With the unprecedented success of the first “Iron Man”, the question wasn’t “should we make a sequel” it was more like “when do we start shooting the sequel?” Hollywood is all about money and “Iron Man” made tons of it, raking in over half a billion dollars in worldwide box office gross. With the myriad list of comic book/superhero movies coming out annually, “Iron Man” rose above the rest to become one of the highest-grossing films of 2008. Robert Downey Jr., perfectly cast as the billionaire playboy Tony Stark, was having a banner year himself as he was nominated for an Academy Award for this role in “Tropic Thunder” (he lost to Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”). The cast was all back for the sequel, well most of them anyway…Terrence Howard was replaced with Don Cheadle and evidently Howard wasn’t too pleased with that news. Still, “Iron Man” is all about the effects and, to be blunt, Robert Downey Jr. A sequel’s got to be bigger, better, badder and faster right and if so, then “Iron Man 2” fits that mold to a tee.
In the wake of the first film, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has come out to the public saying that he is, in fact, Iron Man. The world is enjoying its longest period of peace in recent history and much, if not all, of this is credited to Iron Man. Naturally the government wants to get their hands on Stark and his ferrous skin so they can mass produce it for the safety of the world. Led by Sen. Stern (a well-cast Gary Shandling), a committee is trying to get Stark to turn Iron Man over to the government and Stark will have no part in it. Additionally, the power source that’s keeping Tony alive is also killing him by slowly releasing toxic chemicals into his bloodstream. Add to this that Russian Ivan Yanko (Mickey Rourke) has now created a pseudo suit of his own and has teamed up with Stark’s competitor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to take Iron Man out, literally. Stark has also relinquished control of his company to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) so that he can work on finding a cure for what ails him. Can Iron Man outwit the bad guys, find a cure for himself and live happily ever after? Hmmm…
Let me come out and say it, I enjoyed “Iron Man 2” but on the same note I’ll say that I enjoyed “Iron Man” far more. It’s not often that a sequel is superior to its predecessor and in recent memory only “Spider-Man 2” would really fit that mold. Still, “Iron Man 2” delivered what it had to and it was generally well-received. The budget of $200 million was a hefty price tag for Paramount, but it did deliver with the film quietly grossing over $300 million domestically. Is it possible for a film to “quietly” gross $300 million dollars? The supporting cast delivered and I do have to say that I preferred Don Cheadle to Terrence Howard. With the success of both movies, I’m sure we’ll see a third installment and that’s fine by me. It’s good to see Robert Downey Jr. in films again and I think he’s really found his calling by playing Tony Stark. True, other actors out there could probably pull it off, but not many. Fans of the “Iron Man” series will already have this in their collection, but if you need any more convincing – it’s worth a blind purchase.
Video: How does it look?
“Iron Man 2” is about as big budget as they come and for a movie laden with visual effects, we’d expect nothing less than perfection when it comes to how it looks. We paid enough for our HDTV’s, right, so we might as well occasionally watch a movie on them that really shows what they’re capable of. “Iron Man 2” is one of those films. This Blu-ray comes equipped with a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that’s really nothing short of perfection. We can see every pore on the faces, the intricate detail of Stark’s veins and of course the fine delineation in the Iron Man suit. Colors are bold and strong and give off a vibrance that really makes the film shine. Contrast and black levels are right on target as well. With this movie you’ll pretty much get what you expect and for once, that’s good!
Audio: How does it sound?
On the audio front, we get a DTS HD Master Audio track that delivers just as we thought it would. Iron Man’s repulsor rays (the big white circles in the palms of his hands) sound amazing as does the kinetic “whip” used by Rourke’s character. Dialogue is very strong as well but the thing that really makes the soundtrack rock are the LFE’s. The bass is heavy at several different points in the movie giving the movie a very robust feel. The car racing scene is a favorite because it uses the high pitched portion of the spectrum and really gives us a 360 degree sound field. Like the video, we pretty much expect the audio to rock and it doesn’t disappoint.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Iron Man 2” comes to Blu-ray (and DVD) in a few different versions so we reviewed the no-frills one here (and that’s what Paramount sent us). There’s also a three disc version available but this single disc version includes a commentary by director Jon Faverau (who reprises his role) as he gives us the lowdown on the movie, the blowback from the first movie and the vast expectations that were weighed upon him and the movie itself. Of note, Faverau keeps talking all the way through the credits, but there’s a reason. Next up is the S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault which gives us “access” to all the schematics and overlays graphics on the more technical aspects of the film. This is a pretty cool little feature and it’s more random than you might think. Still, it shows the amount of thought and detail that went into this movie. Lastly we have “Previsualization and Animatics” which gives us a look at some key scenes along with some text and video to expand upon what we see.