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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Terrorism > Comedy > Military > Iron Man (2008/Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Paramount/Marvel Comics)

Iron Man (2008/Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Paramount/Marvel Comics)

 

Picture: B+/C+†††† Sound: B+/B-†††† Extras: B†††† Film: B

 

 

Among the many things that amaze me about the underestimation of and the know-it-alls posers who try to explain it is how any character less popular than Batman, Spider-Man, Batman or Superman is considered second-rate.Even if the character has been around for decades and highly successful enough to have several comic books going at once, it gets bashed.When Marvel found itself finally on the big screen map with Blade (1998, reviewed elsewhere on this site), the character was not even in consistent print of any kind.Iron Man was in turn-around for years, hurt in part by the box office failure of The Rocketeer, but Jon Favreau took the helm and it became the big surprise hit of the year.

 

The first feature film fully funded by Marvel Comics new movie studio arm, much was riding on its success.Many were shocked when Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark, but others realized rightly that it could work and the result put Downey on the A-list again for the first time in years.The character debuted in the 1960s and has been one of the more popular of the Marvel stable since, with several hit animated TV shows, constant comics in print and endless toys.Now, this film gives the classic character a new peak no one could have predicted.

 

Stark is the son of an industrialist long gone, who has returned to take control of his fatherís company.A technical innovator and military contractor to the U.S. Government (and in effect its allies), he has continued its innovation and high profitability.†† Working alongside his fatherís old friend (Jeff Bridges, in a long-deserved blockbuster hit) at their publicly-held company, business is good, until one day while overseas, a military convoy Stark is riding along with is ambushed and he is kidnapped.

 

It turns out to be a group of Islamic Terrorists (it was the Vietcong in the original comic) and when they realize it is Stark they have, they insist he make a killer missile for them or die.Already, shrapnel has hit him in the chest and only from the intervention of a fellow scientist/prisoner that is he alive.They pretend to make the weapon, when they really are making a special armored power suit in which to escape.Soon, a new hero will be born.

 

I was very happy in how this film handled the origins side of the character, getting to the point and not dragging it out to the point of coasting and leaning on it.Instead, the screenplay (by the teams of Mark Fergus/Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum/Matt Holloway) is one of those cases where instead of canceling each others ideas out, only up the energy in a final draft that understood why True Lies and the first two Robocop films worked so well.The result is a minor classic of the genre and a film that is very rewatchable.

 

That extends to the supporting cast, including Terrence Howard as best friend/military contact Rhodey and Gwyneth Paltrow delivers one of the best performances of commercial film career as right-hand woman/assistant/friend Pepper Potts.The resulting overall chemistry is some of the best we have seen in any blockbuster film in a while.This is the reason why this has gone over so well with the critics and the fans.Thus a franchise is born, a hero vindicated and a genre growing ands stronger than ever.This is only the beginning.

 

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image looks good often, but having seenthis several times in 35mm, this is still a bit softer than it should be and the anamorphically enhanced DVD is far worse, with weak Video Black.Director of Photography Matthew Libatique, A.S.C., shot this in Super 35mm film and pushed the Kodak Vision 2 stocks nicely, with effective compositions, lighting and a look that has some edge to it while still retaining a Hollywood gloss.The money is on the screen and the digital video effects are among the few good ones we have seen lately, used limitedly and in context to the narrative.

 

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is very good, decent and has its moments, but for whatever reason, still seems to have an eventual sonic ceiling I was not always hearing in the theater and that is puzzling.However, dialogue and sound effects are top rate, as is the music score.This mix has character.Favreauís clever use of hit records in the Rock genre, Ramin Djawadiís instrumental compositions are some of his best work to date (he did some additional work on Batman Begins) and I love the use of the theme song from the original 1960s cartoon series in several instrumental forms early in the film.Many people missed its clever placement.

 

Extras include two exclusive features for the Blu-ray edition: BD Live capacities and Hall of Armor feature.Both editions have deleted and extended scenes, preview for the latest animated TV series, featurettes Invincible Iron Man, I Am Iron Man (in 7 parts), Wired: The Visual Effects of Iron Man, The Actorís Process, still galleries, Robert Downey Jr. screen tests and spoof of the trailer by The Onion.Despite the absence of teasers and trailers, this is a fine set of extras and both versions needed two discs to hold it.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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