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WGUC Reviews

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2
Paramount Pictures
Rated PG-13
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas

It seems like Hollywood has been infected for quite some time with that pesky virus known as “sequel-itis.” It’s easy to catch, as it’s always spawned by a huge hit movie that brings in buckets of money. Unfortunately, it is a virus that causes the most pain to the movie going public, since most of these dollar driven do-overs are, for the most part, not very good. Occasionally we get lucky, and a sequel turns out to be, if not as good as the original, then pretty darn close. Such is the fortune of Iron Man 2.

To be sure there are some flaws, as in most films, and especially in sequels. Iron Man 2 takes a little too long to get going, but once it does, the pacing is fine. Instead of getting down to business, it spends maybe too much time in setting up the next Marvel comic book-into-movie The Avengers, with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. But he and his associates are good characters, and do add to the story.

And, as expected, Iron Man 2 is filled to the brim with spectacular visuals, stunts, special effects, but it doesn’t skimp on characterization. Robert Downey Jr. is back as Tony Stark, the uber-billionaire industrialist who is also a serious superhero. Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow once again is Pepper Potts, who is crucial to the operation of the Stark empire. And director Jon Favreau once again gives himself the role of Tony’s friend and bodyguard, Happy Hogan. But the film’s major strength is the exceptional supporting cast. In addition to the aforementioned Samuel L. Jackson, there’s the versatile Scarlett Johansson as a member of Jackson’s team. She manages to play her character as one who could either be hero or villain, while keeping the portrayal tongue-in-cheek so as not to veer off into parody. Sam Rockwell, one of the best character actors working today, is Tony Stark’s jealous, petulant rival, who would do anything to upstage Stark and gain fame and glory for himself. He also manages that fine line in a performance that balances humor and villainy. And the always very good Don Cheadle takes over the role of Tony’s Army compatriot, Major Rodey Rhodes.

But best of all is the decade’s “comeback kid,” Mickey Rourke. He plays a Russian counterpart of Tony Stark who, after years of exile in Siberia and caring for his ill and elderly father, seeks to right the wrong done to dad by many years ago by Tony Stark’s father. Rourke is a super-villain who has a purpose, a past, and a personality, rather than just being a mindless force of evil. His portrayal may get him another Oscar nomination next year.

The CGI special effects are all very well done, some of the stunts truly spectacular, and it’s all tied up neatly with both a happy ending and room for Iron Man 3 , which will no doubt be brought forth in a couple of years by that dreaded Hollywood virus “sequel-itis.” The law of averages are against its being as good as 1 and 2, but stranger things have happened.

The PG-13 rated Iron Man 2 is now saving the planet anywhere there’s a movie theatre near you.


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