It's here. The first big anticipated film of the year is here. The original was a big surprise when it came out. This sequel has been anticipated (as already stated) ever since. But the original weren't without its issues. My own personal problems were the character of Pepper Potts (I just didn't like how she was written), as well as the climax feeling, well, anti-climactic. So did the sequel fix these issues?
The story follows Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) after having announced himself to the world as Iron Man. The government wants his armor, seeing it as a weapon that belongs to "the people." Tony, of course, refuses. They eventually have to bring in his best friend, Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), to try and talk some sense in to him. Meanwhile, a man named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), the son of a Russian scientist, wants to take revenge on Stark. He builds an outfit to take on Iron Man, utilizing lightning whips. And then there's Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a weapons' specialist out to commercialize the Iron Man technology for the U.S. Military, and he ends up taking on Vanko as help. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman who might know more than she seems, working with Stark. And, of course, there is the return of Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
First off, the trailer is slightly misleading. It portrays Vanko as the primary villain, and I don't think that's true. Yes, he's a main villain, but the trailers hardly even show Sam Rockwell. Justin Hammer is a huge part of the movie, and really none of the plot could happen without him. But I suppose when you have the option of showcasing Mickey Rourke with lightning whips or the powerless love child of Edward Norton and Dana Carvey, I'd go with the former, too.
So how are the villains in this movie? They're pretty good. Vanko only wears his ridiculous costume for the racing scene as shown in the trailers, but comes up with something a bit more sophisticated (?) for the finale (which I'll get to later). Unfortunately, those are his only two fighting scenes. Hammer, on the other hand, is in the film constantly, either stumbling over his words trying to outwit Stark or trying to play the impressive businessman to Vanko. And he is a good villain, despite not really ever getting his own hands dirty.
And how about the good guys? RDJ is still hilarious as Tony Stark and badass as Iron Man. Don Cheadle steps in to replace Terrence Howard, and I'm not sure which I like better. I think Cheadle, overall. Howard was able to add some humor to the character, while Cheadle pretty much plays him straight, at least up until the third act. But I think Cheadle pulled off the straight-man aspect of the character better than Howard, seeming more serious and believable as a military man. And then there's Pepper Potts. I actually liked her in this movie, especially since they didn't have her yelling secret plans to overthrow the enemy while the enemy was right there like in the first movie. So yeah, she was much improved over the first movie. Oh, and... uh... Scarlett was hot (and awesome). And hot.
So what were some of the negatives, you might ask? Well, first, I don't think there was nearly enough action. There are really only three major action sequences in the movie, and only two of them serious. There's the race car fight where Vanko first shows his abilities. The fight itself occurs at the end of the first act and, depsite Vanko slicing cars in half and Stark using his awesome suitcase armor, the fight is relatively short--maybe only 1 or 2 minutes once Stark actually gets his armor on. Then there's a not-so-serious fight that introduces War Machine, which is pretty fun. And then...
...then there's the climax. As a whole, the climax is awesome. There's Scarlett Johansson kicking ass. There's Iron Man kicking ass. There's War Machine kicking ass. There's explosions, lasers, flying, dodging, martial arts, and even a bit of humor... everything. But then there's Vanko. What I was worried about was a fight like the first movie's, where Iron Man goes up against the big bad guy and it ends up only lasting a couple minutes, as Iron Man figures out some big explosion-type deal that can take him down. So how is it this time? It lasts even less time than the one in the first movie. I suppose I shouldn't be complaining, as the entire climax up to that point has already lasted a long time. But I figured all that would be just the warm-up battle to prepare for the Final Boss, as it were. At least in the original, they fly around, shoot at each other, throw some punches... in this one, it literally lasts only a minute or two, mostly of Vanko holding on to Iron Man and War Machine with his lightning whips and tossing them about. How awesome would a midair lightning whip/hand blasts battle have been? Maybe add some rain... stylish! But oh well. Everything leading up to it rocked pretty hardcore to at least make up for it to a degree.
Overall, the movie was really good. I wasn't even going to comment on the visuals, as they are amazingly well done. The action that was there was done very well, but I think there could have been a little more there. With so little action, everything else in between seemed to drag at times. I was about to get annoyed right before the racing scene came up. Yeah, he's in his suit more, but just wearing the suit does not Iron Man make. Everything else was amazing. So was it worse than, as good as, or better than the original? I certainly don't think it was worse than. I'm actually tempted to say it was even better than the original in some cases, while in others it was just as good as. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you liked the original, you will definitely like this one, possibly even more. It had a couple issues, but then again, so did the first. Has summer officially started, then? Hell yeah, baby.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
(P.S. Wait for the scene after the credits. On top of the million Avengers nods this movie throws at you, there's one after the credits that's pretty cool).