There are no spoilers in this review!
The (from what I can tell, substantiated) rumour from the first Ironman movie was that they didn’t really have a script; they made it up as they went along, and that worked out very well for them. Too well, because it appeared that they attempted to do the same again, and in the absence of a compelling origin story, just didn’t have enough plot to sustain the movie.
I do have to say that I enjoyed the movie overall – I don’t think I had any expectations beyond the shiny technological eye-candy and big summer-movie explosions, so I went in with my brain turned off. This was apparently the correct approach, because I looked over at my wife while the credits were rolling and we were waiting for the end scene (we are those few that actually stay and read the credits anyway, but if you’re in the other camp, you’ll want to hang out until the credits are done (remember the after-the-credits scene from the first one? (hmmm, is this review getting too parenthetical?))) and she had a slight frown on her face and she shook her head slightly…a clear indication of too much thinking during the movie – not always a bad thing, except in summer popcorn movies, and especially in sequels of said movies.
The main problem with the movie was that the plot complications were too easily solved – you never felt that there was anything big at stake – and the obligatory scenes of Tony Stark building something just didn’t come close to the original building of the suit in the first movie. I did feel that the ending of the first movie lacked something with the whole the-weakened-hero-wins-anyway, so I was glad to see they didn’t fall into any traps of repeating themselves here, but it did seem a little too easy. Oh, and three words: “convenient unmentioned upgrades”.
A quick word too about the tech: there was some seriously cool stuff in here (Tony’s PDA during the senate hearing scene), but in the first movie, JARVIS and the UI he had in his house for R&D, etc seemed believable: you could see some of that becoming reality sometime soon. The interface he used where his motions manipulated a 3D projection was pretty fantastical, but stuff like that is coming, and they helped it to be believable by limiting it to a particular work area. In this one, the projections filled the room but were still easily manipulated. And for me it wasn’t that something like that couldn’t ever exist, or that my suspension of disbelief just couldn’t deal, it was more as if they didn’t really put any thought beforehand into how the system worked. It was as though the director said what he wanted, the CG team came up with something cool, and then they told the actor what to do so it didn’t look completely silly (oh so close!).
Overall a fun ride, but definitely summer popcorn movie: turn your brain off and just go for the eye-candy. With that trip to the theater now costing $21 for two tickets, this was one for which I could have happily waited for the DVD.