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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Iron Man
Ultimate 2-Disc Edition


Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 12
Available 27 October 2008

After surviving an unexpected attack in enemy territory, jet-setting industrialist Tony Stark builds a high-tech suit of armour and vows to protect the world as Iron Man, Straight from the pages of the legendary comic book is a hero who is built - not born - to be unlike any other...

The latest Marvel Comics' superhero adaptation is probably one of my favourites so far. It's got all the right ingredients for a blockbuster movie, fantastic cast, characters that you care about, great visual effects and a story that, as preposterous as it is, you swallow hook, line and sinker. I mean... come on... locked in a shed Stark still manages to create the prototype Iron Man costume... sounds like something out of The A-Team doesn't it...

Fans of the original comic book series will be pleased that, pretty much, this film keeps close to the original origins of the character. All of the actors are impressive in their roles, but Robert Downey Jr., as Tony Stark, offers just the right balance so that the audience instantly find the character to be a cocksure idiot, but soon warm to him as he revaluates his life after being knocked unconscious when terrorists hold him hostage forcing him to make a weapon for them. It's here that Stark realises that his fortune should be put towards creating something for the good of mankind, not for it's destruction. The only character that came over badly in a couple of scenes was Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark's assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts.

If there was one small niggle I had, it was that the climactic end battle sequence wasn't all it could have been. But then, I suppose, I was expecting the stereotypical big bucks fight sequence and what we get feels a little watered down.

While the movie is first rate yet again I find myself moaning about the sneaky way studios try and make the public pay more money than necessary. Why on earth is this released across two discs? It's well known that the Blu-ray format is capable of storing nine hours of HD material (540 mins) and even more if the content is not in HD. Lets assume that all of the features are indeed presented in HD... is there even close to nine hours of content on these two discs? No! So why release it as a two disc set? Could it be to squeeze more money out of Blu-ray owners. You don't even get any additional content that's not on the 2-disc DVD release (other than the BD Live material). And let's been honest. How many owners of Blu-ray players actually have the other equipment to showcase this new technology on? The difference between Blu-ray and DVD is going to be hardly noticeable to anyone without a huge (and I mean huge) HD TV.

Extras include:

Disc 1: Hall of Armor (Interactive look at the four body suits seen in the movie); The Invincible Iron Man (47 min, 05 sec collection of mini featurettes about the comic books, which includes interviews with various Marvel staff including Stan Lee); Deleted / Extended Scenes (23 min, 56 secs of additional scenes - some complete, others in rough form); and BD-Live Iron Man IQ.

Disc 2: I Am Iron Man (1hr, 49 min collection of "Making of" features that goes behind the scenes. This can be played in full or as individual featurettes); Wired: The Visual Effects of Iron Man (27 min, 01 sec look at the movie's visual effects); Robert Downey Jr. Screen Test (6 min, 03 sec which shows several scenes with Downey Jr. getting into his role - it's pretty close to what ends up on the screen); The Actor's Process (4 min, 13 sec look at Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges rehearsing a scene); The Onion "Wildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted into Full-Length Film" (2 min, 38 sec spoof news sketch); and a collection of stills galleries.

Yet again I find myself torn between slating this release for ripping off customers or praising it because it's such a good film. On balance, I think that most people are intelligent enough to know when the studio's trying to pull a fast one.

Personally, I'd purchase the single disc DVD release - there's nothing on the Blu-ray release (or on the two-disc DVD) to get overly excited about - these are watch once only extras. Also I'd love to know why there's no audio commentary.

Great film, bad presentation mean that while this is a must own movie, you'll have to weigh up whether it really is worth spending the extra money for the Blu-ray edition.


Darren Rea

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