Iron Man 2

Stars: ★★★☆

Summary:  A fun, funny, big comic book movie that matches the success of the first.

Review: Superhero sequels tend to go in two directions.  Either they are two steps up from the original or two steps down.  It’s a rare moment when the same level of quality is delivered twice, and ‘Iron Man 2’ is just such a rarity.  It’s got all the fun of the first — perhaps more — and though it lacks the pure dramatic strength of the origin story, it’s got a great cast, amazing action and a better villain.

This time around, Tony Stark — having revealed his identity as Iron Man — is now more popular than ever.  Though it’s obvious he still struggles with ego, he’s also trying his best to create a heroic legacy for others to follow.  Legacy is foremost on his mind because the element that powers the miniature reactor in his chest is poisoning him, and he doesn’t have much time left.  On top of this, the government is demanding that he hand over his suit, creating a rift between him and his friend Lt. Colonel Rhodes.  The secret organization S.H.I.E.L.D. is keeping tabs on him.  Lastly, a mysterious Russian inventor is out to destroy him for reasons of his own. Will Tony Stark find a way to stop the poisoning?  Will he keep his suit?  Will he repair his relationship with his friends?  Will the Russian guy get him?  Will there be a sequel!? I can’t stand the pressure!

Anyway, it’s obviously not as focused as the first, but the strength of the cast holds it together.  Mainly, of course, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, who plays the exact opposite of Bruce Wayne.  He’s a popular rich guy who enjoys the hell out of being a superhero.  There’s no major brooding here.  I have a theory about the AC/DC songs that introduce us to Stark in both films.  In ‘Iron Man’, it’s ‘Back in Black’, a song about defying death, which is of course the central theme of that film.  In ‘Iron Man 2’, it’s ‘Shoot to Thrill’, a song about, well, thrill-seeking, which is arguably the central theme of this film, as it is Stark’s real Achilles Heel.

Though it kind of drags in its second act, it never lost my interest.  For all the dramatic material, it’s a hilarious script and the gags hit their marks most of the time.  It’s a great crowd movie.  It’s a good superhero movie.  It shot to thrill, and hit its target.

Buy It From Amazon:  Iron Man 2 (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

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