Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by:Justin Theroux
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Garry Shandling
Released: April 29, 2010
Grade: B+

Iron Man 2 is just as good as the first film.  That statement alone makes it worth seeing.  Whilst they traditionally make a lot of money, I’m not a big fan of sequels as the screenwriters often take a very conservative path.  They’re just rehashing the original – as if afraid that the audience might turn on them if they try something different.

That’s not the case here.  I liked the premise of Iron Man 2 and whilst it won’t be winning Academy Awards, the screenplay is all you could ask for from an action film.

When we’re reintroduced to Tony Stark (Downey Jr), he’s defending himself in front of a Senate hearing.  The U.S. military want him to hand over the technology for his iron man suits.  They can then use them to booster their defence force and become an even bigger military power.

Stark wants none of this.  He likes having the power and proudly proclaims that he’s “privatised world peace.”  He doesn’t want to see the technology abused by the government.  It’s a sound argument but there is a flip side.  Stark’s flamboyance is growing and many are concerned that his ego clouds his judgement.  Yes, he’s saving the world now but what happens if he has a change of heart?  What happens if a rival creates similar technology?

That situation is about to present itself.  A Russian scientist named Ivan Vanko (Rourke) has created his own iron man suit and attacks Stark while in Monte Carlo.  Stark narrowly escapes with his life and Vanko is sent to prison.  It’s certainly a wake up call.  But that’s not the last we’ll see of Vanko.  Justin Hammer, a big-name weapons manufacturer, is keen to harness and profit from this amazing technology.  He busts Vanko out of jail and sets him to work on developing an even better iron man suit.  They forge an uneasy partnership which can only end badly…

Similar in ways to the last two Batman movies, I like the exploration between good and evil.  Sometimes there’s a fine line that separates them.  I always come back to the great quote from The Dark Knight – “you can either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”.  That’s the case here and whilst Stark’s antics are quite humorous, he’s not your stereotypical type hero.  He makes his fair share of mistakes.

There’s a lot more to the plot which I haven’t gone into.  Scarlett Johansson pops up with an interesting role as Stark’s new assistant.  As promised at the end of the last film, Samuel L. Jackson enters the story as a mysterious individual who helps Stark in a time of need.

Don Cheadle has replaced Terrence Howard in the role of James Rhodes and if you listen to his first piece of dialogue, you’ll pick up on a subtle reference regarding this.  I had to smile.  My pick of the cast though was Sam Rockwell as the money hungry Justin Hammer.  He’ll get under your skin with his overly suave demeanour.

My major grievance came at the very end.  I liked the plot development throughout but as I should have expected, it turns into your stock-standard action finale.  There’s lot of noise, fast paced editing and visual effects.  It’s not always easy to see what’s going on.  I do smirk at the way in avoids showing the loss of life which would have ordinarily occurred.  But they, that’s an action film for you.

I stayed for the entirety of the end credits and suggest you do the same.  You’ll see a quick glimpse of what’s to come to the next instalment.  I guess then next film is dependent on the financial success of this one but given the hype, I expect Iron Man 2 to fly into the box-office stratosphere this weekend.