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iron man 2
Iron Man 2
Reviewer: Ricardo Barberini
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey Jr.. Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Garry Shandling







Chapter 2 of the Marvel Comics has made its debut.  Since the famous Stan Lee is the creator or co-creator of most of Marvel comics; it is not surprising that the movies also follow the same pattern of good versus evil of the comic books. Evil is triumphant initially beating the good guy to a pulp.  Then at the last minute, the good finds new power and crushes the evil.  However, the door is usually left open for the evil guy to come back in another chapter.

As the movie starts, the World is finally at peace, because of the power of Iron Man, Tony Stark, which is keeping all belligerents at bay.   Meanwhile, the US government is trying to cajole Tony to give his secrets to the government so they could be used for military purposes.  Tony steadfastly refuses to hand over his secrets.

Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. also known as Tony Stark is facing slow death.  The implant in his chest, which replaced his heart in an earlier episode, is poisoning him slowly and he has only a few months left to live.  That makes him act reckless and immature. He hands over the rein of Stark Industries to his secretary Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow.)

Iron Man’s nemesis (antagonist or enemy to the people who do not know what it means) this time around is Ivan Vanko.  The criminal son of a Russian double agent who had stolen the secrets of original prototype of Iron Man from Tony’s father and had been deported back to Russia.   On his deathbed, the older Vanko, entrusts his secrets to his son Ivan (Mickey Rourke)  a mentally deranged character with mind of a psychopath and genius of an Einstein.  Ivan is even worse than his father. As a violent criminal, he has spent years in awful Soviet prisons yet he is more knowledgeable about computer software and hardware than most American scientists!.  He is tall, covered with tattoos from head to toe and deceptively vicious.

With limited resources and using scrap metals, Ivan creates a facsimile of the original Iron Man as envisioned by Tom’s father Harry back in the 70’s.  He adds the venom of double high energy whiplashes and goes to Monaco to kill Tony during the annual Grand Prix auto races.  In the melee that follows, he is subdued and sent to a French prison.  The French are bribed and Ivan is sprung from the prison by Tony’s arch business rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who brings him to US and gives him all his resources to create an army of androids.  Justin is a smarmy character based on greedy corporate executives such as those at AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch who gave us the recession of 2007/2009 and yet enriched themselves by the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hammer is in league with the creepy senator Stern, a typical pro-business, pro industrial military complex senator of the realm who dislikes Tony Stark for his openly stated views and is helping Hammer by belittling Tony and his inventions during senate meetings and TV interviews.

Tony Stark is about to give up his life and kill himself with boozing and more reckless acts.  He is even spurned by his previous secretary, Pepper, who is now the chairman of the Stark Industries.  Suddenly, as things look desperately dark and gloomy, in steps Nick Fury of Shields, an even more secret agency than National Security Administration (NSA.)  With information provided by Nick and Nick’s agent the beautiful Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson,)  Tony builds a cyclotron in his home with a high power laser that can cut through concrete wall and creates a new non-poisonous element to replace the radioactive material that is the source of the power to his heart.  He then proceeds to the final battle to destroy the robots created by Ivan and finally destroys him in a climactic moment.

As we said earlier, this is a comic book story and the ending will have to be happy.  But, even though the villain Justin Hammer is arrested and Ivan is supposed to be dead this is not the end of the story.  Either or both could reappear in future sequels.

Robert Downey plays the role of Tony Stark with the usual tongue-in-cheek humor of the first movie.  Sometimes, I think I have had too much of Robert Downey.  He is an able actor but seems to be playing the same character over and over again.  It is the same wisecracking character that he played in Chaplin, followed by the first Iron Man and  Sherlock Holmes.  I know that he has got more in his repertoire.  He single handedly rescued Ally McBeal TV series from oblivion when he was added to the series.  Unfortunately, drug problems caused the producers to drop him and basically kill the series.

I do not know why Gwyneth Paltrow got her Oscar.  There were many other actresses much worthier than her but somehow the system worked for her.  In this movie, she acts as dumb woman who does not know what is happening and why.  She gets herself ensnared by the secret agent of Shield, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and rejects Tony until the last moments of the movie.  She is a very attractive woman, but as an actor she is not that bright.  It is probably thanks to her father, mother and Steven Spielberg, her godfather, that she got her start in the movies in the first place.

Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, plays his role way over the top.  With his three-piece Wal-Mart suit, he keeps ejaculating stupidities at Ivan Vanko and Tony even when an idiot would know how to shut up.

We all love Samuel Jackson.  He can be almost brilliant in many instances as he was in Pulp Fiction. Unfortunately, in this movie, he is on the screen for about five minutes or so.

I have liked Don Cheadle in many of his characterizations.  My father, a gifted person in his own right would have referred to Don’s persona in this movie as being the fifth wheel of a car.  He did not add anything to the portrayal of the role.  Actually, the role of Lt. Colonel James Rhodes was not even necessary for the plot.

Gary Shindling played the greedy senator with panache.  Nevertheless, probably the most interesting actor in the movie was Scarlett Johansson.  She has been in TV and movies since 1998 when she appeared as a sullen teenager in the Horse Whisperer.  She is elegant and a good actor and if you watch the last moments of movie carefully, she has smashing legs. 

The director Jon Favreau also appeared as Tony’s sidekick in this movie.  He is as good an actor as a director. 

This movie will be a success because of Stan Lee and computerized Special Effects (FX.)   

I give this movie two and half stars.  It is good for the entire family as nice entertainment.