When you think of big comic book characters there are a few that immediately stand out - Spiderman, Superman, Batman, The Hulk, and probably a couple of others. Iron Man is one which few people would instantly name, at least, prior to this movie coming out. Perhaps it was a surprise then when Marvel announced Iron Man would be their first movie project handled in-house. No more teaming up with other movie studios.
This was obviously a gamble for the company, but should movie goers respond as they have to several other franchises it could reap massive rewards for the company. Fortunately for Marvel this 'lesser known' character wasn't a flop at the box office. In fact, Iron Man it has become one of the biggest superhero movies of all time with a worldwide gross surpassing $US571 million thus ranking it as the 5th highest grossing comic book movie of all time behind the Spider-man trilogy and The Dark Knight. Not bad at all...
Tony Stark is a billionaire industrialist and inventor who is kidnapped overseas and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Tony builds a high-tech suit of armour and escapes captivity. Upon his return to America, Tony must come to terms with his past. When he uncovers an evil plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armour and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.
Direction by Jon Favreau (whose previous credits include Elf and Zathura) this movie is simply superb. Rarely do you get an action movie that is filled with characters with plenty of heart, motives and humour but he has pulled it off here. Before you groan about humour we must suggest that it never groanworthy, and more often then not is totally unexpected. Who will ever forget the result of the first test firing of the booster rockets on his Mark II Iron Man shoes?
Without a shadow of a doubt what makes this movie so special is the absolutely perfect casting of Robert Downey Jr. as the playboy billionaire Tony Stark. We are all well aware of his own personal battles with alcohol and drugs, so it's not a stretch to see Tony Stark battling the same demons in parts of his life.
Other supporting cast including Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, and Jon Favreau all put in fine performances as well and, in Marvel tradition, keep an eye out for a great little cameo from Stan Lee too!
One final, very sad, note is that this was the second last movie that visual effects legend Stan Winston worked on prior to his passing earlier this year (his final movie being the upcoming Terminator Salvation). While much of the 'Iron Man' universe has been set in the comic books his, and his studios, attention to detail is impressive and deserves credit.
Beyond those small niggles though this is a nigh on perfect transfer with vibrant colours, great detail, and excellent contrast levels. For such a visual effects laden movie there are few 'CG' looking scenes which is testament to the efforts put in by the filmmakers and special effects houses that worked on this movie - including Industrial Light & Magic.
Iron Man comes to Blu-Ray with an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, and it's an absolute cracker. By far the most impressive aspect of this transfer is the brilliant use of surround sound channels and sub-woofer for LFE effects. Not only is everything brilliantly clear, but also adds a depth and liveliness to the picture rarely seen in even the most recent of releases. If you want a sample of the audio on this disc check out the test firing of the Jericho weapon from 14:39 to 15:59. Indeed the flying sequence with Iron Man and the two fighter jets between 1:21:05 and 1:24:40 also sounds, and looks wonderful.
Even with all the effects, explosions, and jets the dialogue remains clear at all time and never becomes muffled. Music by composer Ramin Djawadi also deserves mention as it never overwhelms the film or dialogue, but provides that heroic theme music that you will likely remember well after leaving the cinemas.
The only other track on this disc is an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps. This also a stunning track with little to complain about. Naturally this format doesn't quite have the same fidelity as the English Dolby TrueHD track, but you won't find anything much to complain about. Subtitles include English and English for the Hearing Impaired as well as eleven other languages. In sampling selected dialogue heavy scenes the subtitles demonstrated their accuracy to the dialogue on screen with decent timing giving you plenty of time to read them.
The Invincible Iron Man (47:05/HD): This featurette is split up into six parts (Origins, Friends & Foes, Definitive Iron Man, Demon in a Bottle, Extremis and Beyond, and Ultimate Iron Man. It includes plenty of interviews with the comic book artists as well as the creator Stan Lee and details the changes to Iron Man in the comic book universe over the 40 years since inception.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (23:56/HD): Eleven deleted or extended scenes are presented here with their filming dates and time markers present. Unfortunately visuals effects aren't complete in many and the audio is only Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps. Still, some do add a little more to the story.
BD-Live: Iron Man I.Q. (HD): A Java based trivia game which uses clips from the movie to base questions upon. As well as official Marvel created quizzes, you can also play fan made ones.
Despite the extensive extras on the first disc, it is Disc 2 which holds the bulk of the extras so let's have a look at that...
I Am Iron Man (1:49:00/HD): Now this is spectacular. Running for 1 hour 49 minutes this 'fly on the wall' styled documentary is brilliantly put together and covers all aspects of the production from the early pre-viz, to the suit production, rehearsals, filming and post production. Rarely do you see a documentary as well put together as this, and one which matches the brilliance of the movie. There are plenty of discussion points shown including reasons for lighting, setups, effects, audio and costumes, as well as some other side notes - such as the director losing 75 pounds during filming!
Robert Downey Jr. Screen Test (6:03/HD): A series of screen tests with Robert Downey Jr. Interesting in that it shows how much of the character was evident from the very earliest stages.
The Actor's Process (4:13/HD): A look at rehearsing, and refining, a scene outside the Firefighters Family Fund Benefit with Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges.
The Onion "Wildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted into Full Length Film" (2:38/HD): Ummm.. I think this is a spoof news report about making an Iron Man trailer into a full movie by extending the scenes. To be honest, I don't know what this was actually created for. Strange, and a commentary would have been welcomed!
Theatrical Trailers (8:01/HD): Four trailers are presented here. The Theatrical Teaser, the Theatrical Trailer, International Trailer B and International Trailer C. As well as being presented in 2.35:1 with AVC MPEG-4 HD video each trailer has Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 640kbps.
Galleries (HD): A series of dozens of still images split up into four areas - concept art, tech, unit photography and posters - and then split up into even smaller areas.
Review By: Dave Warner