Early reviews of Iron Man 2 are out, and the trades are calling it a muddled, barely watchable mess. But bloggers are full of praise for a multi-layered sequel. Here's our review roundup, with minor spoilers.
The Mirror appears to be the first critic to dismantle the Iron Man sequel with a crowbar, but the British tabloid certainly wasn't the last. Says the Mirror:
Iron Man 2 is a travesty – a mind-numbingly dull, chaotic and often unwatchable muddle. It might even be the ultimate masterclass in how not to make a movie.
The Hollywood Reporter says Iron Man has been downgraded to the Tin Man:
Well, that didn't take long. Everything fun and terrific about "Iron Man," a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel....For a film riding a wave of unbridled achievement from its predecessor, "Iron Man 2" begins with a curious sense of panic. Characters all talk at once. Hesitant story lines launch in all directions. The soundtrack and music clang away, but onscreen little happens until a big set-piece at a Grand Prix race nearly 20 minutes into the movie.
Variety seemed to enjoy the film despite some reservations about muddled plots and bad pacing:
"Iron Man 2" isn't as much fun as its predecessor, but by the time the smoke clears, it'll do... While the first go-round for this lesser-known Marvel hero benefited from its freshness and visual flair, the beats here are more familiar, the pacing more uneven. Given the demand, though, that will hardly matter, and this armored adventure promises to be a money-making machine that clicks on all cylinders.
But many other reviews are defending the filmHitFix states that Iron Man 2 doesn't need to explain itself, and calls the sequel Favreau's "Victory Lap":
"Iron Man 2" is, in every possible way, issue two of a comic book. It doesn't have to spend time setting up the origin of the character, and it doesn't feel the need to resolve every single story thread introduced in this one film. There's a sense that everyone's settling into this series and thinking big..... It's a fascinating gamble, and I talked to people after the film who were just annoyed by the whole thing, but I think it's like watching part of a big, crazy mini-series. I don't feel cheated at all by these clues [references to Thor and Cap]. "Iron Man 2″ works as a complete film without any of these "Avengers"-oriented moments, but they add to the overall texture of the piece in some really rewarding ways.
Coming Soon.net is also quick to defend Iron Man 2 from the cynics:
While "Iron Man 2" successfully conveys the tone and the momentum from the first movie, the sequel factor is unfortunately going to make it far too easy for the critical to turn cynical on that basis alone....The character development in the movie is top-notch, similar to "Spider-Man 2" in the way it doesn't merely fall back on what worked in the first movie, instead instilling real personal conflicts into the mix. In this case, it's the fact that Stark has essentially been poisoning himself with the technology he needs to survive, which has him acting more erratically than normal, his relationships with his closest confidantes, Pepper Potts and James Rhodes, also changing dramatically because of it.
Empire Magazine gave it 3 out of 5 stars and struggled with the pace and structure, but still praised it:
Rourke and Rockwell make satisfying, complementary villains, while Downey Jr. delivers again. Shame this sequel feels inessential, over-busy and a little, well, mechanical. Nothing they can't put right for Iron Man 3.
And Harry at Ain't It Cool News scream types...
I FUCKING LOVE THE ACTION of the film. I love that this is full on Marvel Science Fiction. The entire last act just fucking rocks balls!
The early review split feels a bit similar to Watchmen, which got savaged in the trades and early newspaper reviews, but got positive or respectful reviews from bloggers.