As part of our celebratory actions following the completion of my husband's last law school final exam of the semester, we decided to head to the theatre and catch the latest in the Marvel-made-into-great-or as the case may be-not-so-great-movies (and their sequels and in some cases, prequels); the much-anticipated Iron Man 2.
Seeking to (expertly?) avoid the drones of fans and movie buffs alike, likely to come out on Friday and Saturday nights, we purchased our tickets in advance and then promptly made our way to the Ballston Regal bright and early Sunday morning to catch the 10am showing. Our plan, indeed, worked - we managed to be one of half a dozen viewers in the theatre this morning!
Without giving too much away, I will say, Iron Man 2 delivered a relatively amusing story with some well-timed, action-packed scenes. We are reminded of our love for Tony Stark and his self-deprecation from the opening scene when we witness Iron Man launch himself from the back of a plane and burst onto the stage at the Stark Expo (a year-long expo demonstrating the latest and greatest Stark inteventions and for a lucky few, up and coming inventors). Robert Downey Jr. gives us the Tony Stark we've grown to enjoy since the first Iron Man and delivers a solid performance throughout the film.
Don Cheadle gives a stellar performance in his role as Lt. Colonel James "Rhody" Rhodes, Stark's long-time best friend. Rhodes finds himself struggling to balance his job and his duty to the United States, with his loyalty to and admiration of Stark. Despite what some may call, a serious lapse in judgement, in the end, the two come together to fight a commone enemy, achieving a few firsts for Iron Man and ultimately saving their friendship. Cheadle, also does not disappoint, and gives a sincere and at times, humourous performance. In this humble writer's opinion, Cheadle is a seriously underrated genius. As with all of his roles (Crash, Hotel Rwanda, and Ocean's Eleven, to name a few), Cheadle brings a certain dignity to the film.
We are also re-introduced to Stark's personal secretary-turned-love interest-turned CEO, Pepper Potts (played by Gweneth Paltrow). The back and forth banter between Potts and Stark, though amusing, is not nearly as integral to the plot line in the second installation of the film series and is somewhat tainted by Stark's secret (I won't spoil that for you - just suffice it to say, keeping Palladium in one's chest is not the healthiest option for a human being).
The best character by far that we are not re-introduced to, but rather introduced to for the first time, is that of Ivan Vanko, in true Marvel fashion, Iron Man's soon-to-be arch nemisis. Played by Mickey Rourke (who's career is definitely on the "up swing" since shocking and ultimately delighting all of us in the The Wrestler), Ivan holds a secret past and knows far too much than anyone should about Iron Man and just how he gets his power. Unlike Pepper Potts, Ivan is indeed, integral to the plot and gives our hero what he needs, a challenge!
Finally, we see Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johannson as the newest additions to the Iron Man family (unlike Ivan, they are clearly batting for the good side). On a somewhat disappointing note, Scarlett fans may be less than impressed with her role as Natalie Rushman. It is certainly evident she may have followed the ideas and extreme dieting her female colleague, Paltrow, espouses (her physical appearance is dramatically altered as a result of her super-hero costume), but the depth of her character was certainly lacking.
Iron Man 2 comes recommended for fans of the first film, action buffs, and the ever-growing hoards of RDJ fans.
The Bee Charmer Review rating: B