Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Iron Man 2 (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes
Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanoff
Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
John Slattery as Howard Stark
Garry Shandling as Senator Stern
Paul Bettany as Jarvis
Kate Mara as U.S. Marshal
Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Christiane Amanpour as Herself

Directed by Jon Favreau

Special Features:
Disc 1 (Blu-ray):
Feature film with optional commentary by Jon Favreau (HD)
S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault (HD) - Extend your knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with high-level clearance into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s digital data vault. Interact with select scenes from the movie that include new layers of graphics and insider information. View case files, dossiers, S.H.I.E.L.D. training films, tech details and more.
Previsualization and Animatics (HD)

Disc 2 (Blu-ray):
Ultimate Iron Man: The Making of "Iron Man 2" (HD)
Rebuilding the Suit - An all-encompassing look at the beginning stages of this mammoth blockbuster.
A Return to Action - From Marvel Studios to the streets of Monaco, Jon Favreau takes viewers through the trials and triumphs of continuing Iron Man's story.
Expanding the Universe - From the amazing sets of Stark Expo to Tony Stark's home and beyond, the Marvel Universe continues to unfold into new and exciting places.
Building a Legacy - From filming to editing, scoring and visual effects, Favreau and his team face the challenges of bringing the sequel to the big screen.

Featurettes (HD):
Creating Stark Expo - A look at how the sets and computer-generated elements combine to create the massive set piece.
Practical Meets Digital - How the "practical" props inform the "digital" work that ultimately brings our hero to life on screen.
Illustrated Origin: Nick Fury - A comprehensive journey into creating one of the most mysterious and influential heroes in the Marvel Universe.
Illustrated Origin: Black Widow - An exciting look at the new femme fatale introduced in "Iron Man 2."
Illustrated Origin: War Machine - A look at the introduction of the character and how his friendship with Tony Stark resonates with fans.
Working with DJ AM - Jon Favreau remembers working with Adam Goldstein.

Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Jon Favreau (HD):
Alternate Opening
Coulson at the Senate
The Sub-Orbital Jet
Tony's Workshop (extended)
Natalie Wears the Gauntlet
Flying Party Girl
Mark II Security
Element Rediscovered (extended)

Concept Art Gallery
Theatrical Trailers (HD)
Music Video: AC/DC "Shoot To Thrill" (HD)

Disc 3 (DVD):
Feature Film
Digital Copy

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese Subtitles
French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese Languages
Running Time: 124 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"Get the ultimate 'Iron Man 2' experience with this special edition loaded with bonus features that take you inside the suit, plus a digital copy of the film that you can watch anywhere, anytime! Now that Tony Stark's superhero secret is revealed to the world, he must once again suit up in order to face his most dangerous enemy yet - but not without a few new allies of his own!"

"Iron Man 2" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence and some language

The Movie:
The first "Iron Man" was a really tough act to follow. It had a perfect blending of acting, characterization, dialogue and action. It set the bar really high for "Iron Man 2." In many respects this sequel met those expectations but in other ways it fell somewhat short.

What worked in the first movie still works here. You have a fantastic performance by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. He's funny, charming, and cocky. Despite everything he has going for him, he still has problems like a failed relationship with his father, increasing pressure from the government, and looming alcoholism. While not wallowing in those dark themes for the entire movie, it touches on it just enough to satisfy fans who were familiar with the classic "Demon in a Bottle" storyline from the comics. Also still working is the great romantic tension between Tony and Pepper. Gwyneth Paltrow perfectly performs her character with the right mix of exasperation and attraction. The film also takes the action from the first movie and takes it to the next level. The scenes end up being a lot of fun.

One of the treats from the first movie was seeing hints of the rest of the Marvel Universe included here and there. We met Nick Fury, got hints of the Avengers, and more. And while it's fun to see Nick Fury and the Agents of Shield in "Iron Man 2," they do feel a tad shoehorned in. Their appearance doesn't feel all that natural to the flow of the story and when Nick does appear, he's mostly there for exposition. That being said, the cameo by Thor's hammer at the end of the credits was a lot of fun.

"Iron Man 2" features the addition of a few new characters to the mythos. Mickey Rourke is Ivan Vanko aka Whiplash. He looks great on screen, but most of his scenes involve him looking cool and not doing much else. It didn't feel like Rourke was used to his full potential. Sam Rockwell also plays Justin Hammer. He's a fantastic actor, but it didn't feel like he was being used to his full potential either until his scene where he arms War Machine. There he seems to be in improvisational mode and it ends up being one of the better moments in the movie. In other scenes with him facing off with Ivan Vanko, it's not nearly as satisfying. Scarlett Johansson is also good as Black Widow, but she's mainly the 'straight man' for Tony Stark. She's little more than a pretty face for much of the film until the big finale. But when she kicks into action, you get the payoff with her character. I don't think she could carry an entire film on her own, but including her in an ensemble cast like "Avengers" will allow her to shine. Appearances by Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Garry Shandling as Senator Stern, Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart, and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan are all a lot of fun as well.

Then there's the substitution of Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes in place of Terence Howard. There's no question that between the two actors, Cheadle has more personality and is more prepared to go toe to toe with Downey in improvisation. But again Cheadle is mostly the straight man for Stark and doesn't even get to really cut loose until the finale. I would have preferred to see consistency between the films by using the same actors, but it's almost irrelevant since the script doesn't give Rhodey a lot of personality. Rhodey's 'intervention' during Stark's drunken party is a lot of fun, though, and the addition of Queen music is the icing on the cake.

Despite numerous gripes, "Iron Man 2" is still a strong film and a worthy addition to the series. A weak "Iron Man" movie is still better than most films out there. It is well worth checking out and a great addition to your Blu-ray collection.

The Extras:
The 3-Disc Combo Pack is definitely the edition of "Iron Man 2" that you're going to want to pick up. Favreau made a point to have a documentary crew follow him on every aspect of the making of this movie and that effort is quite apparent on this Blu-ray. It approaches Peter Jackson-like levels of details in the bonus features.

The main highlight of this set is "Ultimate Iron Man: The Making of 'Iron Man 2.'" This is well over an hour of footage showing the creation of the suits, the creation of the Stark Expo, shooting in Monaco, editing, scoring, and more. It's a comprehensive video that follows Favreau from Day 1 of shooting. As an added bonus, if you watch the documentary all the way through the credits, at the very end there's a 'making of' feature showing the filming of the "Thor's Hammer" scene at the end of "Iron Man 2." We see Kenneth Branagh shooting. We see comments from J. Michael Strazynski, Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, and more. There are even a few shots from the "Thor" movie that haven't been seen before, so it's a cool unadvertised treat.

Whatever is not covered by the feature length documentary is covered in a series of featurettes. You get a closer look at the making of "Stark Expo," information on how they combined practical Iron Man suits with CG suits, a featurette on Nick Fury, a featurette on Black Widow, and a featurette on War Machine. Then there's a segment on the cameo by DJ AM aka Adam Goldstein. Favreau obviously enjoyed working with the DJ and it really shows in this featurette. His death is briefly mentioned as well.

Another major highlight is the deleted scenes. Most notable among them is the alternate opening. In it, as the opening credits roll, we hear Stark weakly pleading, "Pepper! Please help me!". The camera then shows a shot of him in the Iron Man suit hung-over and puking in an airplane toilet. The scene then transitions to Pepper and Stark walking through the cargo plane debating whether he should go on the 'mission.' We then get the 'kiss scene' seen in the trailers where she throws the Iron Man helmet out of the plane. It's funny, but you understand why it was cut. There was another scene shown in the commercials and trailers where Stark, at the party, has Natasha put on the Repulsor Gauntlet and blow apart an ice sculpture. Again, it's a fun scene but it doesn't seem true to the spirit of the Black Widow character who seems to disapprove of the way Stark uses the armor. A third deleted scene is the one featuring G4's Olivia Munn as a party girl who flies in the house using Stark's repulsors. She bobs around the air in a ditzy way over Stark as Rhodey confronts him. It's a fun scene but the final version is definitely better.

Among the other bonus features are a commentary by Favreau, an art gallery, and an AC/DC "Shoot to Thrill" music video. I like AC/DC as much as the next guy, but seeing a shirtless, balding, sweaty old man strut across the stage playing guitar is not a pleasing sight. Fortunately they balance it out with plenty of shots of the Ironettes. Rounding out the bonus features is the "S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault" which is little more than a bunch of graphic menus and text files about the characters. Interestingly, they show Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in one of the files.

This set includes a digital copy for iPhones and other portable devices as well as a DVD copy.

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