originally posted at moniqueblog.net
Holy flashy projects, Batman! Wrong comic book empire, I know, but still, this movie used every ounce of their production values budget. From cameos by Bill O'Reilly, Christiane Amanpour, the recently deceased DJ AM and even Marvel Comics institution Stan Lee as Larry King, along with spots by Audi, C-Span, Youtube, Monaco's famed racing track and a plethora of other goodies, this film feels totally immersed in our present time as well as evoking the style, extravagance, and expensive quality that comes with Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.)'s fast-paced, did-it-yesterday kind of life. But beneath the logos and lights and glitter, there's a well-organized, tightly-written story with actual pathos. And, like the movie itself, behind the fast-paced one-liners, ego and manic attitude, Stark has depth, angst, and genuine concern for others.
The storyline continues from the first movie's end, where Stark reveals he's Iron Man. In this movie, he's capitalized from his admission, creating an entire brand around his suit of armor and declares that he's "successfully privatized world peace." While he's riding high on his ego, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is plotting to take the control and world admiration from Stark by replicating his palladium core technology and creating his own device-a set of electric whips that can cut through cars. Although not mentioned in the movie, he becomes Whiplash. Along with external threat, Stark is facing one that is very internal-his palladium pacemaker is slowing killing him.
The characters are solid once again-Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is still magnetic as Stark's rock and more organized half, Lt. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) as his long-suffering friend (in this movie, Rhodes becomes War Machine), Scarlett Johansson kicks major butt as steely S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Natasha Romanoff. Rourke is enigmatic as the quiet, self-contained force Whiplash, and almost wish there was more of him in the film. Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer comes across as a mix of that guy you have to deal with when you're calling in for electronics help and the middle-management guy that you hate working for, which is awesome for this role.
Like I said, the story is technically and emotionally sound, and the repartee between the characters is sharp and witty. Actually, most of the action comes from the conversations, reminiscent of '40s screwball comedies. Probably the only thing wrong with the film-which is an echo of the first film's ending-is that the villain was defeated too fast. The buildup in the beginning of the fight was spectacular and raised the stakes, but the villain himself was beat by a few punches.
Even still, this movie is a must-see; it's a great way to jump-start the summer movie season. As a P.S., I really don't know where the hate is coming from with this movie; just because there's more talk and less blowing stuff up doesn't mean it's a horrible film. Some of the best action/dramas have the least action, like The Godfather
. When action happens in movies like these, it matters; it's not needlessly thrown in like the Transformers