(out of 5)
Now that his status as Iron Man has made world news, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has become something of a joke, more a glorified party host than a superhero, and his ridiculously smarmy personality can’t get enough of the attention. His frustrated assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) has decided she’s had enough until he makes her CEO of his company, a position she happily accepts while he replaces her with sexy young Scarlett Johansson. Stark also avoids telling Potts that the device in the middle of his chest that keeps him alive is beginning to fail, and the toxicity of his blood from his shrapnel injury in the first film is beginning to kill him. This is not a convenient time for such a complication considering that he is opening a giant, multibillion dollar theme park, and the son of his father’s old rival (Mickey Rourke) has shown up in town to create destructive Iron Man technology with which to kill him. This sequel to the 2008 surprise hit doesn’t have as much wonder or danger as its predecessor, relying far more heavily on Downey’s smarmy comedy than anything else. Rourke’s performance is top-drawer and he is wonderfully menacing, but the script has him spending most of his time locked away in a laboratory and he only really comes into contact with our hero a minimal amount of times. That said, it’s a worthy follow-up, fun and action-packed and dazzling to the eye, boosted by the charisma of its lead and the downright classiness of Paltrow, whose exasperation with Stark’s antics is the perfect antidote to his incorrigible personality.
Directed by Jon Favreau
Cinematography by Matthew Libatique
Produced by Kevin Feige
Music by John Debney
Production Design by J. Michael Riva
Costume Design by Mary Zophres