When people talk about sequels being bad, they talk about sequels that offer nothing on top of the original. They talk about sequels that lack the ability to stand on their own and totally rely on the original being there. They talk about sequels whose idea of improving on the former is to have a bit more of everything the former had. Iron Man 2 is, sadly, the fine example for this bad sequel syndrome.
You want a plot? Well, start off from where the previous film (Iron Man) left off. Add a bit of time to let the Iron Man single-handedly establish world peace. Then take an old guy with a Russian accent, Mickey Rourke, who thinks Iron Man owes him everything and give him the brains to design weapons of similar prowess. Mix with another type cast actor, a Sam Rockwell doing exactly what he did at Charlie's Angels, who is a rival weapons manufacturer to Robert Downie Jr’s Iron Man character of Tony Stark. That's pretty much all you need to know about the plot's outline, because the rest of the film is made of action pieces based on the above set agenda. Even the added twist of Stark finding out he’s about to die soon because of the Iron Man’s power source only increases the predictability factor.
The first Iron Man was a surprisingly good film; the second one is surprisingly bad. In case you haven’t noted there’s no plot worth discussing, but there is a long list of stars performing minor type cast roles with a road to nowhere development plan. Stars like Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson (whose presence the film does not even try to explain).
Between special effects and fight scenes involving more and more iron man clones there is not much to take from this sequel. It does not even work at the level of the "dumb two hour entertainment that makes you smile and forget about your troubles"; it just bored and frustrated me.
Technical assessment: Initially we rented the Blu-ray but had to replace it with the DVD after the Blu-ray disc would not be accepted by our PlayStation 3, the first time we had an experience of such magnitude with Blu-rays and evidence that the bane of the optical discs is still there in its latest generation and some thirty to forty years later. You would expect the DVD to be good but I found it anything but: the sound was alright, I guess, but the picture was lacking in detail.
Overall: I'm going to be harsh on this one because, following the pleasant surprise that was Iron Man, Iron Man 2 was a very unpleasant surprise. 2 out of 5 stars.