One of the most anticipated movies of 2010, Iron Man 2 is a loud, in-your-face thrill ride with plenty of bravado but not enough substance to keep you fully vested in the characters. I had been looking forward to this movie for a while having seen Iron Man on DVD last year. The original was powered by Robert Downey Jr's excellent performance as Tony Stark. The origin story of the original was the real appeal of Iron Man. We got to see Tony go from billionaire playboy to billionaire activist with an electric energy core for a heart.
You would think that a sequel would give Jon Favreau and his writing team free reign on opening the Iron Man world beyond just the origin story, similar to what Chris Nolan did with The Dark Knight. Favreau mostly fails in Iron Man 2 though as the plot seems to be all over the place and the villains are mostly forgettable. Gwenyth Paltrow is completely annoying as Pepper Potts and I find myself wondering what Coldplay's Chris Martin is doing with her. I'm starting to develop that Glenn Close style hatred for Paltrow. There are too many goofy scenes to take this movie seriously. The one that was most out of place featured Downey dancing in his Iron Man suit, shooting bottles of alcohol and watermelons while DJ AM (who is dead in real life) scratched records in the background. A completely unnecessary scene that seemed to be forced in there.
One of the redeeming factors of IM2 is Scarlett Johansson as Tony's assistant (and the rogue superhero Black Widow) . She steals the scenes she's in and looks pretty damn incredible in the process. By the way... is there a bigger upgrade in Hollywood than what Ryan Reynolds did in moving from Alanis Morissette to Scarlett Johansson? Good for Van Wilder.
Sam Rockwell (excellent in the recent movie Moon) actually out shines Downey in this film. His character (a rival weapons designer) brings much needed comic relief. The visual effects and sound quality did live up to the hype (especially in IMAX), but that was really the main strong suit of the entire film.