It's here! The sequel to the surprise summer hit of 2008 and the sequel to the movie that could've been our first movie review but we didn't start movie reviews until slightly after I saw the film so... enough of that. But it should be worth mentioning, that opening weekend, in 2008, was the first and last time I saw Iron Man and if I had to judge that film at that time, I'd of given it an 8/10. It was a good movie, and told Stark's story well, and looked great, but I wasn't blown away. But what about the sequel?
Two years later, a brand new movie, with a chance to go beyond the origin story and into the original storyline realm, and it's all a bit of the same really. The biggest issue Iron Man 2 has is the biggest issue that a lot of sequels have (Spider-Man 3, the entire X-Men franchise, those awful Schumacher Batman films), fitting in way too many new stories and characters for one film. Sure, the inclusion of more characters is looked at as fan service, giving fans the chance to see their favorite characters on screen, but it really is more annoying because it just makes things muddy.
So what's the actual story then? Well, I'll try to do this as spoiler free as I can, but I'll fail, and it'll be just as messy as it is in the film. First off there's the story of the film's villain, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who is made up just for the movie combining elements of Iron Man foes Crimson Dynamo and Whiplash/Blacklash. Vanko's motivation to kill Tony Stark because Stark's father deported Vanko's father to Siberia and gave him a miserable life. Then there's Tony's story, which is all about how he deals with the public image and perception of Iron Man now that he has revealed his identity and then how that effects his companions Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, who takes over for Terrance Howard from the first film).
But that's not all! Then there's the story of Justin Hammer, another wealthy inventor and arms-dealer, but just doesn't have the same edge that Tony Stark has, until he gets the right help. And there's also the little story of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) from S.H.I.E.L.D. who are monitoring Stark for the Avengers Initiative. Like I said, a lot, and that's without me even discussing the progression of the story, which I won't do, not after all that.
So, in terms of story, the film is a mess. Samuel L. Jackson is barely in the film despite what one would have thought from Iron Man 1's after-credits scene and all the ads, and the parts he is in are just him being his unintentionally hilarious self. And while I think Don Cheadle did a much better job than Terrance Howard as Rhodey, you barely see the character to even get any fealing for him, plus most of his scenes are in a suit. And Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow comes off as very boring, and lacks the character's Russian-ness, though she is visually appealing to say the least... Point being, all these characters are there, but they don't really do anything. If anything, the film should've really been about the rivalry between Tony Stark and his competitor Justin Hammer, which it was, but without all the fluff and extra characters that ended up getting more of a focus, because really, Sam Rockwell was the co-star here.
Everything else... the CGI was top-notch as usual, I really enjoyed how CG and real-life blended in really well in the first film so it was great to see that still in full effect. And there is a huge final battle scene near the end that animator Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack) storyboarded and it surprisingly shows despite it being live action, definitely one of the highlights of the film. The music? I could have done without all the AC/DC and cheesy guitar-rock, but it was almost fitting for a semi-trashy film that can never tell you when it wants to be taken as a drama or a comedy. Speaking of which, was drunken Tony dancing in the Iron Man suit really necessary? Have we learned NOTHING from Spider-Man 3? C'mon...
Overall, the film isn't bad. If you liked the first film, I think you should see the second, just to see it. But don't expect to be blown away. And to the people that really like the first film... what the hell? Really? You thought Iron Man was that great, what movies have you been watching?
Overall Score: 7.8/10