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October 13, 2010
Iron Man 2 (3-Disc Edition) Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
29/4/20107/10/2010ParamountJon Favreau
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MRobert Downey Jr

THE MOVIE
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Robert Downey Jr returns as Tony Star/Iron Man.

With the first Iron Man grossing an impressive $US585 million worldwide there was little doubt a sequel would come along soon enough, and only a couple of years later here we are with almost all the principal cast returning. This sequel, simply titled Iron Man 2, was a decent follow-up and amassed an even more impressive $US625 million. No more mucking around then, let's get to what this movie is all about...

With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, must forge new alliances -- and confront powerful enemies.

Central to this movies success is the relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, again played by Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow respectively, and their on-screen love-hate relationship provides much of the charm and humour in this movie. They really click together and while Pepper isn't in the same level of danger as in the first film, she has a larger role in this sequel.

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Iron Man 2 as the iconic hero.
There are a couple of new additions to the cast with this sequel. First up is the new villain Ivan Vanko played by Mickey Rourke who completes his return to triple-A acting list with this film. The gorgeous Scarlett Johansson makes an appearance as Natalie Rushman, but in all honestly is massively underutilized while Sam Rockwell is great as Justin Hammer, the head of a company competing against Stark Industries. Finally we have Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James Rhodes who takes over from Terrence Howard for unknown, but reportedly performance of financial, reasons however Don certainly fits the role nicely and his performance is quite superb. In fact there isn't anyone in the cast.

Of course a movie such as this also relies on the thrills and spills of the action sequences and Iron Man 2 delivers more then the original, which is a near-must for a sequel. From the car racing around Monaco and the first appearance of Whiplash, to the fight between Iron Man and War Machine, to the final climactic battles. The CG work, of which there is a lot of course, is pretty good for the most part although there are some areas, such as the race cars from above the could have been a little better.

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Mickey Rourke is great as Whiplash in Iron Man 2.
Iron Man 2 is another great movie in the franchise littered with great actors, great action sequences, and a fantastic mix of comedy and drama. This sequel isn't quite up to the standards of the original overall however the ending is certainly a little better then that in the first movie. Essentially if you liked the first film you should find plenty to enjoy in this thrilling sequel.

VIDEO
As expected Iron Man 2 is presented on Blu-Ray at the standard 1080p resolution at the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and uses the AVC MPEG-4 codec for video encoding. With most of the extras for this release shuffled onto a second disc there is plenty of room for the video encoding to shine here, and that it does with plenty of fine detail evident throughout. While never the best judge of overall quality the video bitrate on our PS3 varied greatly, but in general hovers around the 30Mbps mark for the majority of the film.

The transfer is free from any film artifacts or dirt, and the transfer retains a light film-like quality. Indeed this is probably as close to reference quality as we have seen on Blu-Ray recently - no - scrap that. This is reference quality. The film is often colourful, but contains great contrast levels and detail in the darker scenes too.

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Gwyneth Paltrow is great as Pepper Potts.
AUDIO
In terms of audio Paramount have ditched the impressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 format they used in the original films Blu-Ray port and have opted for DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) instead - something which we can't complain about as we personally prefer the DTS tracks in general. Now we hope you have a great sound system because this disc sounds, well, just WOW! This film has some of the most aggressive use of surround sound channels we have ever heard and the LFE will have your room shaking during some intense sequences. As you would expect from such a major release the audio design is superlative with clear dialogue and bone crunching effects.

Beyond the primary English track this Blu-Ray disc also includes an English Audio Description track encoded at Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps, as well as Spanish, French and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. Subtitles are provided in English, Danish, Spanish, French, Dutch, Norwegisn, Finnish and Swedish. We sampled the English subtitles for a while and didn't detect any major issues with good pacing and clear text.

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Hot damn, Blu-Ray brings out the detail!
EXTRAS
Yet again Paramount has released this disc loaded with extras - in fact there's so much it's on a second disc too. Rather then waffle on, here's the details...

Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau: It's clear that Jon has a big passion for this franchise and he goes into plenty of detail about the production. In the race sequence for instance Jon details which parts were filmed where, what is CG, and how it wouldn't have been possible without the Prince of Monaco being on board. Interestingly the audio commentary has a lot of honesty and Jon doesn't seem to shy away from some of the battles he had with Marvel - although he never blatantly rips into them.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault: The Vault (HD): This section on the disc contains plenty of information about the Iron Man universe including detailed looks at the files and objects that appear in the film.

Previsualization and Animatics (HD): By turning this on you can see the images in a PIP window which were used for the creation of the film. It's only in selected seqeuences but is a good representation of what the filmmakers prepared prior to filming.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault: Footage Scan Mode (HD): This is a pop-up trivia track with tidbits of information such as Tony Stark's toxicity levels, design schematics, and other relevant information.

We now move onto the second disc which certainly contains the bulk of the extras...

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Iron Man is about to kick some ass.
Ultimate Iron Man: The Making of Iron Man 2 (1:27:08/HD): Viewable in four seperate parts - Rebuilding the Suit (29:09), A Return To Action (17:17), Expanding the Universe (18:52) and Building a Legacy(21:50) - this near 90-minute documentary covers all aspects of the films creation from pre to post production and includes interviews with many of the principal people in front and behind the cameras and plenty of on-set and behind the scenes footage. Make sure you watch until after the credits - like the feature film there's a little bonus there.

Featurettes (30:28/HD): As with the previous doco this is also split up into parts - Creating Stark Expo (6:44), Practical Meets Digital (8:37) which was my favourite featurette with a look at special effects and the suits, Illustrated Origin: Nick Fury (6:07), Illustrated Origin: Black Widow (3:06), Illustrated Origin: War Machine (3:52) and Working With DJ AM (2:02).

Deleted Scenes (16:50/HD): In all 8 scenes are presented here (seven deleted and one extended) with optional commentary from director Jon Favreau. These scenes vary from near complete to still requring visual effects. Sadly these scenes only include some pretty average Dolby Digital 2.0 audio encoded at 224kbps.

Galleries (HD): Split up into 11 different themed areas this extensive gallery contains dozens of images from the pre-production of the film.

Theatrical Trailers (6:03/HD): Three trailers are presented here in HD using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. They give away too much plot so avoid if you haven't seen the feature movie already.

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Iron Man 2 is a fantastic Blu-Ray release.
Other Marvel Trailers (6:24/HD): Trailers for the Iron Man 2 Video Game, Iron Man 2 Video Game Prologue and Avengers Animated Trailer. All pretty forgettable really.

Music Video: Ac/DC "Shoot To Thrill" (5:37/HD): The Aussie rockers make an impact with this Iron Man 2 music video clip. Not their greatest song ever, but the clip looks and sounds great.

Finally we have a third disc which includes a Bonus DVD Digital Copy of the film for those that are interested - for us it's HD or nothing, but we're sure some will find a use.

OVERALL
Iron Man 2 is a great sequel to one of the best comic book film adaptations of all time. with a great cast, a fun storyline, plenty of action and some humour thrown in for good measure this is a must-watch. Paramout have provided a perfect transfer and a whole swag of extras making this one of the best Blu-Ray releases we've ever seen.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
10/10
THE AUDIO
10/10
THE EXTRAS
9/10
OVERALL
9/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.