It makes a change for the UK to get a film like this before the Americans do. It means this review is actually slightly early rather than being weeks out of date! Anyway, onwards...
I've seen a number of reviews of this movie saying that it's not as good as the first film. Which is kind of true but also misleading. Because I suspect people see the words "not" and "good" and think that it's going to be, well, a bit rubbish. But that's far from the case. It's a fantastically enjoyable film - just not quite as break-out wonderful as the first one.
Number two sequels tend to do quite well in this genre. Superman 2, Spiderman 2, X-Men 2, Dark Knight were all better than the originals. So I'm guessing people had high hopes for Iron Man 2 and, perhaps, were a little disappointed. Which is a shame. There are some high octane action scenes in the middle and end of Iron Man 2 which, in a way, blow away the action in the first film. The suitcase suit - which also doubles as the red-and-silver version of the Iron Man suit - is brilliantly used in a fight against Whiplash (I would've preferred a version of either Blacklash or Crismon Dynamo from the comic books but Mickey Rourke does play a great Russian supervillain). And there's a rocket-fuelled fight against multiple Hammer-drones and War Machine at the end. The end resolution against Crimson "Whiplash" Dynamo was a bit weak though - he was too easily defeated and an extra couple of minutes of effects here would've helped. Watch out for the "Ex Wife". ;-)
Some have also said that this plays like a 2 hour preview of the upcoming Avengers movie. Which, for me, is a good thing. Hell, it's a fabulous thing! One of the most exciting things about Marvel's recent films is the way that they're taking part in the same shared universe and that Marvel have plans to unite these characters into one big, blockbuster movie. I seriously cannot wait for the Avengers movie and if it's as good as the hints we got here, then it'll be awesome.
Samuel L Jackson is just wonderful as Nick Fury. His interactions with Downey's Tony Stark are priceless. Scarlett Johansson is good as the Black Widow and her fight scene near the end of the film is one of the highlights - she can't half move! What with Fury and the Black Widow, plenty of mentions of S.H.I.E.L.D, an amusing use of Captain America's shield and a post-credit appearance of a certain thundergod's weapon of choice, it shows what an Avengers movie might be like.
So, other than the fact that the story line was perhaps a little weak (a slight case of 'style over substance'), the main bad guy was easily dispatched and that, yet again, Iron Man goes up against interchangeable powered-armoured opponents it was an enjoyable romp. Recommended.
And I just love Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. Best character of the lot and gorgeous with it.