Hollywood Movie Roundup: The New Iron Age


Stand clear everyone, the big guy has landed and the only ones brave enough to share the same weekend are a bunch of babies. Hollywood’s Summer season has officially arrived in the form of one of the most highly anticipated sequels ever.


Director Jon Favreau returns with star Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, the man in the iron suit. Also returning are Gwyneth Paltrow and, in an expanded role, Samuel L. Jackson. Mickey Rourke and Scarlett Johansson join the cast, and Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard, sending the star power even farther into orbit. Actor-writer Justin Theroux (“Mulholland Drive” as the former, “Tropic Thunder” as the latter) wrote the screenplay.

The first “Iron Man’s” surprising success has left it little room to catch anyone off-guard and that’s clear in the reviews. Critics across the board are saying the film is more (in some cases, much more) of the same yet falls short of its predecessor. The only variance comes in the degree to which the embrace the “more.” The biggest fans, such as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, hail Downey’s performance. A little less enthusiastic are Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, who faults the movie for being “more about iron than men,” and  A.O. Scott of the New York Times, writing that “you’re left wanting more, but not quite the ‘more’ ‘Iron Man 2′ works so hard to supply.”

There are no contenders or pretenders to the box office crown this week, which IM2 was fitted for the moment Paramount placed it on the release schedule. The only real competition is with “The Dark Knight” and its record $158.4 million opening in 2008. IM2 opens on more screens than any movie in history and prognosticators have it pulling in between $140 and $160 million, even without the higher ticket prices it would have commanded had it been released in 3D. It opened last week in some overseas markets and may top the $300m mark globally by Sunday. The only other film opening on more than 500 screens is Focus Features’ documentary “Babies,” that follows four newborns from different parts of the world (Namibia, Mongolia, Japan, San Francisco) until they take their first steps. True counter-programming.


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