May 14, 2010
Having successfully subsidized world peace, Tony Stark has now become more of a supersized three-ring circus in "Iron Man 2," and that's the crux of this sequel in a nutshell.
Aside from nifty special effects, the original film had star Robert Downey Jr.'s sly, offbeat humor at its core. It was more than just the sum of its techno wizardry and explosions — there was a real sense of fun.
There is still fun to be found in "IM2" — just few and far between. As Stark wannabe Justin Hammer, Sam Rockwell is stupidly funny. His splotchy palms, stained with self tanner, tell you all you need to know about him. Garry Shandling's snarky Sen. Stern gets the biggest laugh — but not until the very end.
Such a plethora of underused talent here — from Gwyneth Paltrow to Mickey Rourke's creepy Ivan Vanko to Don Cheadle, they're bland even in iron suits. Samuel L. Jackson ("do I look at the eye or at the patch?") could have phoned it in.
Scarlett Johansson is — big stretch — a sultry new assistant, but the biggest mystery is where she finds room in her catsuit to pack a curling iron.
I'm sure there will be an "Iron Man 3" — let's hope the third time will be the charmer.