Officially kicking off this summer’s blockbuster season, “Iron Man 2” brings the metal-crunching action, the critically acclaimed A-listers, the scantily clad women, the eye-defying special effects and the AC/DC-soaked soundtrack. That’s exactly what we expected from the trailer and that’s exactly what we got in the movie. Very little about this film stands out; sometimes this film feels like a carbon copy of
the first installment. Even more narcissistic and sarcastic than before, billionaire playboy Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has successfully privatized world peace with his Iron Man contraption, acerbically refusing to hand the suit over to the ever-so-eager U.S. military. However, little does Stark know that the son of his father’s exiled Russian partner, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), has other plans for Stark when he shows up at the Monaco Grand Prix with his own version of the Iron Man’s technology plus electrified
whips. Proving that Iron Man is in fact not invincible, Stark encounters problems from the U.S. government along with Stark Industries competitor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who will do anything to get a chance to take down his rival. Along with some weighty internal and emotional decisions to make, Stark definitely has his hands full. Hopefully, Jarvis and Pepper Potts can steer him right. “Iron Man 2” excels in the badass-ery department, with lots of cool guys not looking at explosions, expensive rides being cut in half and, of course, enough cleavage to make Hugh Hefner blush. However, the film builds up intensity and expectation for a massive confrontation, but ultimately lets us down with a swift and anticlimactic brawl. Vanko, for instance, who is a merciless killer seeking revenge for his recently deceased father, does not deliver the magnitude or excitement of a supervillain fight scene that we’d anticipate. Another disappointment is the strange decision to recast the role of Stark’s longtime friend Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, who failed to add much of anything to the story. Originally played by Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle takes the reins in a cheesy manner, plaguing the character with unnecessary one-liners and eyebrow raises. I hope director Jon Favreau doesn’t really believe that we don’t notice the swap, because we can’t tell one black guy from another. Howard brought trust, naivety, and authority to Rhodes’ character, which Cheadle, who is admittedly an amazing actor, just can’t grasp in this role. Go see this movie: It may be unoriginal, shallow and completely expected, but if it’s nostalgia for Stark’s snarky egoism and well-trimmed goatee that you crave, this kickoff to movie/sequel season will do it for you. If this doesn’t sell you, here are two words that will entice you into the theatre: Scarlett. Johansson. You’re welcome. P.S.: Make sure to stay after the credits for another “Avengers” teaser.