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Vol. LXIV, No. 19
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

IT STILL FEELS A LITTLE TIGHT UNDER THE ARMS: Billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is trying out his invincible suit of armor with its incredible technology that he has developed in order to maintain world peace. Of course his evil nemesis Ivan Vanko has developed a suit of his own which leads to battle between the forces of good and evil. To find out who wins, see the movie!

Iron Man 2: Downey Delights With His Charm in Swashbuckling Sequel

Kam Williams

The savoir faire of the title character’s debonair alter ego is what makes the Iron Man in this film stand out from other comic book/screen superheroes. Billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is always quick with the clever quip, whether reacting flirtatiously to the arrival of a new employee, impulsively entering the Monaco Grand Prix (“What’s the point of owning a race car if you can’t drive it?”), or dismissing an insufferable adversary (“You look like you have friends in low places.”)

This makes the movie a delight to watch between the obligatory fight sequences. Credit for this goes to Robert Downey, Jr. for his natural charm in the role and to director Jon Favreau for apparently encouraging Downey to augment his scripted lines with ad-libs.

Besides Downey, other returning cast members to the Iron Man series include Favreau as Stark’s chauffeur Happy Hogan, Gwyneth Paltrow as his employee and potential love interest Virginia “Pepper” Potts, Leslie Bibb as reporter Christine Everheart, Clark Gregg as agent Phil Coulson, and Samuel L. Jackson as General Nick Fury.

Foremost among new additions to the cast are Don Cheadle who replaces Terrence Howard as Stark’s pal Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Mickey Rourke as his nemesis Ivan Vanko, Sam Rockwell as his business rival Justin Hammer, and Scarlett Johansson as the inscrutable temptress Natalie Rushman.

The sequel picks up where the original adventure left off, with the Iron Man serving as a formidable deterrent to those enemies who are even thinking about causing trouble anywhere on the planet. Because his identity as the Iron Man has been revealed, Stark is subpoenaed to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee where he is interrogated by a Senator (Garry Shandling) who demands that Stark share his secrets with the military. But the suspicious inventor, feeling that he has successfully privatized world peace, refuses because he is worried that his proprietary technology could fall into the wrong hands.

Meanwhile, half a world away, Ivan Vanko, a maniacal Russian physicist with a personal grudge against the Stark family, is frustrated in his work on his own impenetrable suit of armor. His limited resources and lust for revenge conveniently dovetail with the needs of munitions manufacturer Justin Hammer who has plenty of money to compete with Stark Industries.

This setup leads to the inevitable battle between the forces of good and evil. En route to that spectacular special effects showdown, there are a variety of intriguing subplots that involve Tony’s failing health, Rhodey’s loyalty to Pepper’s promotion to CEO, and the disclosure of Natalie’s true identity.

Overall, a satisfying sequel to start off the summer blockbuster season. Be sure to stay to the end of the closing credits for a clue about which Marvel superhero may next be adapted to the big screen.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity and intense violence. In English and French with subtitles. Running time: 125 minutes. Distributor: Paramount Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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