IRON MAN 2
With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero, Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to hand over his powerful invention, Stark, with his corporate right hand Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, Stark is stung into action when rogue Russian inventor Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) turns up with a matching suit of armour - with a history that links him to the Stark family. Stark's unscrupulous competitor, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is out to take the pending Government contract, even it means working with the mysterious but brilliant Ivan, while a new recruit at Stark Inc, (Natalie Scarlett Johansson) turns out to be something of a surprise package.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It wouldn't be much of a comic if it weren't fun, or if the filmmakers didn't try to do in live action what comics do. That means huge stunts, ranging from the explosive confrontation on the streets of Monaco during the Grand Prix Historique, to the climactic battle on the site of - and in the air above - the giant Stark Expo in New York's famous Flushing Meadows.
But Iron Man 2 is not just an action movie. For a start, this is an unusual superhero: the man inside the iron suit is billionaire playboy and businessman Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr), who has always felt ignored by his late, great father. This sense of fatherly rejection plays on Stark's psyche, but also has a key role in the plot.
Adding layers to the action, Stark has not only to confront his own flaws, but also his demanding assistant & reluctant girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his scheming competitor, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), the mysterious and curvaceous Natalie (Scarlett Johansson) - not to mention the US Senate and the military, who is after his Iron Man technology. Stark refuses to hand it over, not merely out of ego but he really believes he can help bring peace to the world through its awesome powers.
Iron Man 2 could have been just another action sequel if it weren't for Robert Downey Jnr delivering the complexity and self contradictory nature of Tony Stark, a man who is aware of his flaws but is not weighed down by them. His unique, cool sense of humour makes him more real - like a rich larrikin with a great big toy.
He doesn't work alone; the film is crammed with terrific performances - notably Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell - great dialogue, marvellous machinery and plenty to boggle the eye.
First published in the Sun Herald
Review by Louise Keller:
It's the film's tone and the screen charisma of Robert Downey Jnr that makes this big, bold action filled sequel such a blast. Everything is achievable through technology, the Marvel comic adaptation tells us and the high-tech is certainly impressive. Action aside, there's wry humour, a formidable villain in Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson's curvacious temptress and Gwyneth Paltrow as the conscientious Pepper, who counters Tony Stark's excesses. The story arc may waver at times, but the film feels like a joyful fireworks display - plenty of anticipation, highlights and pizzazz, delivering solid escapism for the fans.
Don't think, drink, Downey Jnr's Tony Stark tells Paltrow's Pepper, offering her a flute of champagne as he hands over the reigns of the company. Highlight is a spectacular scene on the Monaco Grand Prix circuit in which a scantily clad Mickey Rourke wields whips of electricity as expensive racing cars flip effortlessly in the air with acrobatic somersaults. Iron Man also feels the sting of the whips that Rourke's Ivan Vanko (aka Whiplash) brandishes; a striking Rourke with gold teeth and buffed body covered in tattoos is a colourful and worthy adversary. I like the line: 'You look as though you have friends in low places,' Stark tells him.
Cutting through the show and the stunts, the heart of the film is about Iron Man's problem to renew his central energy source, which is failing. Symbolically, there are also matters of the heart which are resolved high on a rooftop, when love needs no safety net. Jon Favreau's direction keeps the pace moving and we never take a breath as we tag along for the ride on the capable shoulders of Robert Downey Jnr.
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IRON MAN 2 (M)
CAST: Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Munn, Jon Favreau, Leslie Bibb, Kate Mara, Helena Mattsson, Stan Lee
VOICES: Paul Bettany
PRODUCER: Kevin Feige
DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau
SCRIPT: Justin Theroux (Marvel comic book by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Libatique
EDITOR: Dan Lebental
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: J. Michael Riva
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 29, 2010