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"Iron Man 2"

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Hear ye, hear ye! The FIRST of this summer's blockbuster movies has arrived! "Iron Man 2," the sequel to 2008's surprise summer hit, "Iron Man," opened across the country this past weekend. For those who just could NOT wait, the Roxy actually had a special midnight showing Thursday night. "Iron Man 2" continues where the first one left off, beginning by replaying the "breaking news" conference where gazillionaire Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) announced to the world that HE IS, in fact, Iron Man. Downey Jr., one of Hollywood's most gifted actors who hopefully has won in his long and well-chronicled personal battle over drug addiction, once again is spot-on playing the super-intelligent, yet supremely egotistical head of Stark Industries. At one point in the movie he boldly states in front of a Senate hearing (and to the world) that HE ALONE has helped the world have prolonged peace.

Besides having the obligatory "bad guy" that Iron Man must defeat, Mr. Stark is being coerced by the U.S. Government (and military) to turn over his "Iron-Man weapon." Stark argues that he himself is part and parcel with the "suit" and that the U.S. Government cannot have HIM! A very heated exchange occurs between Mr. Stark and a U.S. Senator, brilliantly played by none other than funny man Garry Shandling. Shandling gives a great performance as the Senator you love to hate. Stark also has an ongoing battle, intellectual and business-wise, with competing industrialist Justin Hammer. Hammer is played by one of the most versatile (and in my opinion one of the most unsung) actors in Hollywood, Sam Rockwell. Rockwell has many film credits on his resume, and has been in some big Hollywood "blockbusters" from "The Green Mile" to last year's surprise hit "Frost/Nixon," but a majority of his screen appearances are of the small budget variety, such as the Chuck Barris (of Gong-Show fame) biopic "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" and last year's Oscar-snubbed "Moon," written and directed by Duncan Jones a.k.a. Zowie Bowie (son of Hall of Fame rocker David Bowie). But Iron Man's main nemesis this time around is Russian Ivan Vanko, played by veteran actor Mickey Rourke, Rourke's acting career had been "on life support" until his brilliant, Oscar nominated performance in 2008's "The Wrestler" brought him "back to life" in the acting circles of Hollywood. (And if you did not yet see "The Wrestler", then PLEASE grab it the next time you step inside Family Video... it can probably be found by now in the $1 section!). Rourke is very good in his role as the son of a Russian scientist who had previously been in the elder Mr. Stark's employ. Tony Stark himself was unfamiliar with this scientist or his son, and is unaware that Ivan has a score to settle with both Tony Stark AND Iron Man!

I would be remiss if I did not mention the fine job the ladies did in this film. Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Tony Stark's personal assistant, Pepper Potts. Ms. Potts, as you will see early on in the movie, is in store for a bit of a "promotion" from what her current job description dictates. There may even be a "promotion" in her and Stark's personal status. Another fine performance from the fairer sex (and quite fair she is) was turned in by Scarlett Johansson. She plays the role of "Black Widow." Is she here to help or hurt Iron Man's cause??? You are going to have to go see the movie for the answer to that question!

Overall, I think "Iron man 2" has successfully kicked off the 2010 summer movie season! And I cannot wait to see some of the other upcoming attractions. Come back next week for what I predict to be another summer blockbuster, "Robin Hood."  Doc's advice for this film:  3 eyeballs

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