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Iron Man 2


Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L Jackson, Garry Shandling, Jon Favreau, Leslie Bibb, Clark Gregg, Tim Guinee, Paul Bettany (voice)

Director: Jon Favreau

Unsurprisingly perhaps, this is a good notch below its predecessor, but still largely entertaining stuff, thanks in no small measure to the slightly offbeat personalities Downey and Paltrow bring to Tony Stark, inventor of the flying, firing Iron Man suit, and his no-nonsense PA Pepper Potts, who, to her great surprise, is suddenly elevated by Tony to chairman and CEO of Stark Industries.

What she doesn't know is that Stark is dying: the supply of palladium that keeps him alive is rendering his blood toxic and gradually killing him.

Meanwhile, in far-off Russia, a vengeful Ivan (a heavily tattooed Rourke), son of the man who was Stark's father's partner, but was subsequently discredited, is working on his own, very deadly version of the Iron Man suit.

Back in the US, success has gone somewhat to Tony's head (coupled with the fact that he knows his days are numbered), so he's not best pleased when the American military, aided by a smarmy senator (Shandling), an arms baron, Hammer (Rockwell), and, somewhat reluctantly, Tony's friend Rhody (Cheadle taking over Terrence Howard's old role) want him to hand over the Iron Man formula for their own purposes.

Thwarted in this, Hammer enlists the aid of Ivan, who has just destroyed most of the cars in the normally boring Monaco Grand Prix, in which Stark is improbably driving. And we forgot to mention Jackson, lurking beneath an eye patch, and a slinky Johansson, as an agent playing Guess whose side I'm on.

Cue much destruction of scenery, with glass a major casualty, as tin robots throw electricity around and generally bash the daylights out of one another.

The humour in the script, well handled by Downey, Paltrow, Rourke and Shandling, just about keeps the human element alive in this largely formula superhero pic. It's likely to get the thumbs down from most critics, though I fancy the public will answer with their feet, ensuring that Iron Man 3 takes off some time pretty soon.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Paramount. Technicolor.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 Apr 2010