Wednesday, April 28, 2010

IRON MAN 2 - More Thrill & Spills

IRON MAN 2 (comic book fantasy)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau and Kate Mara
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenplay: Justin Theroux based on the comic books by Stan Lee
Time: 125 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Understandably, the first Iron Man was such a well-crafted and fun movie that its sequel would be hard put to keep up the standard. Well, this one, directed by Jon Favreau, tries hard and is nearly there. It has all that one would expect from an Iron Man sequel, even if it is unevenly plotted in some places.

What's more, there is Mickey Rourke (above) thundering in as the menacing Ivan 'Whiplash' Vanko and the sexy Scarlett Johansson (right) as the ass-kicking Natalie Rushman (a coveri for Black Widow?).

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The narcissistic and egoistic Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) has owned up to being Iron Man. Under pressure from the US government, the press and the public to share his technology with the military, Tony is unwilling to divulge the secrets behind the Iron Man armour because he fears the information will get into the wrong hands.

Meanwhile, Tony's past is coming back to haunt him. A demented Russian inventor named Ivan Vanko (Rourke) seeks revenge for the wrongs that had been done to his father. With Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and James 'Rhodey' Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, Tony forges new alliances and confronts the powerful new forces that have ganged up on him.

HITS & MISSES: The most nail-biting and inventive sequence of the movie comes about 20 minutes into the movie - at the Grand Prix scene where Ivan causes some spectacular mayhem and destruction. After that, every thing seems to pale beside it. The CGI sequences of the armoured men and droids battles bring a sense of deja vu, especially if you recall the actions of the first film. The other 'villain' of the film, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), remains very much a caricature (even if the film is adapted from a comic book) while Garry Shandling seems to be playing Gary Shandling rather than Senator Stern.

There are a few pleasant surprises though. They are Samuel L. Jackson as the hard-talking Nick Fury and of course, Johansson who lights up every scene she is in. Paltrow maintains her charm as Tony Stark's assistant Pepper Potts but she is overshadowed by the nubile and fighting-fit Johansson. At least she helps us forget the 'down' moments of the movie when director Favreau delves into Tony's 'electronic heart' and blood problems.

THE LOWDOWN: All in all, Favreau has kept the faith and maintained the thrills and spills of the flying Tin Man.


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