Unreal Movie Review: Iron Man 2


As waves of Iron Man 2 promo materials overloaded my senses on a nearly constant basis for the last six months, my patience with the sequel began to erode. It appeared as if the film was taking a dangerous Spider-man 3-like turn, with too many villains, too many stars and too much to keep track of.

Iron Man 2 seemed like it would be a bloated mess, too over encumbered to replicate the slickness and style of the instant classic original.

Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.

Yes, Iron Man 2 has many, many moving parts, but seeing them come together isn’t like watching an elephant put together a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle as you might imagine, rather, all the pieces assemble and interlock almost seamlessly, like you’re watching Iron Man’s suit mechanically wrap its way around his body.


It tickles!

There are many plotlines weaving in and out of each other, and even more characters to keep track of this time around, where the first film as an origin story really only had one main hero and villain to worry about. Here however, there is much more going on, yet surprisingly, it’s incredibly easy to manage as it all unfolds.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is now even more of an international celebrity after revealing to the world he’s Iron Man. It’s a time of unparalleled peace, as terrorists are too shaken to defy the flying metal death suit, and Tony is happy to take credit for ending the world’s wars, though the US government is pressuring him to turn over his “dangerous weapon” to them.

Stark has two rivals to worry about in this film, something we know from the get-go as secret traitors are SO Iron Man 1. First is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), the son of an industrialist betrayed by Howard Stark decades earlier, who now seeks revenge on his son, Tony, using his own arc reactor tech against him. After Vanko’s failed, but impressive assault on Iron Man in Monaco, he catches the eye of Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a government defense contractor eternally jealous of Stark’s genius and determined to create a weapon as deadly as the Iron Man suit with Vanko’s help.


His rickety S&M/polio brace suit here is actually featured very little in the film. 

But Tony has a few friends in his corner as well. There’s Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his longtime assistant and sometimes make-out buddy who more or less runs Stark Industries now that Tony’s ego has tripled in size since the Iron Man reveal. Lt. Rhodes is back with a new face in the form of Don Cheadle (playing the part much better than Terrence Howard I’m obliged to say), and he has the dual duty of being a friend and confidant to Tony while trying to pry his suit away so it can be taken apart and replicated for US pilots who DON’T operate billion-dollar death machines with a fifth of Jack and a pint of palladium in their bloodstream.

The one extraneous plot shoved into the movie purely for the sake of setting up the (in my opinion, impossibly conceived) Avengers movie involves Samuel L. Jackson doing his best Samuel L. Jackson impression as SHIELD honcho Nick Fury. He sends a sleeper agent into Tony’s camp in the form of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) yet never once is she actually called that.

If one plot had to be axed for the sake of the audience’s sanity, it should have been this one, as Scarlett Johansson is a blank slate as Agent Romanoff, wondering why someone cast her in a movie where she DIDN’T have a married man to seduce (and even worse, actually ends up seducing no one at all in the film). She has one epic moment of ass-kicking late in the film, but her presence is in no way necessary to further the plot, and I suspect Ms. Johansson is only in the film because Gwyneth Paltrow’s boobs didn’t look big enough on the movie poster.


Did I miss something, or was this scene in no way in the movie?

I found it interesting that there really was no looming threat in this movie as it’s refreshing to see a superhero movie where no mad genius is bent on destroying the city, the country or the world. Sure, there’s a scuffle that threatens some civilian’s lives that’s cobbled together near the end, but this movie isn’t as much about explosions and gunfire as you might imagine, it’s really about character building and relationships.

I’ve heard complaints that Iron Man 2 is too slow, and its focus on the humanity of its characters rather than the destruction they cause is probably the reason for that, but I don’t view it as a bad thing. Stark and Pepper’s relationship is volatile, but passionate, and results in some real chemistry that you wouldn’t expect from a movie like this.

What I found more interesting however was Stark and Justin Hammer’s give and take, with Hammer trying desperately to emulate Stark in every way, snagging an interview with the Vanity Fair reporter Stark previously banged or doing an awkward dance on stage as he introduces his new robo-tech. He’s a pompous prick sure, but he’s one of the more pathetic villains I’ve seen in this genre. A little man with no real power, who’s not particularly good at what he does, more jealous of the hero than anything else.



Also quite humorous are his interactions with Vanko, and I must applaud Mickey Rourke on an exceptionally understated performance here. Hammer yells at Vanko to build him some cool robots, but he responds only in short, often hilarious broken English sentences, and I’m convinced he doesn’t have more than a dozen lines in the entire film. In a sense he’s the movie’s main villain, but his presence doesn’t overwhelm the film at all, and I was very impressed with how he was used throughout.

These movies are just fun. No, it’s not quite as good as the first film, which is about as perfect as a superhero blockbuster can be, but this film is very entertaining regardless, when too many cooks could have easy ruined the pot. That a coherent, watchable story came out of all these random pieces thrown together is nothing short of a miracle, and to Favreau and Downey Jr. I say something I rarely utter given Hollywood’s current recycling landscape. Bring me another.

4 out of 5 stars

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  1. Liked it, but didnt think it was a good as the original, however I did almost punch my friend in the face when he said he didnt know who the Avengers were. Or Thor. Or Captain America.

    Then when I had to explain to him who these people were I felt like a nerd of epic proportions, until both of our girlfriend’s responded “You mean the guy from Adventure in Babysitting, right?”

    Then I felt like a hero.

  2. People don’t realize how massive the Marvel universe is, and how many a-list characters there, are, not to mention the endless amount of b-list characters who could easily carry their own movie(i.e Deadpool). The last 2 X-men movies(Last Stand and Wolverine) did their best to ruin many of them, but I have high hopes for the Avengers. I expect 1 more Iron Man movie to follow, along with the Captain America and thor movies, before the Avengers movies gets here.

    I say movies, because there are enough plotlines and epic villains available to keep them going forever. People will get tired of the superhero movies eventually, but that is up to Hollywood keeping their head out their collective asses, and focusing on making intelligent movies instead of just jamming as many heros/villains into one as possible.

  3. Speaking of images that weren’t in the film… maybe I was just distracted by the jerk who came in at the very last minute and decided that in an entire row of empty seats that the obvious choice for him was the one directly in front of me, but was the trailer scene where Pepper kisses the Iron Man mask and throws it out the back of a plane actually in the movie? I seem to remember Tony wearing the mask the entire time and just jumping out the back.

    But again, my memory may be suspect due to the inconsiderate clod deciding the only place to sit in a theater not even 1/3 full was right in front of me.

  4. I found it slightly humorous that a hyper-cube made an appearance during Tony Stark’s search through his father’s notes. I kinda laughed to myself because I was wondering what a theoretical 4 dimensional cube had anything to do with the type of science fiction in Iron Man 2. Also, my girlfriend missed it, I recently had a movie marathon (thanks NetFlix) consisting of Cube, Cube 2: The Hyper-Cube and Cube: Zero. Back to Iron Man 2, Vanity Fair? Really? You have Hammer really trying to get his name into Vanity Fair? Oh my god, ditch Scientific American get me Vanity Fair for my up to date technologies and military contracts relationships.

  5. @ Postal

    I thought the same thing about that scene, i was sitting there thinking “That was different than the trailer.” Honestly I think that’s a good thing, I hate it when i know what’s going to happen in a movie because I recognize the setting from the trailer.


    Cube = Awesome
    Cube 2 = ridiculous yet hilarious
    Cube Zero I never made it through to the end.

  6. Okay, I have to ask this at a wider audience: I am the only one thinking that the robots Vanko built look suspiciously like Ultron?

    By the way, are there any rumours regarding the villain (or villains) of the Avengers movie?

  7. @J5
    Consider yourself lucky for not finishing Cube Zero, as the final revelation of it completely ruins the awesomely ambiguous ending of the first (and best) Cube film.

    On a related note, I can’t wait for Splice from the same director 🙂

    Anyone else want a set of suitcase armor?

  8. awesome review as usual! I also liked how they fixed the plot hole from the first movie about why stark didn’t mass produce the arc reactor tech. it was like watching an episode of Lost in a weird sort of plot fixing way. I would like say that I think I couldve enjoyed this movie more if the trailers hadn’t revealed so much, but then again who’d go see it if they hadn’t shown you the glimpse of war machine.

  9. Just got back; spot on review. I love [Fav-row] too, it seems like all the ‘bit’ parts were played by good actors.

    My wife said, though, that Scarlett Johansson was ‘meh’.

    I said, “Pajiba and Unreality said the same thing, they said-”

    “She’s only in for her tits and ass.”

    “Well then, that is exactly what Unreality said.”

    She then went onto tear apart Hammer in such a way that leads me to believe that you, Paul, are sleeping with my wife and whispering sweet movie reviews in her ear.

    Oh, and the grown man child that sat behind me in the theater that would cry “Holy Cow!” aloud every time something blew up or flashed on screen totally completed the comic book movie experience.

  10. Haven’t had a chance to watch this movie yet, but I don’t walk into these kind of movies expecting anything.

    In fact, I find it somewhat irritating that people give this movie a crappy rating not because the movie was actually worse than the first, but rather that they are tired of the formula and are not willing to admit it. Like I said, I have not seen the movie yet, but just judging from the reviews, I can say that 90% of the people’s bitching comes from the above statement.

    What I mean is that nowdays, nearly all sequals are at least as good as the first movie. Some people are going to disagree with me on this, but do you really think that transformers 2 was actually worse than the first 1. ok, the story was crap, but the special effects and basic set up is exactly the same. The 2nd movie waaay out done the first. People were impressed by the first movie because of the novelity of cars transforming on the big screen. Think about it, both movies had rediculous settings.

    Anyways, I was not all that impressed with the first iron man, it’s one of those “oh yeah, I m entertained because I haven’t seen it before” kind of thing. There was hardly any action, Robert Downey Jr. carried the movie by acting like an ass hole. From what I’ve seen so far, that hasn’t changed. Instead of seeing the movie for what it is, people use something else as an excuse for not liking the movie.

    sorry for the long rant. stuff like that just grinds my gears.

  11. I know everyone’s alittle bummed by Scarlett’s performance in IM2 (will I be seen as the trend setter for calling the movie that? Probably not).
    But, that particular story line will be essential in the long run if they decide to do the Avengers movie in the way the ULTIMATES comic book was created. She’ll have a pivotal role hopefully her blandness will pay off and she’ll show more expression.
    I like movies that try to lay the ground work for future things to come. Not everything has to be explained just for the sake of neatly wrapping loose ends up…..some things SHOULD be alittle mysterious.

    What’s funny to me about this movie is that one quarter all of my favorite actors are in this movie: Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Roarke, Scarlett Johannsen, Terrence Howard (IM1 although, he blew it with his attitude and choice of acting), Samuel L. Jackson and even Jude Law’s voice is envolved (if I’m not mistaken; as Jarvis the butler).

  12. no. they didn’t come together, ther movie was all over the place giving little to no time for each individual element. there were too many characters, too many subplots and not enough time for any real coherent story; it was too busy building up for the Avengers to remember it had to be a film in its own right. plus Tony Stark changed from the *cough* ‘loveable rogue’ that he was in the first one to the egotistical destructive prick we see in this one. maybe this was closer to the comics, but after the joys of the first one I found it a major let down.

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