Iron Man 2 much?

Robert Downey Jr. is riding a high wave (that I finally caught) with his single-handed elevation of  Sherlock Holmes over Christmas.  As expected, this opens with a bang as Tony Stark, flirting with annoying, takes the stage to flaunt his huge ego. Not unlike his Holmes performance, Downey Jr. seems to get away with it, when most actors would leave me wincing. Which brings me to the best part of Iron Man 2—the cast. They triumph even in the bad position they get put from the script.  Mickey Rourke’s Russian accent, Sam Rockwell’s obnoxious evil CEO persona, Gwyneth Paltrow’s pouty, whistle-blowing and Sam Jackson’s one-note character are handled, in the best possible way, from their performances. It’s great to see Rourke back in a mainstream role, thanks to pushing from another former hollywood outcast Downey Jr. Mickey is a great actor  (even if you find him creepy), proven when his best moments come without him uttering a word. He manages to be intimidating even with long hair loosely tied in a ponytail and wearing clear designer glasses.

In the sequel, Stark is failing as Iron Man,  because he is slowly being poisoned by the palladium core installed in his chest. As a result of his impending death, he becomes even more unpredictable. So much that his navy pal, now played by Don Cheadle, steals one of his suits to become War Machine, to better serve the US armed forces. This was a huge misstep in storytelling from the original comic, where Stark gives up the suit due to alcoholism. Why Hollywood did not go in this more poignant direction is likely due to the loss of product placement, seen all over this film. This is my biggest gripe, as this is the best storyline in Iron Man’s history and could have been that much more, with Downey in the role.

I did enjoy the early Monte Carlo scene, that echoes a James Bond film, as action plays out during a historic F1 race in the scenic city. The film then dips as they spend a fair amount interrupting, with dad issues and to setup future Marvel films. This does enrich the story for the comic geek in me,  although it may drag it down for some. In the end, this is still a good popcorn flick that arguably edges out the first—with better villains, twice the metal suits, and some rocking AC/DC songs mixed in. Those interested, should not leave dissappointed.

Look for: Stan Lee’s cameo as Larry King.

Forget: The after credits Thor movie tease and Larry Ellison’s cameo.

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