The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 124 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Brazilian Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Music by: John Debney
Written by: Justin Theroux
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 28, 2010
"It’s not the armor that makes the hero, but the man inside"
Now that his superhero secret has been revealed, Tony’s life is more intense than ever. Everyone wants in on the Iron Man technology, whether for power or profit…but for Ivan Vanko (“Whiplash”), it’s revenge! Tony must once again suit up and face his most dangerous enemy yet, but not without a few new allies of his own.
“I am Iron man”. Iron man 2 essentially picks up from where the first film ends and finds Tony/Iron man using his resources to quell global security problems while keeping up social appearances and living large. The American military/government wants control over the Iron man “weapon” to which Tony replies “umm let me think…no”. A competing American weapons contractor, Justin Hammer of Hammer Industries, is hired by the government but attempts in vain to replicate Iron man’s design. Tony revives the “Stark Expo” in Flushing NY as a means to continue his father Howard’s legacy of innovation. In the meantime Tony suffers from blood poisoning from over exposure to the palladium core in the arc reactor in his chest plate/heart device. The toxicity levels are rising rapidly and will kill him soon. He has exhausted all known resources and been unable to find a suitable replacement. Tony’s friend Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes is caught between a rock and hard place over his friendship with Tony and commitment to the U.S. Military weapons division which is pushing for access to the Iron man armor.
Depressed over his failing health Tony’s behavior goes from typically eccentric to over the top/reckless which puts a strain on his company and friendships. He places the most trusted of his allies in control of Stark Industries by making Pepper Potts CEO, a move many in the industry see as just another reckless, idiosyncratic maneuver by a rich boy out of control. Ivan Vanko is a Russian Physicist whose father Anton Vanko once worked for Stark Industries but was fired and deported over a scandal while Howard Stark was running the company. Anton died penniless in Ivan’s arms and on his deathbed hinted to Ivan that he should/could be in Tony Stark’s position (after watching him announce to the world that he is Iron man). Vowing vengeance Ivan uses an old set of Stark Industries arc reactor plans belonging to his father to design a powerful whip like weapon that he unveils in an attack on Tony Stark at a racing event in Monaco. Luckily shell head vanquishes the attack and “whiplash” is taken into custody by the local authorities but not before his repulsor style weaponry catches the attention of another attendee at the event. Unbeknownst to Tony these are all pieces of a large puzzle that, depending on their arrangement, could very well spell the end of Iron man. If he is to survive he will need help from some familiar faces, a few new ones, and an unlikely source that he lost long ago.
After the success of the first film I, like many of you who are reading this, eagerly awaited Iron man 2. Following up a movie like Iron man can be tricky. I had faith in the director, and cast but wasn’t quite sure how the continuing storyline would shake out. I saw it theatrically and must admit that my reaction to it was lukewarm in that I only found it to be just okay. I didn’t feel there was enough action and that the period between the action segments was too long. I thought the integration of Whiplash lacked originality (how about a bad guy for bad guy’s sake instead of another psycho seeking revenge?). I found the Justin Hammer character to be a little too shallow and disliked the portrayal of the relationship between Rhodey and Tony (hated the fight/party sequence). The final battle fizzled in an abrupt and imitative manner that left me wanting.
On the other hand (like in the first film) I liked the contemporized take on the Marvel characters/story, the wiz bang special effects, Downey’s ownership of the role, and the Pepper/Tony underlying attraction (speaking of Pepper Potts, Gwyneth Paltrow looks great). I appreciated the larger presence/role of S.H.I.E.LD.(Nick Fury/Black Widow) , and the integration of Rhodey’s sort of alternate perspective on what it means to be the man in the armor. Sitting through it again I came away feeling that I enjoyed the experience more this time. Since I had no expectations regarding the action and storyline I focused more on the characters/script and was able to glean more from its clever dialogue, subtle visuals and intricate details associated with the well executed screenplay.
I thought Terrence Howard was quite good in the role of Rhodey and was sorry to see that he would not be part of this film. When I heard that Don Cheadle was his replacement I wasn’t worried and of course he was solid. Scarlett Johansson is also a welcomed addition and although I wasn’t crazy about the development of his character I liked Sam Rockwell’s performance. Mickey Rourke continues to impress me with the dedication he displays toward his craft. A few noteworthy cameos go out to John Slattery, Garry Shandling and the smoking hot Kate Mara. I look forward to seeing more of Sam Jackson because he is tailor made to play Nick Fury. Smaller roles from the likes of Sam Rockwell and While I was initially a little disappointed with Iron man 2 I feel that it probably as good as Iron man in that it captures the essence of the Iron man mythos in a compelling, exciting and contemporary way that is lots of fun. As an Iron man comic fan I can’t think of higher praise.
*I am pleased to report that this Blu-ray Disc loaded fast and trouble free on my Oppo BDP-83, Panasonic BD-55 and Playstation 3 Blu-ray players.*
The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and some language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Iron man 2 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.1 Mbps.
This is an excellent video presentation that that boasts image quality that is indicative of a newer release film coming to Blu-ray. Resolution is generally strong as images have crisp definition and lucid clarity. Objects onscreen appear dimensionally strong with exquisite rendering that discloses subtle minutia captured by the camera’s lens during close ups. The level of sharpness fluctuated some however this is attributable the extensive CGI used and I never felt it adversely affected the quality of what I was seeing. The range of colors used appears vibrant with warm vivid hues and delineated textures that look great in high definition. Fleshtones are naturally rendered with warm accents that give them lifelike tonality. Blacks are inky and noise free with discernibly deep and variant shades that enhance the films many dark sequences. Contrast is elevated slightly which gives the image a dynamic quality that occasionally overdrives whites but rarely infringes upon fidelity. The deep shadows, gradational grays, delineated colors, and inky blacks looked terrific on my large screen. I didn’t see any overt signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise.
After seeing Iron Man 2 theatrically I looked forward to experiencing its lossless soundtrack on my calibrated system and of course it did not disappoint. The high resolution DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix makes for a dynamic presentation that features hard hitting transient peaks and subterranean bass that will reward those with systems capable of reproducing them. Low frequency effects are used authoritatively to underscore the bombastic and aggressive nature of this soundtrack and it does so quite effectively. Its palpable presence is never in question as it fills the room with refined bass quality that is appreciably superior and downright room shaking. A great example of this can be found in chapter 13 as Tony creates the new element/power source for his chest piece. As the energy becomes focused and more intense there is a teetering infrasonic low frequency tone associated with it that made me smile. This is a sophisticated sound design that is loaded with various sound effects, spatial cues, music, and dialogue. Each is clearly rendered with enriching dynamism, and high level detail via an aggressive surround mix that where appropriate utilizes the entire system to envelope and revolve around the listening position. John Debney’s music score is a perfect mate for the spirit of the film as it is often blended with action sequences and sounds superb. Dialogue is clearly rendered and variably distinctive. Occasionally I would have preferred that it be a bit more prominent within the mix but intelligibility was never an issue.
Iron man 2 on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount appears faithful to the film’s theatrical presentation and makes for an enthralling home theater experience. Enjoy!
- Audio commentary with director Jon Favreau
- (HD) S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault – Interactive feature that allows viewers to view case files, dossiers, training films and technical info attached to select scenes from the film via a pop-up screen. These features are also available via a selectable menu.
- (HD) Previsualizations and animatics – View storyboards and animatics of key sequences via a PiP window that plays along with the film.
- (HD) Ultimate Iron man: The making of Iron man 2 (4 segments with a play all option):
- Rebuilding the suit – 21 minutes
- A return to action – 17 minutes
- Expanding the universe – 19 minutes
- Building a legacy – 20 minutes
- (HD) Featurettes (6 segments with a play all option):
- Creating Stark Expo – 6 minutes
- Practical meets digital – 8 minutes
- Illustrated origin: Nick Fury – 6 minutes
- Illustrated origin: Black Widow – 3 minutes
- Illustrated origin: War Machine – 4 minutes
- Working with DJ AM – 2 minutes
- (HD) 8 Deleted scenes with optional director commentary
- Concept art gallery – 11 segments with various production photos
- (HD) Theatrical trailers (3), trailers for Iron man 2 Sega game and animated Avengers movie
- (HD) Music video: “Shoot to thrill” by AC/DC
- Bonus DVD of Iron man 2
- Digital Copy of Iron man 2
Reminiscent of the original both thematically and in scope Iron man 2 is a fan friendly action film that captures the essence of the Iron man mythos in a compelling, exciting and contemporary way that is lots of fun. Speaking of fun its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount HE is a good one that delivers superlative audio/video quality that that makes for an enthralling home theater experience. Add to that the inclusion of a comprehensive bonus features set, bonus DVD and digital copy discs and you have a must have addition to your Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package