IM2 _ A Great Sequel
MovieMike - wrote on 12/22/11
Sequels are a tricky business. The creators need to stay somewhat near the original formula to keep fans interested; they also have to provide new twists and turns to keep things from becoming boring or repetitious. Given the popularity shown for the original Iron Man and the initial buzz for it’s sequel, Iron Man is destined to become a franchise film much like Star Trek, Superman, Star Wars, and Batman et al (sssshhh! – IM3 is already in development). As we’ve seen with other film franchises, it gets harder and harder to keep audiences coming back each time. At least with Iron Man 2 [IM2] there are definitely more twists to keep our hero, Tony Stark, busy; and the audience interested.
Jon Favreau is back in the director’s seat, and again does double-duty as Stark’s driver, Happy Hogan. Jon doesn’t mess with the original formula and gets loads of help from CGI outfits like Industrial Light & Magic (among a number of other special effects houses noted in the credits). Also back is Robert Downey Jr., as our aforementioned hero; and Gwyneth Paltrow, as his indispensable assistant. Both deliver performances that equal or better than the first installment.
New to the franchise is Scarlett Johansson, as Natalie, Paltrow’s new assistant whose real assignment gets revealed as things play out. She is exceptional in this and contributes to the action with some impressive moves. The other new face in this crowd is Mickey Rourke, as Ivan Vanko (aka Whiplash), a discredited Russian scientist who has a score to settle with Mr. Stark. I thought Rourke’s performance was excellent here, despite some shortcomings in the script. In this installment, Don Cheadle as Tony’s sidekick, Lt. Col. James Rhodes, has replaced actor Terrance Howard. I still don’t understand this casting change, but the difference between the two performers is negligible.
The real question here is IM2 better than the original? I’d have to say they are about equal. While the original was definitely fresh and carried some eye-popping effects, the sequel manages to dazzle in it’s own way. I loved the suitcase version of the Iron Man suit; and the plasma whips were an interesting effect. Where IM2 falls a bit short is in some of the setups to the action sequences. There are some holes in the script’s logical progressions, and a few elements made little sense.
IM2 also loads our hero down with a tad too much baggage. Not only is he fighting a new enemy in Whiplash, he’s also being challenged by a business rival, Justin Hammer, and even his best pal, Rhodey, is calling him out! Add to that a potentially terminal condition that Tony must resolve, and being hunted by the military to boot! This is the sort of complexity that weighed down Spider Man 3 and took the edge off its box-office success. IM2 may have some faults, but is still great entertainment. Despite the busy story lines, Iron Man maintains his mettle.
In case you weren’t aware, it turns out that IM2 is a tad more than a sequel. It’s also a setup for a series of other Marvel Comics based character movies. There’s clip that provides a not-too subtle hint on this – but you better stay through all the closing credits to catch it.