I almost don’t feel like reviewing this, because there really isn’t much of a movie to review.

Not to say that it’s bad. But it isn’t particularly good, either. It’s just Robert Downey Jr being charming, and a whole lot of missed opportunity for drama.

One of the things that really worked for me in the first film was the simplicity. It was friendly to both nerds and normals alike, and was neither too continuity heavy nor too dumbed down. The sequel, however, is far from simple. But strangely, there still isn’t a lot going on.

Justin Theroux’s script is the obvious villain here, but who knows how many “Marvel Universe” elements he was contractually forced to cram in? Even so, couldn’t things have flowed together a little better? There’s a Russian villain in the movie, and a Russian spy. Coincidence? Yes! Couldn’t find a way to tie those together, somehow? Justin Hammer, an evil arms dealer, is trying to manipulate the government into stealing the Iron Man technology. Does he succeed? No. Jim Rhodes steals it because Tony gets too drunk at his own birthday party. Guess that’s the superhero way of taking the dude’s car keys. Mickey Rourke’s character seems to know that Tony Stark’s Arc Reactor is poisoning his blood. Will Tony be forced to conspire with his enemy, in an effort to find a cure? Nah. Nick Fury will stop by on his way to another film, and throw some knowledge his way.

I could go on, but you get the point. Speaking of the cure that he gets from his father; What the hell? I mean, I have a couple questions that need answering in regards to his secret model, and his relationship with Anton Vanko. Normally I don’t want to know too much backstory, but it’s the foundation of the entire conflict between Iron Man and Rourke. Maybe I just glossed it over; Vanko was too greedy, so Stark had him deported? Is that what happened? Also, wasn’t Howard Stark supposed to be a bit of a warmonger? When did he ret-con to some utopian idealist?

Jon Favreau’s greatest strength as a director seems to be in casting and working with actors, and that’s where the movie really shines. Robert Downey is, again, great. Sam Rockwell is a close second as Justin Hammer, who plays kind of a slimy, lame version of Tony Stark, with a Casey Kasem voice. And I’m always glad to see Clark Gregg. Everyone else is fine, with the exception of Jon Favreau. Dude, get the fuck out of your movies. Particularly fine is Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow; I almost feel like they should ugly her up in movies, because she gets downright distracting. Especially when she not only wears her skintight outfit into battle, but also when she goes to the donut shop. Possibly as a reminder to not overindulge.

The movie needs more action, straight up. There are three major set pieces, and one of them is a completely pointless and dramatically unsatisfying drunken brawl. Was that supposed to be Favreau’s two second homage to Demon In A Bottle? The last one has Stark and Rhodes fighting robots. Have the Star Wars Prequels taught us nothing?! Never have robots or clones as your antagonists; They’re boring as shit, and their “deaths” carry no weight. The first action scene of the movie involves a half-naked man, with no superpowers or defenses, attacking Tony Stark with lightning whips.

Lightning whips.

Despite being powerless, he somehow survives having his organs liquified by a merciless car crushing. Tough motherfucker, I guess. Point is, he could have been a pretty intimidating enemy, but he’s really not.

Granted, I’m sure some of this stuff will make more sense once I’ve seen Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and Iron Man 3, but ya’know what? Just tell a fucking story, ok? Again, I feel like just having a bunch of expository dialogue be the glue that holds your story together is lazy screenwriting.

Be sure to stay through the credits if you’re easily amused.

6 out of 10