Iron Man 2 © 2010 Lord Christopher Laverty. All rights reserved.

Film Review: Iron Man 2

Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow

Summer blockbuster season has officially kicked off with one of the most anticipated releases of the year – Iron Man 2. The first Iron Man was a surprise hit of 2008, it resurrected Robert Downey Jr.’s career and even made AC/DC cool again. Taking a different tact to The Dark Knight, it kept the tone light and went down a storm with critics and fans alike. Two years later, we have the sequel.

The story picks up six months after events of the first film; Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is trying adjust after revealing his secret identity to the world. Waiting in the wings, however, is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) intent on avenging his family after an apparent double-cross with Stark Industries. He has help along the way in the form of Stark’s main competitor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell).

Even though Iron Man 2 is ultimately entertaining, it does fall short of the original. The main problem is not with the cast or action scenes; there is just no natural progression to the characters. Plus the screenplay cannot control its multiple story lines.

The first forty minutes are breezy, funny and often outstanding; Downey Jr. coasts along with his elegant charm and brilliantly delivered one-liners. He and Gwyneth Paltrow display the same great chemistry they showed first time around.

Then we have the film’s best action sequence at a Monte Carlo race track with Iron Man pitted against Vanko, aka Whiplash, and his cybernetic binds. Despite being previously unknown as an action director, Jon Favreau has certainly improved. Scenes are clearly shot and he demonstrates real skill in blending live action and CGI. The frantic final battle sequence involving War Machine and an entire Iron Man army is really impressive. Fan boys will be salivating in their seats.

Costume design by Mary Zophres is top notch. There are plenty of eye candy designer threads, especially for Stark, Hammer and Pepper Potts. The Iron Man suit itself is improved, slimmer with a lot fancier weaponry. Coupled with the aforementioned War Machine, this is comic book pornography.

Some new cast additions are appreciated. Sam Rockwell (once considered for the lead role) shows why he is consistently one of the most watchable actors around. He oozes slimy appeal implementing Hammer’s devious plans; he actually wants to be Tony Stark. It provides a real dynamic between the two, particularly during the courtroom scene which is admittedly stolen by Garry Shandling.

Mickey Rourke is terrific as Vanko. However he is short changed on story – his journey should have been the most compelling in the film. Scarlett Johansson has never been sexier as Natalie Rushman, aka Black Widow, although her character mainly just dispatches bad guys while dressed in a catsuit. On second thoughts, maybe that was the point?

Replacing Terrance Howard, Don Cheadle does commendable work as Lt. Col. ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, but there is little chemistry between him and Stark. This is frustrating because their relationship was the backbone of the original.

There eventually comes a point when the plot focus shifts to Tony Stark, yet this is not as fluid as it should be. Also the film is hurt by long stretches of uninteresting expositional dialogue. Although salvaged by that climactic battle sequence, you might wish they had spent longer getting the words right first.

Less fun than Iron Man and it has serious pacing issues. Nevertheless you will be entertained by Downey Jr.’s easy charisma and some fantastic bursts of action. A satisfactory start to the summer blockbuster season.

© 2010 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.

  • Matt

    I was wondering if anybody knows what suit Robert Downey Jr wears at the beginning of the film at the Stark Expo. Im looking for a new suit and really like the fit. I.E flared at the legs etc. Any info would be appreciated.

  • mrsnagel

    Does anyone know where I can find a striped pullover like the one Robert Downey Jr. wears in the movie? It’s grey/black striped and he has a short sleeved black t-shirt over it?

    • Justin

      Was wondering if you ever found this, was really looking for it and want it SO bad.

    • http://clothesonfilm.com Chris Laverty

      I’m afraid I didn’t. I run Clothes on Film on my own and get many, many emails every week asking similar questions about all manner of films. I’d like to help everyone, but there are just not enough hours in the day, plus strictly speaking it is not the main purpose of the site. With this mind I have just started a forum HERE – hopefully it will serve as a place to chat about costumes and answer questions such as yours. Of course it will need some time to grow first.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help at this time.

      Chris

  • Jon

    I am also wondering who provided Tony Stark’s suits for the movie…

    • http://clothesonfilm.com Chris Laverty

      Because of the obvious demand I’ll look into this. Bear with me though, as I don’t have Empire or suchlike’s resources.

  • Bruce Wayne

    Not sure who the designer was for the film’s suits, although I suspect they were custom from the movie’s costume designer.

    However, if you want a bootcut suit like that, you could try Paul Smith.

  • leann barritt

    does anybody know were to get the vest top that mickey rourke wears its the one with the square neck line
    thanks