‘Iron Man 2′: The Reviews Are In!

While some critics prefer the original, others say the sequel tops it.

Two years after [movie id="302714"]“Iron Man”[/movie] blasted its way to near-universal critical praise and fanboy worship — and, oh yeah, $585 million in worldwide box-office sales — Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau are back to do it all again. Their task (to win both unanimous adoration and boatloads of cash) is one that even Tony Stark himself might find a bit daunting.

We already know [movie id="390378"]“Iron Man 2″[/movie] is going to do mega-business (early tracking has suggested it might have the biggest opening weekend in history ), but the critical reception is another thing entirely.

In short, opinions are split. To some, “Iron Man 2″ is a worthy (if not necessarily better) successor to the original, while others say the film sputters and crashes like a damaged metal super-suit. Let’s take a deeper dive into the critics’ reviews and see what folks have to say.

Chris Vognar of The Dallas Morning News calls the movie a “bigger, louder but not better sequel to the 2008 smash hit.” He goes on to write, “Not better but pretty good nonetheless. Robert Downey Jr. is still born to play Tony Stark, the megabucks arms dealer-turned-hero. His mix of cocksure hubris and vulnerability goes a long way toward mitigating the more nonsensical plot elements, of which there are many.”

Joining Downey are a collection of new and familiar faces, including Gwyneth Paltrow as trusty Pepper Potts, Mickey Rourke as the nefarious Ivan Vanko, Sam Rockwell as rival arms dealer Justin Hammer and Scarlett Johansson as the undercover Black Widow. Writing in the San Jose Mercury News, Randy Meyers welcomes the fresh ensemble cast. “Director Jon Favreau smartly pumps up the bad-boy role of tattooed physicist Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, a decision that provides the spark plug the franchise needs,” Meyers declares. “Mickey Rourke (‘The Wrestler’) plays the freak-show part perfectly, adopting a thick-as-the-tundra Russian accent and showcasing a muscled torso that seems to bristle with hatred for Tony Stark. The most exciting sequence comes when Ivan, looking like he scavenged the ‘Waterworld’ set for his costume and hairstyle, unleashes his wrath by donning a funky electric suit and wreaking havoc during the Grand Prix in Monaco.”

While almost all the critics have singled out that scene for praise, the rest of the action sequences left many underwhelmed. “The endless smackdowns, super-chases and general incendiary pandemonium start to grind us down — it feels like we’re watching “Transformers 3″ — and we soon realize that fight scenes involving faceless actors in big titanium battle suits sound like nothing so much as a multi-kettle kitchen accident,” writes MTV News’ own Kurt Loder .

And what are the fanboys saying? For the most part, they’re satisfied, if not giddy. “Favreau accomplishes something quite special with ‘Iron Man 2,’ ” writes Neil Miller on FilmSchoolRejects.com. “Avoiding the pratfalls of sequelitis and simultaneously building a bridge for Marvel to cross over to ‘The Avengers.’ … When ‘Iron Man 2′ doesn’t work, it is still enjoyable. And when it is working — which is more often than not — it works on a level that far exceeds that of the first film. It is an intense ride, full of fun performances, that works hard through its problems to earn the ‘must-see’ tag.”

We’ll give the final word to Josh Tyler of CinemaBlend.com: “Favreau and his group have so much fun with these characters and this world that even when the pieces don’t fit together you’ll probably be carried right along with them anyway. It works better as a character ensemble than an action movie, and that ensemble is uncannily strong. And when it does get around to action, it’s far more consistent than anything we saw in the last film. … ‘Iron Man 2′ maintains a consistent and even keel throughout. It’s never as exhilarating as the first ‘Iron Man’ is at its best but also never as ordinary as the first ‘Iron Man’ was at its worst. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff.”

Have you seen “Iron Man 2″ yet? What’s your review? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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