Science fiction and fantasy
Iron Man 2
directed by Jon Favreau
In Russia Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is a man with a grudge, and plenty of prison ink to show for the time he's spent behind bars. His father passes on secret blueprints for a body suit to rival Stark's. Vanko's a brilliant physicist, and before long he turns up to demonstrate his new invention. Vanko may be the kind of villain who likes to work alone, but his talent is a temptation for other people who would like to see Tony Stark knocked off his pedestal.
Meanwhile at Stark Industries, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is growing increasingly concerned about Stark's erratic behaviour. She isn't the only one, as his friend Lt. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) shares her unease. Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) is another character who has people on edge. She's a multi-talented lawyer who has risen quickly in the organisation. But is she up to something?
Iron Man 2 is a very flashy movie, full of explosive action and thumping rock music. Nearly every frame looks like it cost a fortune, with locations such as Moscow and the Monaco Grand Prix and lots of impressive stunts and effects. It's got more gloss than a paint factory, and it treats technology as the equivalent of magic. Vanko can break into an unknown computer system in seconds, whilst Tony Stark builds CERN in an afternoon in his workshop, using parts he had lying around. One of the themes is that anything is possible with technology, but be prepared to suspend your disbelief quite considerably.
Justin Theroux's script combines snappy dialogue with a compelling story. Can one man preserve world peace and save himself, and what if he can't be relied upon? Iron Man may be this incredible figure who comes off as invincible, but this is a story that's all about losing our strength, and about our fear of mortality and what we leave behind.
Robert Downey Jr. depicts Stark as a man with an infectious enthusiasm for life and a boundless narcissism that borders on arrogance. But once in a while we see through to Stark's underlying vulnerability, in spite of the character's best efforts to hide it. There's good chemistry between Stark and Pepper Potts, even if the physics in this film is a bit iffy. Iron Man 2 looks and sounds great, but it's this central relationship that really gives the movie its sparkle.
18th May 2010
If you like this, try:Avengers Assemble by Joss Whedon
Marvel superheroes team up to save the world from Loki and his exceptionally bad taste in headgear.
Captain America: The First Avenger by Joe Johnston
In the forties a secret plan to boost the war effort results in the creation of a superhero. But can one person really make a difference?
Thor by Kenneth Branagh
The god of thunder is cast down to Earth to learn a little humility.
Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Jon Favreau