Another summer blockbuster season kicks off with Iron Man 2, and while the film has it's faults, there have certainly are worse ways to start off Hollywood's most expensive time of year.
The first Iron Man film helped to resurrect Robert Downey Jr.'s career, and the Peter Pan-esque billionaire Tony Stark clearly holds a place in Downey Jr.'s heart, as he imbibes the character with not only enough sarcasm and messianic mania to make even the most arrogant blush, but also with an undercurrent of humanity and vulnerability.
This is all to the good of Iron Man 2, which suffers in the plot department, trying to cram in too many characters and subplots into one picture.
The basic story is that six months have passed since the ending of the first film, and in that time Tony and his Iron Man alter ego have taken Stark Industries and "privatized world peace," creating the longest uninterrupted peacetime in years. Of course, unbeknownst to Tony, his ego and power has made him a slew of new enemies and people who want to recruit him for their own purposes.
Enter the films leading baddie, Ivan Vanko (a fantastic Mickey Rourke), the son of Tony's father's partner, who holds Tony responsible for the fall of his family. Ivan develops his own technology to bring Tony and Iron Man to their knees.
There's also relationship problems between Tony and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), a strained relationship with his best friend, Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, stepping in for Terrence Howard) and visits from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his agent Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson), who want Tony to join The Avengers. And to top it all off, the technology that is keeping Tony alive is quickly killing him.
As was previously stated, there's a lot going on here.
The film's visual aspects are all top-notch, especially the climactic battle between Iron Man, War Machine (the name given to the character when Lt. Col. Rhodes gets his hands on one of Tony's suits) and a horde of drones created by Ivan to grind Iron Man into the ground.
All the actor's do fine jobs, especially given the limited character development they have to work with. Just like the first film, this is completely Downey Jr.'s show, and it is obvious he relishes every minute of it. Watching him have a blast on the screen alone makes the movie worth watching.
While not quite as good as the first movie, Iron Man 2 is still a lot of fun, and as far as superhero movies go, one could certainly do worse. For a good time at the theatre, Stark Industries has built a perfect product.