I never thought I'd say it, but I really think it's true: The best part of Iron Man 2 is Gwyneth Paltrow.
That's a bit of a surprise, given that this franchise stars Robert Downey Jr. in all his snarky, scene-stealing, unabashed Downey-ness, and that this sequel features a highly-publicized, creepily sinister turn by Mickey Rourke (as the villain Whiplash)—to say nothing of the fact that, in the first film, Paltrow's role was fairly minor, serving more as a plot device than as a rounded character. She only has slightly more screen time here, yet her character, Pepper Potts, serves to summarize just about everything that's great about these two films—and the areas in which this sequel makes small strides forward from its predecessor.
Pepper is the personal assistant to Tony Stark (Downey), a cocky billionaire inventor who moonlights not-so-secretly-anymore as the world-saving techno-hero Iron Man. She's as close to Stark as he will allow her to be—which is to say, not very, but she knows him better than anyone, and for some reason, she still seems pretty nuts about the narcissistic jerk. There's always been romantic tension between the two, and here it bubbles over into some wickedly funny scenes in which the two of them play off each other with one deadpan barb after another. The sparks that fly in these scenes are the film's greatest special effect.
And that's saying something: This movie has a lot of cool CG work, and the action sequences are every bit as thrilling as those in the first. But the vigorous work between Paltrow and Downey emphasizes the greatest asset that this cast—and director Jon Favreau—brings to the Iron Man movies, and that's their childlike enthusiasm.
This franchise has never ...1
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Iron Man 2
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