Iron Man 2 (2010) – 4/5

Wow! What a much better film than the first this turned out to be. Exciting, action packed, and somewhat intelligent, with an interesting overall theme and some really good performances from heroes and villains alike, this movie has forced me to reevaluate my blind hatred for comic book films, at least for the moment.

Let me just say, first and foremost, Mickey Rourke is awesome. Give the man an Academy Award already. He is brilliant as the crazy Russian villain here. Convincing, ruthless, and, at times, frightening, he brings a degree of malice to the film not seen since Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight.” Well, not that extreme, but close.

The scene with him on the race track was scarier and more disturbing than it had any right to be. I’m still not quite sure why. There’s just something about the way he walks and talks and that crazy look in his eyes, full of hatred and pain, that’s just unnerving. And the way he handled those whips, yikes. A great, great villain, one for the ages. A shame they didn’t give him more screen time.

The rest of the actors are good too, for the most part. Sam Rockwell is great, as always, as the quirky billionaire villain. He chews the scenery a bit at the beginning, but quickly settles into his own, and how. He’s charming, yet also somewhat pathetic.

The story is good too. Interesting and logical, with none of that “oh let’s send Iron Man to Afghanistan to make this film seem culturally relevant” crap that permeated the first. The stupid love story from the first is also toned down, though not enough. But that’s okay, it doesn’t ruin the film. Even the cinematography is better; there’s such attention to detail, like in the restaurant scene at the race track. So well crafted. Either Jon Favreau is learning to make better films, or he’s been secretly replaced by an infinitely better director.

The only scene that was kind of silly was the **SPOILERS** fight between the two iron men in Stark’s mansion, where they destroy half the house in the middle of a party before calling it quits. **END** A bit unrealistic. Overall though, most of the other action sequences were great, especially the race track one with Rourke. And the ending wasn’t bad either.

What I enjoyed the most, though, and I still haven’t figured out if this actually was something present in the film or if I just imagined the thing, was the man vs. machine theme throughout. It’s subtle, and not nearly as clear as I would have liked it to be, but it felt like the film was, at times, saying something about technology and the benefits and dangers associated with allowing man to have such power over nature. I’m not quite sure what that something was exactly, but it seemed important and insightful.

There’s also a lot of flesh/iron imagery, especially near the end. But, again, it’s difficult to decipher what it could mean, if anything, as it’s only briefly touched upon here and there. Or maybe I’m just crazy and seeing patterns where none exist. This is an action film, after all, and the last film didn’t have any such deep themes.

Overall, yeah, great film, way WAY better than the first. A few stupid moments and illogical plot elements here and there are more than made up for by an engaging, entertaining narrative and some damn fine performances. Thoroughly entertaining in almost every way. If this is the direction the series is heading, sign me up!

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