Radio 05.07.10
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on “Iron Man 2,” opening today at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
The sequel has a lot to live up to:  the original featured a great story line, inspired casting, a glossy high-tech screenplay, and a hint of romance, a formula for success that rocketed the comic-book drama to megahit status.
Robert Downey Jr. returns as the superhero with the cavalier attitude, the rockets on his feet, and the almost-indestructible iron jumpsuit.  He doesn’t naturally possess superpowers; he just enjoys the unique technology of his personally-invented Iron Man regalia, including night vision, computer-enhanced visual images, advanced weaponry, stunning strength and awesome speed.  In fact, he’s so effective that he’s become complacent.  The grateful country, suddenly freed of terrorist threat, gleefully endows our superhero with instant celebrity, and he (Tony Stark, mild-mannered electrical engineer and inheritor of a vast electronics empire), simply revels in the attention.  He’s smart, funny, P.R.-savvy, and confident to the point of arrogant.  He swaggers his way through Senate hearings.  (They want the technology he developed and exclusively possesses, but he refuses to give it to them.)  He’s self-indulgent to the point of impulsively deciding to drive his own race car in Monaco (not to mention leering at female subordinates).  And, he’s secretly suffering health problems because of a toxic special formula he has to ingest to maintain his internal power source.  Of course we all know how well Robert Downey, Jr. does the cocky dissolute.  He himself says that it’s familiar territory to him.  Besides, we like our heroes just a little quirky and vulnerable.
Of course we have to have a bad guy, and here we enjoy the luxury of both the mad genius (Sam Rockwall as Justin Hammer) and the mean-spirited thug (Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko), who doubly intimidates by conveniently doubling as a mad genius himself, spurred by revenge.  All we need now is a beautiful young woman in tight lycra who can act a little---let’s see, how about Scarlett Johannson?  Throw in a one-eyed intimidating good guy (Samuel L. Jackson), just a little taste of unrequited  romance (thanks for the continuity, Gwyneth Paltrow), and finally, a friend who accidentally plays more like a foe (Don Cheadle) and you have all the ingredients for a crackling-fun action/adventure.  And, mostly, it delivers just what it promises.  But just as the character of Tony Stark takes a while to move out of his funk and swing back into action, so this film starts off slowly and takes its time getting off the ground (excuse us while we rapidly dispatch our brilliant lab work).  Yes, in the end, we know our hero is finally going to prevail.  But the battleground is as much computer systems, laser technology, and copyright infringement as it is kung-fu in the hallway (though traditionalists will enjoy the bloodless hand-to-hand combat sequences, as well). 
Though “Ironman 2” takes a while to build up steam, it’s still a happy confluence of CGI wizardry, stellar casting, discernible story line, and credible performances.
And that winning combination will always sell some movie tickets.
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM