Iron Man 2 veers sharply into "guy" territory, with explosions, gunfire and Scarlett Johansson changing clothes. Female moviegoers are stuck with... Mickey Rourke in tighty-whiteys. On to TONY STARK! TONY STARK! who's on top of the world, because he's singlehandedly ended war and all that. But really he's feeling kind of down, what with dying and all. Turns out putting heavy metal in your chest is a bad idea. Leave it in the soundtrack, like the filmmakers did. There's great material here, as Tony gets reckless. He gets wasted, pees in his suit, races cars, gets attacked by Mickey Rourke with electric whips... Hey, that wasn't on the bucket list! But even this wake-up call (one of the film's best scenes) doesn't stop Stark from being a drunken asshole at his birthday party. This leads to another great scene in which Tony and his buddy Rhodey (Don Cheadle) duke it out in Iron Man suits. Then Samuel L Jackson shows up and Tony finds out some stuff about his dead dad. It's the last vestige of character development before Iron Man 2 turns into a Michael Bay flick. Not that I'm complaining. As Tony's Russian counterpart Ivan Vanko, Rourke is less believable than Jeff Bridges's Obadiah Stane. His goofy accent and two-dimensional motive (REVENGE!!!) don't help things, nor does the fact that he meets Stark only once before their too-short final confrontation, which ends with him tightly clutching the Villain Ball. I won't get into a Terrence Howard vs. Don Cheadle debate here, but Cheadle pulls off the role with his usual gravitas. He has great chemistry with Downey's Stark, but this is sadly overshadowed by all the Avengers setup shoehorned into the plot. Near the end I briefly felt I was watching Black Widow: The Movie. Gwyneth Paltrow is still an excellent Pepper Potts, although her overlapping, disjointed banter with Downey goes from being endearing to really annoying. Expect a resolution in the closing minutes. Sam Rockwell hams it up as a whiny Stark-wannabe who partners with Vanko, largely ineffectual but hilarious. All in all, this is a great followup to a marginally greater film. Though failing to completely capture the original's soul, it lives up to the former's reputation and is well worth your money. See it.
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