Like many people, I was a big fan of the 2008 Iron Man movie, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jeff Bridges. There were just so many things that worked well in it, including a good mix of summer popcorn film action with sharp humour, Robert Downey Jr doing a brilliant job as an eccentric, narcissistic playboy, and a story that was more sci-fi than comic-book. So when the sequel, Iron Man 2, came out in theatres, a couple friends and I went out and caught the very first midnight showing!
I promised a brief review, free of spoilers, so here's it is: I'm sorry, but it just isn't as good as the first film. There are so many good actors in this film and so many good ideas, and that's one of the biggest problems... there's just too much. There's story elements that seem forced in, there's story elements that seem a little ridiculous, there's story elements that seem very rushed, there's story elements that seem too conveniently resolved. Where the first film came across as a contemporary action film with sci-fi elements (the same stylistic direction that X-Men and X-Men 2 adopted), Iron Man 2 instead comes across as too comic-book-y (one of the many failings of X-Men 3).
This sequel reminds me very much of Spider-Man 3 in the overall feel. What came before worked very well, and many of those successful elements are in there, but there's this sense that there was a guy in the process originally who's sole responsibility was to step back and say "That might work great in a four issue comic book story but that's going to be kind of silly in a two hour movie", and they didn't re-hire that guy when making this movie. I kind of wish they took out half of the ideas in this film and spent more time on what remained.
Despite all the above bashing, I have to say that I enjoyed the film. What some people seem to constantly forget is that the point of many films is not to be good, but to be entertaining. And in this respect, Iron Man 2 succeeded immensely. There was Robert Downey Jr once again zinging out sharp, funny dialogue. There was Samuel L Jackson portraying Nick Fury as designed by Bryan Hitch. There finally is War Machine, looking as bad-ass as one could ever imagine. There's Mickey Rourke slashing around with electro whips. There's a car race. There's explosions. There's a robot army. There's lots of AC/DC.
If you went in expecting the sequel to be as good a film as the first, you'll come out a little disappointed. If you went in expecting some comic book fun on the big screen, you'll come out all smiles.
Wrapping up, I must note two important things: Scarlett Johansson looks smoking hot in that one-piece catsuit, and be sure to stay until the end of the credits for very cool extra scene.