Robert Downey Jr has kicked another goal under the smart and savvy direction of Jon Favreau.

As Homer Simpson would say – it’s groin-grabbingly good.

The sequel can never produce the same feeling in us as the first film.  But it does succeed in giving us more if what we liked first time round.

The key element motivating everything is Tony Stark’s privatization of peace.  Tony is, in effect, portrayed as a good guy but the phrase itself ‘privatization of peace’ wreaks of dishonest capitalism gone mad.  He’s a selfish capitalist pig with his technology – reminding me of a self-interested pharmaceutical company with the cure for cancer who holds it back from the public because they’re still figuring out how to maximise profits from distribution.  But let’s not get on that bus right now when there are more important things at stake – like a sequel to review!

Scarlett Johansson (pronounced with a hard ‘J’ – not a soft one) did a good job with what could have been a barrel girl role.  While she might be consistently beautiful, her acting performances have been as inconsistent as Marilyn Monroe’s.  This may be a deliberate move on her part.  But she goes good in this movie both as a brunette and as a cool action heroine with super skills.

Mickey Rourke is well-cast as the wounded Russian villain and looks like he bypassed the wardrobe department altogether and just rocked up to set ready for action.  The only time I questioned Fav’s direction was when Mickey had to scream.  He found it hard to open his mouth wide enough.  It was like watching Whitney Huston trying to reach one of her legendary high notes.

RDJ proved once again he’s just as much fun out of the Iron Man suit as he is in it.  There’s a pre-rehab party sequence that is a lot of fun.  Seeing Iron Man drunk and out of control is like a slowly unfolding car accident – Hollywood style.

Nice ref to Terrence Howard’s role of Rhodey being played by Don Cheadle.  Gary Shandling makes an intriguing appearance – peeking over a more than ample second chin that did not look to be prosthetic.  (I’ve heard of people growing second heads – but second necks?  Since when does one head need two necks to support it?)

Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Pepper Potts – less of a PA this time and more of a CEO.  But the whinging was a bit too amped up.  I liked her better when she didn’t spin out so much.

Samuel L Jackson can really do something with the role of Nick Fury but didn’t have enough screen time to do it – maybe we’ll see more of him in Iron Man 3.

We did get to see more of Favreau acting which I liked because I love him.  (remember Made with Vince Vaughan?  Not a huge film but I liked it a lot.)

There’s a restrained use of CGI – good.  I didn’t want to see Favs make the fatal sequelitis mistake of breaching the SFX salary cap.  He really did focus on story.

The stand-out performance has to be Sam Rockwell as another billionaire industrialist – Justin Hammer.  He gets the lion’s share of funny lines from Justin Theroux’s script (one of the Tropic Thunder writers).  I’ll say it again – Rockwell was robbed of a Best Actor Oscar nom this year for his role in Moon.  But it seems it’s only a matter of time before this guy – and Robert Downey Jr too – will be waving a gold statue from the most important stage in Hollywood.

So does Iron Man 2 meet the expectations created by Iron Man 1?

Pretty much – yes.

It’s important to remember that seeing and loving Iron Man 1 is a both a blessing and a curse to seeing Iron Man 2.

It is a comedy.  And laugh I did.  A lot.

(Love to get my hands on one of the Iron Man suits and have a go.)