By Davin Sgargetta
For those who believe that sequels are either wildly successful or massively disastrous, Jon Favreau may have found a solid middle ground with his ”Iron Man 2” flick.
As empty an opening sentence as that may be, it’s fitting for a film that packed ample entertainment but perhaps a little less punch than many would be expecting from a Marvel picture.
To those around him Tony Stark (Downey Jnr) is having the time of his life. Relishing in his fame and ongoing success, he laps up the attention with lavish parties and theatrical public displays. But beneath the cocky exterior, he is suffering and deteriorating at the hands of a life-threatening condition.
In the knowledge that villain Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is plotting a revenge attack with the ultimate goal of annihilating Stark, he pushes on, wearing the burden of superhero on his own flailing shoulders.
Meanwhile, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) of Hammer Industries lures the genius of Vanko, in an attempt to win an arms race to recreate and multiply an army of warriors in the image and boasting the destructive potential of the metal clad Iron Man suit.
The story seems to have less urgency about it than one might expect from a superhero film seeking to improve on the first offering. For much of the film we’re concerned more with Tony Stark’s progressive downfall and self-destruction than any world-saving duty that there may be in front of him.
There’s an arms race on and we know Stark has his enemies and we do feel them coming, but there’s a lack of a real looming sense of doom that we’ve come to expect from these films, that keeps your heart racing throughout.
Essentially, a genuine and far-reaching sinister element feels absent – Stark really only needs to save himself for much of the film.
But this is not just a superhero film – Downey Jnr. doesn’t spend all that much time in his suit – and the elements employed in exchange for those lacking will be appreciated by many.
There is an air of freshness about ”Iron Man 2” and the pace of the film moves quickly enough for there never to be a dull moment, ramping up just in time for those looking for that expected clash of metal. For these viewers though, there may just not be enough of it.
The film sparkles on the screen – the technology within it feels attainable and exciting. There’s plenty of superstars in there as well – Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle – but I must question whether there was enough time spent with these characters to keep them valuable.
Off the back of the massively successful original, where a movie about a superhero who may feature a lot less in most pimple-faced kids’ comic book stacks, quickly grew to post himself among the Batmans of the Marvel world, naturally, the ground-swell of anticipation for this one has been building steadily.
In the end, it may not knock you on your backside, but you will be taken for a ride.
There’s commentary from the always-insightful Jon Favreau; numerous featurettes (covering every aspect of the film’s conception and execution); Deleted Scenes (with commentary from Favreau); Concept Art; Trailers; the rockin’ music video by AC/DC; and more!