“Iron Man” kicked off the 2008 summer movie season with a literal bang (or perhaps a clang) and surprised just about everyone in the process. First off, pretty much most of the major comic book heroes from the two major comic giants (DC and Marvel) have been made into some sort of film by now. “Fantastic Four”, “Spider-Man”, “X-Men”, “Batman” and “Superman” are not only household names but all have been pretty successful in terms of their grosses and profits. “Iron Man” is a character that slipped through the cracks somewhat, though the comic character is just as old as some of Marvel’s other superheroes. What appealed to audiences, besides the perfect casting of Robert Downey Jr., was that Tony Stark was a flawed person. He was a womanizer, drank too much and was only out for one person himself. It took a significant event for him to see the light and become even more than he had imagined. Ok, well that and some pretty cool special effects, a great cast and a good story to boot.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a billionaire industrialist and the man in charge of Stark Enterprises. They specialize in weapons sold to governments sold to the highest bidder. At a “sales call” of sorts, Stark is attacked and held hostage and forced to create a weapon for a renegade group of terrorists. Stark then uses his time and limited resources to turn himself into a weapon: Iron Man. Upon his arrival at home, he’s a changed man and not only one that has a magnetic device to keep his heart beating. He announces that Stark Enterprises won’t manufacture weapons any longer and makes some modifications to his own suit of armor. Naturally things don’t go as planned and though Iron Man’s maverick antics do more good than harm, it still doesn’t sit well with Obidiah Stone (Jeff Bridges), Stark’s partner and Chairman of the Board. Will Iron Man prevail or will he be forced into submission by the powers that be
“Iron Man” is pure fun and pure fun to watch. Downey Jr. is perfectly cast as the charismatic Tony Stark and he and fellow co-star Gwyneth Paltrow play well off each other all the while keeping the sexual tension to a bare minimum. The real star of the show is Downey though as his consistent mumbling and on-screen demeanor make for quite the interesting performance. The CGI effects are top notch and it shows how far we’ve come in terms of it. The supporting cast plays well too, with Terrance Howard offering up another quality role as Tony’s Air Force friend. The movie accounted for about 10% of Hollywood’s gross this year and its no surprise that a sequel is already being filmed. “Iron Man” showed that even some of the lesser-known comic book heroes, when done right, can make for a very entertaining movie indeed.
Video: How does it look?
The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is about as pristine as they come and with this being one of Paramount’s flagship Blu-ray titles, it was important they got it right. They did. This was one of the few films I saw in the theater and I have to say that as good as it looked there, there was such a crystal clear clarity to the image, I felt like I could reach right out and touch Iron Man’s suit (I tried, it didn’t work). The first act of the film has a much rougher look to it and that look is conveyed in the transfer. While a bit grainy at times, I feel that it was supposed to look like this and contrasted with the silky smooth look of the last two acts, this is one that will be hard to beat. For those expecting a great-looking transfer, look no further.
Audio: How does it sound?
As good as “Iron Man” looks on screen, it actually sounds better. Paramount has given us a very robust Dolby TrueHD mix that, quite simply, rocks. In addition to the sheer amount of things that blow up during the course of the film, the initial scenes in which Stark is getting accustomed to the new suit are some of the best. He crashes in every conceivable direction and in turn it lets all the speakers in your home theater stretch their proverbial legs. Dialogue, as we might expect, is very rich and dynamic. This is what having a home theater is all about and it’s no surprise that “Iron Man” will be one of those titles you whip out to guests and say “Check this out.”
Supplements: What are the extras?
The success of “Iron Man” in the theaters led to a very robust Blu-ray set that will no doubt be one of the years’s best selling titles. We dive right in on the first disc with a documentary entitled “The Invincible Iron Man” and running at just under an hour, gives us a history of the character by those that created him. Interestingly enough, Tony Stark was always a favorite of the females out there. We also get a look at three of Iron Man’s suits in an interactive featurette that allows us to zoom in and get a very detailed look at each incarnation of the suit of armor. Lastly we get some 25 minutes of deleted and/or extended scenes that didn’t make the final cut. These are presented in HD, though some are a bit rough around the edges.
The second disc is where the remainder of the supplements lie and we start off with “I am Iron Man”, a 110 minute documentary that encompasses pretty much everything associated with the film, the pre-shoot and the post effects that made the movie into everything it is and was. There is an aptly-titled “The Visual Effects of Iron Man” which shows us how some of those cool scenes were made as well as some still galleries and some rehearsal footage. We get the original theatrical trailer as well as a BD-Live function that goes live, well, today.