Mickey Rourke should have emerged as one of the great villains
Now that the novelty of the first Iron Man has worn out (there's only so much of a smirky Robert Downey Jr one can tolerate), comes this sequel which is quite good, if not a little long and unambitious.
The villain is a Godsend (Mickey Rourke with a Russian accent, glasses and weird energy whips) and I was expecting more mayhem. Rourke's first bust-up with Iron Man, on a racing track in Monte Carlo, is really cool. But we saw most of it in the trailer already and there's nothing else for the rest of the movie that tops it. The closing sequences are a little long, and some of the scenes in this film should have been cut.
The plot? Umm, basically Iron Man's dad was, ironically connected to his birth as a superhero. Said dad and his Russian partner had a bust up, partner ends up in Russia. Russian partner has a son, son sells technology to Pakistan, the place where Iron Man put together some stuff to become who he became, using said technology. This is actually the most interesting part of the whole film (it's hardly a twist and is hinted from the opening scenes) because it points to a key component of the comic book genre: the idea that most superheros either participate in the conditions that birth their superdom or those conditions involve their parents. This element gives most superheros a clear Oedipal/Freudian ring, beneath the gore.
Scarlet Johannsen is way cool, Gwyneth Palthrow is kinda entertaining and well, Samuel L Jackson has the best line in the whole 2.5 hour she-bang. But this should have been better or creepier or edgier. So as my good friend Gingy would say, it was decent. But forgettable. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
NEXT REVIEW: A look at the stunning Israeli film Eyes Wide Open.