The first wave of Iron Man 2 reviews have arrived on the internet and the reaction is… strange. Though the film currently holds an 82% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 17 of the 20 reviews there listed as fresh, a closer examination of what most of these critics are saying reveals something else: disappointment.
If you read through all of those reviews you’ll discover conflicted critics, most of whom seem to be zeroed in on the same, specific problems over and over again. Most reviewers seem to think the film is wildly uneven and too light on action. They say that keeps it from being as much fun as the first one, though I wonder how long it’s been since they saw the first one. Much as I love the original Iron Man it’s also wildly uneven and, to be frank, kind of light on action too. The first act of the film is a blast but that final act never really takes off and zooms into the stratosphere the way it should have. To me the things most of these critics complain about are the very same things that didn’t work in the first one. And the first one, in spite of those things, was a lot of fun.
Below is a quick sampling of some of the key opinions floating around out there in the critical consensus. For reasons we haven’t quite figured out yet, even though the movie opens overseas this Friday, Paramount’s making Cinema Blend’s team wait until next week to see it. That’s alright, Iron Man is worth the wait. As soon as we see it, we’ll hit you with our official reviews. Until then, here’s a look what those lucky few early reviewers are saying:
“It may be hard for anyone to claim that "Iron Man 2" is nearly as mindblowingly amazing as the first movie was for its time, though it's still better than 95% of the movies based on Marvel Comics characters. Favreau clearly knows how to make a fun and entertaining summer movie, and the clever introduction of new characters and the masterfully-realized action scenes should make up for the film's dialogue-heavy lulls. High expectations from the first movie may leave some wanting, but there's enough brilliance on display to leave you wanting more as well.” - Ed Douglas, Coming Soon
"For those who believe that sequels are either wildly successful or massively disastrous, Jon Favreau may have found a solid middle ground with his ''Iron Man 2'' flick. As empty an opening sentence as that may be, it's fitting for a film that packed ample entertainment but perhaps a little less punch than many would be expecting from a Marvel picture." - Davin Sgargetta, Moviehole
“Rourke and Rockwell make satisfying, complementary villains, while Downey Jr. delivers again. Shame this sequel feels inessential, over-busy and a little, well, mechanical.” - Nick de Semlyen, Empire
“Everything fun and terrific about "Iron Man," a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel. In its place, "Iron Man 2" has substituted noise, confusion, multiple villains, irrelevant stunts and misguided story lines.” - Kirk Honeycutt, THR
“Despite its shortcomings, Iron Man 2 is one helluva good time. It may not have the most polished delivery in terms of story, but for the most part it attains its many narrative goals. It has fun action set-pieces, an intriguing central dilemma for its main protagonist, and a pair of compelling villains. The original film had a novelty to it that simply can't be replicated, but as far as comic book movie sequels go Iron Man 2 is a cut above most and one gloriously fun set-up for The Avengers. 2012 – the end of the world aside – can't come fast enough.” - Jim Vejvoda, IGN
“I loved IRON MAN 2 for what it was. But I have a sneaking suspicion some will be left disappointed if they are expecting something else. I will caution those going to see it for the first time, this will not necessarily be the movie you expect to see. The action and effects are great, but this is about the breakdown of the IRON MAN regulars, and exactly how they will keep things together and move on in the future. And yes, Favreau did his part and made a very satisfying sequel for those looking to expand their idea of a superhero flick.” - Jimmy O, JoBlo.com
“‘Iron Man 2’ is a lot of fun: it’s shiny, likeable and never boring. But it’s also wildly uneven and unnecessarily convoluted, leaving the viewer unsatisfied and hungry for something more substantial. Let’s hope a promised third instalment can fulfil the series’ undeniable potential.” - Tom Huddleston, Time Out
“This'll be remembered as the time Jon Favreau not only killed the goose that laid the golden eggs, but plucked it, roasted it, ate it with two veg and gravy, then burped in fans' faces for two hours straight.” - News of the World