iron_man_web.jpgBefore I watched the Iron Man sequel, I did something that I never do:  Read a review of the film.  While under the dryer at the beauty salon last week, I couldn’t help reading what Lisa Schwarzbaum (my favorite film critic), had to say about Iron Man 2 in my latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.  I usually agree with her assessments, but this time around, I am inclined to disagree with her C+ rating of Iron Man 2.

In the latest Iron Man, screenwriter Justin Theroux (who is also an actor and director) created a film about what happens after Iron Man, a.k.a. Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) reveals his identity as the super hero.  The U.S. government is trying to force Tony to hand over his suit and, of course, he declines, because — he says — he is the suit.

Meanwhile, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), are getting some time in the spotlight as recruiters for the Avengers.  And, so that there would be a baddie quotient, Theroux threw in Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke).  Ivan is super huge and super bad — the classic villain.

By the way, The Avengers plotline will be more rounded out once Captain America and Thor make their rounds on the big screen.  Look for The Avengers movie in May 2012.

Jon Favreau pulls double duty as director and Iron Man’s driver, Happy Hogan.  I have to give Favreau his props for such a visually appealing backdrop, with locations in Monaco, Malibu, the Mojave Desert and even Queens, NY.

Downey as Iron Man brings his winking charm to the character and has managed to make Tony Stark even more interesting.  He’s entertaining and engaging. 

Rourke’s Ivan is scary good at what he does with the role.  With an enemy like Ivan, Tony really has his hands full.  Ivan makes a formidable foe.  Rourke is still having an amazing comeback.

Don Cheadle, taking over Terrence Howard’s role as Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, puts a mature voice into Tony’s ear.  He’s the voice of pure reason to Tony’s destructive nature.  Speaking of destruction, I can kind of see what Schwarzbaum was saying about the action, because a lot of things get destroyed in this film.  But, it’s all in good fun; so I won’t rant about the amount of costly damage wreaked in this work.

Johansson is superb as the heroine of the group.  Her Romanoff’s moves alone are stunning.  We need more action heroines like her. 

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts gets to have more of a back bone in this film and it’s refreshing.  It’s great to see her step out of Tony’s shadow and come into her own. 

Jackson’s Fury is the requisite sagely master, with his cool-as-a- cucumber tact and his way of saying serious things with the slightest twinkle in his eyes.  If you’re not looking closely enough at him, you’ll miss it.  He makes Nick Fury approachable, despite that eye patch.  I love it!

One of Schwarzbaum’s major issues with the film is that there was so much action that it encompassed the film. She’s right. There’s plenty of it, but I wasn’t inundated by it.

All in all, Theroux, Favreau, and company have managed to craft a film that is quite pleasing to the eye. 

Fortunately, the film was made before 3D became the “it” thing to do. There’s so much action, Iron Man 2 does not need 3D glasses to still be spectacular.