Iron Man 2 builds the hype, shows some sparks of brilliance but finds it difficult to match up to original. Hopefully, the next ones will be more impressive.
While Tony Stark declares to the outside world, that he is the Iron Man at the end of the first Iron Man, we learn in the second movie, that Iron Man, like all other superheroes have a flaw. Here, he is dying. The battery or energy source in his body has one of the rarest materials, Palladium. But, it's still not good enough to increase toxicity level in his blood measured by what else, but Stark Blood Monitor. I couldn't help wonder though, about the speed at which the toxicity level is shown as increasing in a matter of a few days. Can he invent something more rare to save himself?
But, Uncle Sam isn't happy and neither are the competitors. There is a mad scramble to come up with similar suits and in a scene reminiscent of USA's and World's search for Weapons of Mass destruction and other nuclear weapons worldover, Tony Stark makes fun of competition, who are yet to come close to a prototype. Mr. Hammer is one such ambitious weapons manufacturer. In another part of the world, Ivan Vanko (played by Mickey Rourke...not related with the North Indian town with a reputed Engineering Institution) gets working on a prototype of a new character, Whiplash in an environment, which reminds you of Tony Stark's initial work on Iron Man in captivity. The scene in which, Whiplash lashes out on the Monaco racing tracks is one of the high points of the movie. You know, it's not yet half-way and the game is not yet over, but you don't know, which way, it will go.
Thre are some new characters like Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who looked a bit like Austin Powers to me in his suit. Then, there is a Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) who is heading a Congressional committee which wants Tony Stark to hand over the Iron Man suit to the government. Did I see a tussle between public and private ownership here. When Tony Stark announces, that he has just privatized world peace, you have to take his word for that. Iron Man becomes more of a deterrent than a combative force in the world political stage.
There is still a flirting relationship between Tony Stark and his trusted assisant, Pepper Pots(Gwyneth Paltrow), who are not yet romancing each other, but both have very strong emotions and feelings, which come out in scenes, like when Ms. Pots comes to know about Tony Stark's deteriorating health condition.
I was looking forward to Iron Man 2, as Robert Downey delighted us in this eccentric billionaire turned superhero role. He is more egotistic, more of a megalomaniac, drunk in his own power and also in high spirits. But, in Iron Man 2, the director and the producers lost the plot somewhere, in their efforts to make it bigger and grander. OK, Iron Man's strength has been displayed in abundance in the first movie. While the first one had better encounters between Iron Man and the opponent, here Iron Man gets into Transformers mode, as machines start fighting machines. Then, you have to sit and tolerate great CGI take over. But, you've seen this superlative stuff many times before...in many Hollywood movies. Machines chasing machine through the traffic, in the city skyline, through tunnels and over highways. But, what has been done needs to be watched.
My only grudge is that, they left THE gorgeous Scarlet Johansson till too much in the end for her magic to work, much like our Mumbai Indians team left Kieron Pollard to finish the work in recently concluded IPL finals. For some time, I thought...she almost didn't have any dialogues. The fireworks was on display and it was great while it lasted, but the movie got over, before you are satisfied. She teases Mr. Stark and the audience and her true identity is revealed much later. Among other things, I liked John Slattery appearing as Howard Stark in a video reel to inspire his son to take on the challenge. Much better than watching Rishi Kapoor and Rekha in B&W in Sadiyaan flashback.
Among the principal characters, Terrence Howard as Col James Rhodey Rhodes from Iron Man (1) is missed sorely. Don Cheadle finds it difficult to step into his shoes. He is not convincing enough and the chemistry between him and Tony Stark is just not visible. Director Jon Favreau puts in a cameo as Happy Hogan, Mr. Tony Stark's personal assistant as well as chauffeur. And of course, I couldn't miss all the Audi Cars in the movie. Must be great publicity for the car brand.
Now, with all questions about retirement and consulting offers coming in his way, will we get a new Tony Stark in Iron Man 3? I hope, not! And definitely, Ms. Johansson should be there in a promnent role. Are they already casting?