Iron Man was an unexpected success in both popularity and in the Box Office and with the imminent release of Iron Man 2 anticipation is sky high for this superhero sequel. Thanks to Sky Movies HD, I was able to see it at the gala screening at Vue Westfield in London. Check out our entire coverage of it here.

Coming into seeing Iron Man 2 I was in buoyant mood and probably the most excited I’ve been in seeing a film this year and who could blame me with the addition of Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko -Whiplash, the most exciting and well cast villain in recent memory,  the genius that is Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer and the first look at James Rhodes ‘War Machine’, it has to be brilliant doesn’t it?

Iron Man 2 thankfully just about pulls it off, but only just. It’s a strangely paced film and suffers at times from incredibly long exposition and poorly contrived story lines that seem to be added to no doubt develop the Avengers storyline rather than the Iron Man 2 story that I wanted to see. You’ll see what I mean after about 4-5 scenes throughout littered with Shield/Avengers plot developments that all seemed horribly squeezed in to setup characters for a film that will happen in 2-3 years time.

However I’m happy to say that the rest of Iron Man was a pretty damn good ride, spectacular in places with awesome action set pieces and in general a whole lot of fun but not without some worryingly boring, pointless and highly confusing moments. Without giving away too many spoilers from the film, the story is of Tony Stark’s fight against The US governments attempt to obtain the suit for themselves for the military, Justin Hammer’s company developing their own suits to rival Iron Man, Ivan Vanko’s revenge mission on Stark as he claims his father was the one who designed the Arc Reactor Technology and that Tony’s father Howard Stark stole it from him which is all bundled together with the  plot of Tony’s Arc reactor which is keeping him alive is also poisoning him and he needs to find a solution, which comes in the most ridiculous and confusing way possible.

Needless to say there is a lot going on in its two hour running time with little weight given to each storyline which does hurt the movie but when the film focuses on Ivan Vanko and Tony Stark, Iron Man 2 presses all the right buttons. Mickey Rourke is truly outstanding as the villain and is the perfect foil to Stark’s egotistical superhero and their scenes together are the best of the film, particularly their first meeting on the race track where Tony Stark grabs the suitcase that turns into his modified portable Iron Man suit which is just awesome and leads into one of the best scenes of the film that satisfies completely.

It’s a shame Terrence Howard didn’t make it to the sequel as Don Cheadle had to make the character of James Rhodes his own which is difficult when every other character is set into there original roles but Cheadle does pretty well and when he takes the Iron Man War Machine suit for himself we witness a superb battle between a drunken Stark and Rhodes that helps you get over the actor change pretty quickly and when they team up again for a pretty anti-climatic battle against Whiplash the two have some pretty decent banter gong on.

Sam Rockwell puts in a great subtle comedic turn as Justin Hammer and definitely has a part to play in the planned third film, Scarlett Johansson was pretty average and forgettable in her role of Black Widow, again used to beef up the Avengers movie and Gwyneth Paltrow plays her part nicely as she did in the first movie which is nothing special but this is clearly Rourke and Downey Jr’s film and together they do make Iron Man 2 worth a watch.

Overall, I don’t think Iron Man 2 is anywhere near as good as the first film, It’s let down by the amount it’s trying to squeeze in to the movie with the Avengers story and all the new additional characters but overall it’s certainly going to please some but will equally bemuse others.

Iron Man 2 is released April 30th in the UK and 7th May in the US.