Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2 Review

The original Iron Man is a hard act to follow. With it's effortless humor, high flying action, and fantastic performances, there was very little room for improvement. So how does Iron Man 2 stack up?

It was good.

It wasn't great. It wasn't mind-blowingly awesome. It was completely solid, leaving me nothing huge to complain about, but nothing so amazing and new that I was left slack-jawed in it's wake. The problem is the first one was so good, it was a tough act to follow.

It's like this: movies like Spider-Man or X-Men, were serviceable movies with lots of promise and a hint of awesomeness for the sequels to build off of. Those second movies, in turn, were amazing, springboarding their franchises to new heights and showing the world at large how it's done (especially in the case of Spider-Man 2). The downside to this is it raised the bar so high, the third movies in the franchises were terrible. They would try so hard to build off the success of it's predecessor while adding a bigger element, but would ultimately collapse under the weight of the hype. Iron Man 2 falls between say Spider-Man 2 and 3 in quality: It has some great moments, but it gets weighed down by all the moving pieces of the plot.

Leaving the theater last night, I kept trying to process my feelings on what I had just watched. The performances are pure gold, the story lines make sense, and there was plenty of geeky Easter Eggs to make my heart go all a flutter, but I wasn't left with that urge to see it again right away like after the first one.

As for the movie itself, it's more a story of Tony Stark than it is about Iron Man. If the first movie was about Tony becoming the title hero, this new one is about Tony dealing with his new post-Iron Man life. But not in the bigger-than-life superhero kind of way, instead it's more about the government's response to this private peace-keeping machine. Tony's insistence that he's the only one who can successfully pull off this prosthetic technology is put to the test as his enemies scramble to make their own versions of his crowning achievement. Ghosts from the past combine with an industry rival to create the perfect challenge for our hero, forcing him innovate to remain number one.

That's not to say there isn't awesome superheroics throughout the movie, far from it. Per capita this more Iron Man action in the sequel than the original, but it never seems to overtake the human aspects of the story. It's a tribute to Jon Favreau that he's able to build a movie bigger in scope than the original, but not lose the characters; it's a feat that few sequels accomplish.

In the end, Iron Man 2 is a solid sequel with plenty of action and great characters, but falls short of being exceptional because of comparisons to the original. Don't get me wrong, it's 100% worth seeing in the theater, but don't go excepting something far superior its predecessor.

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