Put simply, Iron Man 2 is an entertaining, fun-filled movie. With an endless supply of wise-cracking remarks by the actors, Iron Man 2, written by Justin Theroux and directed by Jon Favreau, demonstrates that a movie loaded with special effects can still be a film in which dialogue counts. Perhaps that’s because Theroux and Favreau are also actors and therefore appreciate the fact that words do matter.
Robert Downey Jr. is back in top form as Iron Man/Tony Stark along with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts, Stark’s former assistant and now CEO of his company. The scenes with Downey and Paltrow crackle with chemistry and are a lot of fun to watch. Also back for a return visit is Favreau as Stark’s driver and Paul Bettany as the voice of Jarvis. Don Cheadle replaces Terrance Howard’s Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes and doesn’t miss a beat—he’s actually an improvement in the role.
Iron Man 2 features two villains—Sam Rockwell’s nebbishly evil Justin Hammer, a competitor of Tony Stark—and Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko, an electrical genius who’s “freed” from incarceration by Hammer so he can help him design a suit better than Stark’s with which to sell to the government. They are very good together and have fun with their roles. It’s nice to see Rourke continuing to get work, and Iron Man 2 will certainly pay his bills, but hopefully he’ll start getting roles that really challenge him.
Iron Man 2 also showcases Scarlett Johansson in a dual role as Natalie Rushman, a Stark lawyer and as Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. She shows off some terrific martial arts moves in “a-to-die-for” killer body. Is Johansson ready for her own comic genre movie? You betcha!
Viewers will notice some veteran character actors in key roles, most notably John Slattery as Tony Stark’s father (who looks amazingly like Walt Disney) and Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. And Gary Shandling is wonderfully funny as a U.S.Senator.
To be sure, Iron Man 2 comes with the requisite number of special effects, thankfully none requiring 3-D glasses, but most of all there is Robert Downey, Jr. And he’s ultimately more important and better than any special effect could ever be. (And yes, all is forgiven for Sherlock Holmes.)
3 nuggets out of 4