Robert Downey Jr. Is Back In 'Iron Man 2'

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Iron Man 2 kicks off what Hollywood hopes will be a lucrative summer movie season. Robert Downey Jr. stars as affable billionaire Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man. The first film earned $585 million at the box office worldwide.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The genius inventor and billionaire Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, is back on screen, because his first film took in more than a half billion dollars worldwide. Once a film makes that kind of money, it's only a matter of time before the sequel arrives. Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN: As sequels go, "Iron Man 2" is acceptable. Star Robert Downey, Jr. and director Jon Favreau are back in the fold.

(Soundbite of movie, "Iron Man 2")

Mr. ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. (Actor): (as Tony Stark) Oh, it's good to be back.

TURAN: The result is a haphazard film thrown together by talented people with all the pluses and minuses that implies.

To recap for those coming in late, billionaire Tony Stark's exploits inside the all-powerful Iron Man suit have brought a welcome calm to the world. Not one to hide his light under a bushel - or anything else, for that matter - Stark likes to say things like: I have successfully privatized world peace.

Clearly, this is one ego that's cruising for a bruising, and that bruising comes at the hands of Mickey Rourke, who looks like he's having the time of his life as Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash.

(Soundbite of movie, "Iron Man 2")

Mr. MICKEY ROURKE (Actor): (as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash) There will be blood in the water.

TURAN: He's a disenchanted Russian with a family grudge against Stark, as well as the ability to come up with a suit of his own to challenge our hero for world domination.

(Soundbite of movie, "Iron Man 2")

(Soundbite of music, electrical static)

Rourke's Vanko may look like a doorman at a bondage club when he gets into his whiplash costume, but once he cracks those devastating whips, the film takes advantage of his electricity. Whether chewing on a toothpick, cozying up to his parrot or displaying more tattoos than the entire Russian mafia, Vanko is always worth paying attention to.

(Soundbite of movie, "Iron Man 2")

Mr. ROURKE: (as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash) You come from a family of thieves and butchers. And now, like all guilty men, you try to rewrite your own history.

TURAN: Aside from that first fight, the battles in "Iron Man 2" are strictly pro forma, even though they employed effects houses without number and no doubt cost the Earth. The main reason they exist is to feed the frenzy of the fan boy base that delights in all things related to Marvel Comics. If you're outside the sacred circle, however, all that noise will make you want to hide inside an Iron Man suit of your own.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for The Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION. And you can read more movie reviews at our Web site: npr.org.

A story we aired on Wednesday about cell phones in horror movies used a variety of film clips. The selection of those clips was influenced by an online audio/video montage of movie clips produced by Rich Juzwiak(ph). Our story didn't adequately credit Mr. Juzwiak for his work.

And we turn now to Broadway, where YouTube videos are popping up. Two recently opened shows combined traditional stage performances with the popular video site. In "Sondheim on Sondheim," a multimedia tribute to composer Stephen Sondheim, part of the performance is a YouTube video montage featuring a variety of artists singing "Send in the Clowns." They include Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand and Patti LaBelle.

And the show "Everyday Rapture" features Broadway star Sherie Rene Scott playing herself and identifying with a 15-year-old fan. She discovers the fan in a video he posted of himself, singing one of Scott's biggest Broadway hits, "My Strongest Suit" from "Aida."

(Soundbite of song, "My Strongest Suit")

Ms. SHERIE RENE SCOTT (Broadway star): My strongest suit. Overwear. Underwear. Anytime. Anywhere. Staying in or hitting town-wards, from the top and working downwards.

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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