Well, summer's back, boys and girls, and there promises to be plenty of summer movies to see and break down here. The first (and I realize I'm a couple weeks behind with this one) is Iron Man 2.
Once again I must reference tvtropes, in particular their concept of "fridge logic", or the subtle questions and inconsistencies that you don't notice at first but suddenly dawn on you as you make your way to the fridge for another beer, so to speak. Fridge logic isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are some things that, if brought up, would seriously reduce dramatic tension and thus should be glossed over---this is especially true if dealing with them just doesn't do much toward making the situation any more plausible or realistic.
But there are some things that should be brought up---and, indeed, the concept of fridge logic can, at times, border into the more general plot hole territory. I think Iron Man 2 has altogether too much of both.
Overall, this is an enjoyable movie. I'd say it lacks a little of the punch of the first film, but it doesn't suck. It's just...not that compelling, truthfully. Motivation is there, but both villains just want to find some way to screw over or kill Stark---everything beyond that is reduced to afterthought (even when, in Hammer's case, he has a lot to think about after that---making money off selling weaponized armors to the military). And while not every villain need a goal of conquering the world or advancing an agenda, a vision in their eyes of right and wrong, the profound lack of that makes these villains awfully simple. There's not a whole lot going on for them.
The broader issue, however, is that the plot just doesn't have a lot of tightness to it. It's comprehensible, to be sure, but some things about it simply don't make sense. Why should Howard Stark outright hide the secret to a non-poisonous arc reactor in a riddle? It seems like a convenient puzzle that adds dramatic tension without really having any justification (even though several could be easily provided---hiding it from Anton, etc.). Why is the palladium subplot even there? To give Stark some reason to make a fool of himself? My biggest problem is that, while it enables the villains' plans, it's something that's still woefully unconnected and is resolved oh-so-conveniently. Vanko basically seems to have no other plan than to kill Stark, and while that's fine, the idea that "the god bleeds" as he claims just doesn't seem to take hold. It's not other people who see Stark as weak so much as Stark himself imploding---which, dying as he was, he was doing anyway. In short, Vanko's prediction just doesn't seem to hold with any strength, and Hammer's behavior is merely opportunistic. The SHIELD agent Natasha also seems to be goading Stark into imploding, which doesn't really add up either (unless, of course, knowing she's herself part of the supers business in the future, that's part of who she is, but say what she did in her report at the end just kind of seemed off).
I will say that I liked a good bit about the film: Hammer seemed quite hilarious yet still had a good edge on him, and the birthday party scene with a drunk Stark casually blasting things with his beams was, to me at least, extremely chilling. You can tell Potts and Rhodes are very, very afraid that Stark will just blast a person and splatter their guts over the walls, and with good reason. But that felt like the only moment of genuine emotion in the film, and that's...unfortunate.