BLU-RAY REVIEW: Iron Man 2
The Armored Avenger gets a great hi-def home video treatment...
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Marvel has done it again with the Iron Man 2 Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack. That's right, another awesome hi-def home video release is hitting the stores tomorrow featuring a beautiful video transfer, a robust soundtrack, and a wide variety of amazing special features. And don't forget the film comes in three different formats (blu-ray, DVD and digital copy), meaning you've got three easy ways to enjoy the latest Marvel U blockbuster!
If you have yet to see the original Iron Man, what's wrong with you?!? Seriously. My mom went to it four times in the theater...and she's not even a comic book fan. A great, updated origin story of the Armored Avenger, the first film helps introduce the characters as well as the world in which they live. Iron Man 2 picks up a few months after the original, with Tony Stark "outing" himself as Iron Man and essentially having brought about world peace through using the Iron Man armor as a deterrent to anyone hoping to do harm.
Enter Russian jailbird, scientist and tough man Ivan Vanko, who, in the comics, is the super villain Crimson Dynamo; however, for the purposes of this modern day film adaptation, becomes the armored villain Whiplash. Seeking revenge for actions taken by Tony's father decades before, Whiplash looks to shame Tony in the eyes of his adoring public, all the while taking advantage of Tony's ludacris behavior due to his drinking and life-threatening illness. Add to that the fact Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes and Tony are on the outs which leads to Rhodes stealing, modifying and arming the Iron Man Mark II armor (yeah - War Machine!) and you've got yourself the basic story of Iron Man 2.
While Iron Man 2 is no where near as interesting or engaging as the original film, it's still an exciting and enjoyable film. In fact, it's got plenty of adventure, a good amount of comic relief, solid acting, and some of the coolest action scenes I've seen this year. In fact, though some of the action is short-lived and somewhat anti-climactic, it's still worth watching over and over again...if only to see War Machine kicks all sorts of butt! (Can't tell I'm a War Machine fan, can you?)
Like the first film, Iron Man 2 features a solid variety of actors, including Robert Downey Jr. back in the title role, Don Cheadle as Col. Rhodes/War Machine, Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Plus, Samuel Jackson once again appears as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s top dog and patch-wearing warrior, Col. Nick Fury. Each gives solid performances and delivers plenty to watch, especially Johansson, who kicks butt and takes names as Tony's "shadow."
Paramount has done a great job with the transfer to home video. The film features a gorgeous 1080p video transfer with beautiful, bright colors, crisp lines. Likewise, the impressive DTS-HD MasterAudio 5.1 soundtrack delivers plenty of booms and bangs for those with a good home theater system. The dialogue is easy to hear and the machine gun fire and repulsor blasts happen right in your midst.
This three disc combo pack includes the film in three different formats - blu-ray high definition, standard definition DVD and digital copy. The set also includes a disc chalk full of bonus features, including a audio commentary with director Jon Favreau which is both insightful and fun. Even more impressive, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault gives fans the opportunity to read and view in-depth information on the people, weapons, and tech in the Marvel film universe. What's really exciting is the blu-ray offers the option to view this in two modes: one in the film (Scan Mode) and in lump sum (Vault Mode). The different files available to view include Project: Iron Man, Project: New Mexico, Avengers Initiative, Super Soldier Initiative, and Missing: Bruce Banner. While not all of the information is viewable, the exciting this is - according to sources - upon release of future Marvel films (including Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers), these unvisitable sections will become available to fans who own the Iron Man 2 Blu-ray and have internet conductivity.
The second disc includes a four-part making-of documentary entitled "Ultimate Iron Man: The Making of Iron Man 2." This includes "Rebuilding the Suit," which explores the second film; "A Return to Action," which explores RDJ and other actor's work, shooting on location, weapons used in the film and more; "Expanding the Universe," which examines props and costume design, Johansson's fight scenes (which is awesome!) and CGI; and "Building a Legacy," which explores the post-production of the film and what goes into completing a blockbuster like Iron Man 2.
The set also includes six shorter featurettes focusing on different aspects of the film, including "Creating Stark Expo," "Practical Meets Digital," "Illustrated Origin: Nick Fury," "Illustrated Origin: Black Widow," "Illustrated Origin: War Machine" and "Working with DJ AM." Additional bonus features include a concept art gallery which features images seen in the "The Art of Iron Man 2" art book (a recommendation to any fans as well!). Lastly, eight deleted scenes, an alternate opening, and trailers for the film, video game, and animated films are also included.
Overall, Iron Man 2 is a "must buy" for anyone who was a fan of the first film and wants to continue building their collection of Marvel U live-action films. With Thor and Captain American on the horizon and The Avengers film coming in the next couple of years, it's films like Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk that help not only introduce this incredibly linear and exciting Marvel Universe, but make it well worth exploring over and over again...
Iron Man 2 rated for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language and is available on home video on Tuesday, September 28 wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley