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'Iron Man' still manages to pack a punch Jeri Jacquin | Mon, May 10 2010 01:43 PM

Summer blockbusters kick off this week with the highly anticipated second installment in Marvel's "Iron Man" franchise.

This film tells the story of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his struggle with his dual ego. With the government on his back and the reactor arc becoming shaky, he appoints Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow) as CEO of Stark Enterprises. This means hiring a new assistant in the form of Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johannson).

Of course, it isn't long before a new group of enemies comes calling. The son of a Russian physicist who helped Stark's father create the arc, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), is whip-lashing for Stark. Scooping Ivan up for his own evil plans is Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who sees a way to stop Iron Man.

While everything is going full speed it is Lt. Col. Rhodes (Don Cheadle) who brings Stark, and Iron Man, down to Earth again by donning a suit of his own, Mark II. Just in time, too, as it all comes to a head at the Stark Expo.

Iron Man needs to regroup and trust those around him to stop the madness.

Final word: I was looking over my review of "Iron Man" from last year and I am afraid I will be repeating myself. Asking Robert Downey Jr. to be Tony Stark/ Iron Man was a stroke of genius. This time he is more ingrained into the role of good and evil - not just from the bad guys, but from himself. Don't worry; the cocky one-liners are in full swing.

Rourke, as Ivan Vanko, is freaky, scary and amazing to watch. It seems Rourke is finding a second life in film and this time as a Russian out for revenge.

Rockwell plays an arrogant villain, but honestly, he gets on my nerves, which might have been the point.

As per the last movie, the return of Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts is the cement that holds Stark together.

Johannson, as Rushman, is an interesting but grand choice. Playing the assistant to Stark with another side to her, she fits into the cast quite well.

Cheadle is one of my favorite actors and in this role he again reminds me why. He has a presence that is impossible to ignore and has the diversity in his acting to pull off anything. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury was also good casting.

Even director Jon Faverau managed to carve out a role for himself as that of Happy Hogan, Stark's chauffeur. Clark Gregg appears as Phil Coulson, the agent of SHIELD.

I have to admit I was a little worried how Faverau would manage to add so many characters, but he did it. There is action galore and a solid story, even if it does wane just a little in the middle. This has everything comic book fans are going to love.

Other cast members include: Gary Shandling as Senator Stern, Paul Bettany as Jarvis, John Slattery as Howard Stark, Kate Mara as a U.S. marshal, Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart, and Christiane Amanpour has a cameo as herself.

Creator Stan Lee began his career in the comic book industry at the young age of 17. In the 1960s, Lee's career took off as he became editor and publisher of the Marvel Comics group. Lee also had a cameo in the first "Iron Man," so keep your eyes open for him in "Iron Man 2."

Tubs of popcorn: I give "Iron Man 2" four tubs of popcorn out of five. There is no denying that this is going to be huge. Internationally, the film has already brought in $100 million. I think the U.S. can beat that.

The film itself is pumped up, which will get viewers equally as pumped.

I'm happy to say "Iron Man 2" stayed away from the 3-D concept, which will make it hugely more enjoyable.

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