked with the Avengers so it goes without saying that they should be in the film…

    I agree that it didn’t live up to its predecessor but what sequels do? Check out my review at http://joeldavidmurray.blogspot.com/2010/05/film-review-iron-man-2.html

  3. Noelle Declayton says:

    Great review.

    I often tend to read reviews before seeing films I’m undecided on, and I have to say that this has only helped dissuade me from seeing it.

    I saw the first Iron Man movie and in all honesty, I found it dull to the point of distraction. Predictable, half-hearted and unsually lacking in the witty dialogue for the genre, my only reason for seeing its sequel would be for RDJ’s performance, having been impressed by his more recent parts in Tropic Thunder and, of course, Sherlock Holmes.

    My advice: if you haven’t already, choose Kick Ass.