With the first Iron Man live action film getting my nod, I must admit that the second offering of the planned three-part movie made me excited. So I made sure that I'll be able to watch it on its first day here in Manila. I braved the rains (PAG-ASA says it could be acid rain), challenged the monstrous traffic congestion and endured the long line and the long wait (the showing was delayed in Robinson's Galleria for 1 1/2 hours!) to catch Iron Man 2.
There are three major problems that Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) faced in the film. First is the US government’s intervention with Senator Stern (Gary Shandling) demanding Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) to turn over the Iron Man armor to the government for security reasons. Stark found a secret enemy with his rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who happens to be the resource person of Senator Stern, as he publicly humiliated him by revealing Hammer’s failed attempts to recreate Iron Man.
Stark’s second problem is the discovery that the palladium in the arc reactor that is keeping him alive is slowly poisoning his body. With the uncertain future in mind, he appointed his personal assistant Pepper Potts as CEO of Stark Industries. Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) took over Pepper’s old post. Stark’s health condition affected him physically and emotionally and made him uncontrollable. Stark threw out a birthday party, thinking it will be his last, and got drunk while wearing the Iron Man suit, forcing his best friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes (don Cheadle) to use the second Mark II armor (the silver Iron Man suit) to stop Stark. Defeating the drunk Stark in Iron Man suit, Rhodes confiscated Mark II and turned it over to the military. Ending up in mess, Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson) revealed to him what his father has left – a chest of old artifacts that can bring cure for his palladium poisoning. Stark was able to develop an accelerator that was able to cure his poisoning.
The third problem is Ivan Vanko / Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) who constructed another arc reactor of his own, including an electronic whip. He attacked Stark during a race in Monaco. Iron Man defeated Vanko but discovered that he’s the son of disgraced Russian physicist Anton Vanko, who collaborated on the first arc reactor with Stark's father Howard (John Slattery). Hammer made Vanko escape prison and puts him to work by creating Iron Drones that will eclipse Iron Man. Hammer unveiled the military drones with Rhodes in Mark II armor as captain. With revenge as the only goal, Vanko deceived Hammer and secretly put all the drones, even Mark II, in his control. Iron Man was attacked by the drones and the Mark II armor, making this part as one of the film’s major highlights. With the aid of Natalie who happens to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natalia Romanoff / Black Widow, Rhodes was able to control his armor again. Rhodes and Stark joined together and combined their powers to battle a much stronger Vanko.
As expected, Iron Man 2, directed by Jon Favreau and produced by Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures, gave the action, special effects and comedy that make a comic book / superhero film a surefire hit. Iron Man 2 scores high with spectacular special visual effects, heart pounding sound and awesome production design. The story though is not far from the usual since it followed the normal hero story plot -- government / community intervenes - hero got demoralized - real enemy reveals himself - hero saves the world. The middle part of the film, where Stark is developing a cure for his poisoning, is a little dragging. 'But there are a number of film highlights that will leave a lasting impression to the audience. Vanko/Whiplash's revelation at the car race and Natalia/Black Widow's action scene are jaw dropping moments of the movie. Of course, the Iron Drones' attack to Iron Man is something to watch out for. Another highlight is how Iron Man and Mark II defeated Vanko/Whiplash. And not to discount is Tony Stark's funny scenes at the Senate hearing, in Monaco and in his birthday party.
As mentioned, Robert Downey, Jr. was able to keep Stark's humor and deliver the agony that the lead character is facing. Scarlett Johansson's character is not too much utilized in the film but in her short stint, she was able to wow the audience once again and convinced everyone that she's hotter than ever. Gwyneth Paltrow is convincing in her role, well if the purpose is to show that she's having a hard time adjusting from being a personal assistant to a CEO.
I just wish that the film could have stretched the roles Vanko/Whiplash, Black Widow and Nick Fury. I find the defeat of Vanko / Whiplash too quick. The audience is just starting to heat up after the long dragging scenes but the much awaited big fight sequence quickly ended. Audience also wanted more of Black Widow and Nick Fury. Well, they might have more in part 3 or in the separate Avengers movie.
I also advise those who will watch Iron Man 2 to not leave the cinema until post-credit scenes are finished. Clue is a teaser for another Marvel hero to be given life in the big screen.
In general, I consider Iron Man 2 a well crafted comic book superhero movie, although to be honest, the first one is better. 'But still, I think this sequel is very much entertaining, visually fascinating and worthy of our time. Iron Man is still the man to beat this summer season! =)
From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving the movie six and a half. So what are you waiting for, catch it now in the big screen! =)
Here's the full trailer:
Photos courtesy of Iron Man 2 fan page.