I know, I know, I should be ashamed of myself for not seeing this one sooner, but life happens. Thanks to a friend's Netflix subscription, I was finally able to see Iron Man 2.
The story for Iron Man 2 takes place about a year or so after the events of the first Iron Man film. Tony Stark/Iron Man, played once again by the brilliantly cast Robert Downey Jr., has pretty much single-handedly made world peace because nobody wants to come to blows with him and the Mark 3 Iron Man suit. However, the suit that's keeping him alive is also slowly killing him due to the toxicity in the element used to power Tony's super-pacemaker. It turns out that the original designs from his father weren't entirely his own, but shared with a Russian scientist and when Tony's father had the Russian deported, the Russian raised his son in a vodka filled rage. Fully grown and finally having the means to exact revenge, his son (also a scientist, played by Mickey Rourke), builds a similar technology to combat Tony's Iron Man suit.
First off, the casting. Many familiar faces return with the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow & Jon Faverau, but we see some new ones as Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard as Col. James "Rhoady" Rhodes and Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff aka The Black Widow which was...well...daaaammmmnnnnn. I don't feel there was a single dull performance in this movie, but then again in order for this film to maintain the thunder from the first, it would've had to lack dull performances. In all honesty, one of the most fun characters to watch in this film was Sam Rockwell as Justin "Jack" Hammer. He was such an arrogant suit toting douchebag that he was just so lovably hate-able that I looked forward to seeing him onscreen. Also, I don't know what everyone was complaining about, Mickey Rourke's Russian accent didn't seem THAT bad.
The overall pacing of this movie worked well because there weren't any parts that dragged and nothing felt too rushed either. Unlike the first one, there's more scenes that are either action packed or visually appealing in with the dialogue scenes, but one doesn't wash out the other, which is impressive because the film pays homage to an old arc in the comics called "Demon In The Bottle" where Tony can't control his drinking and the last half an hour or so of this film was absolutely insane and kept me on the edge of the couch. In the action department, Iron Man 2 topped the first film.
Watching ScarJo beat the tar out of a bunch of guards is the most arousing action scene I've ever witnessed. I hope she gets more roles like this.
That being said, I wouldn't necessarily go so far to say Iron Man 2 completely surpasses its predecessor. Probably on par at best. I'm not entirely sure why, but then again, it has been quite some time since I've seen the first Iron Man film so perhaps I should watch the two back to back and see how they compare. My final thoughts on the film would be if you're interested in seeing The Avengers next year and if you haven't seen this one yet, you might want to look into it for the full experience. That, and if you're familiar with The Avengers, the trademark weapons of two Avengers make cameo appearances in this film. All in all, Iron Man 2 was a damn fun movie and maybe I should have seen it before, but I'm glad I finally have this one off the "To Watch" list, for it was on there for too long.