When the first Iron Man came out, it was a much needed jolt to the superhero film genre, providing a fun take on a oft-neglected but beloved character from Marvel Comics history. It had a fresh and appropriate cast, good humor and exciting action-pieces from a surprising choice of director, Jon Favreau, of Swingers, Elf and Zathura fame.
But it worked. Now two years later, we have the expected sequel. Does it capture the same magic? It does, it’s there, but it’s overwhelmed by the ever-present need to make things bigger, louder and faster. There were times when I questioned whether it wasn’t being directed by Michael Bay. By the end I was a bit exhausted by it all.
The story is a bit simple, but a natural evolve from the first film, with its chin-scratching primary theme (heavy artillery solves everything?) but also feels a bit tiresome. It feels as though the filmmakers don’t know how to provide a worthy adversary for Iron Man unless it is, or is in, a metal suit as well.
Regardless of whether Tony Stark’s plight is believable or relatable, the movie isn’t anything near a chore to watch. There are some engaging action sequences and interesting developments with S.H.I.E.L.D., which was introduced in the previous film’s after-credits sequence.
If you’re a fan of the first movie, it’ll be worth a watch, but you might be wondering by the end how much longer the series could last.
Be sure to stay after the credits for another bonus scene.
The first Iron Man was a huge hit on Blu-ray, but it’s video quality wasn’t near the best of the bunch even at the time. The sequel is greatly improved, but is slightly inconsistent.
Most of the film is greatly detailed and vibrant, but there are still large handfuls of soft shots and what looks like selective DNR. Certain scenes and faces have that soft, overly smooth look to it, reminiscent of light processing. It could be how it was filmed, but the result is still the same. Some scenes even have, again, selective, edge enhancement. One scene in particular, featuring Black Widow engaged in a fight, features very noticeable artificial sharpening. Thankfully, these instances are very rare and could be missed by most viewers.
This extends to facial details as well. Oddly enough, most of the image quality issues seem to improve in the second half of the movie. Contrast is very good, as well as black levels. Shadow detail is average as well, but I noticed at times that imagery tended to get soft in some of the low-lit scenes.
Anytime Iron Man (i.e. CGI) steps on screen however, picture quality is sublime. Detail, contrast, colors all go through the roof. Prime examples are the fight scene at the Monaco Grand-Prix race-track, and in the final set-piece, set divergently in a park at night-time. Both scenes showcase the excellent dynamic range and are certainly moments of reference quality video.
As was the case with the first film, Iron Man 2’s audio is another big-budget knock out of the park. This might have led to the exhaustion I described in the first section of the review. It’s an assault on the ears, and rightfully so.
Bass is where this track shines most. LFE content is prodigious and deep, enveloping the listener with room-pressurizing force. With the flexible sound design opportunity allowed in a film like this, plenty of situations call for some nice oomph added to the low end.
Surround sound usage and speaker separation are all highly utilized and seamless, with a few very cool implementations. Ambient surround is plentiful and realistic, most often shown off during Tony Stark’s infamous parties and exhibitions.
Great track overall, with very interesting and creative sound design, very good surround usage and great LFE content. Meets and exceeds expectation.
Special Features/Bonus Content
- 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)
- 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”
While the film may not live up to its predecessor, Iron Man 2 is still an enjoyable romp through the convoluted life of Tony Stark, and the consequences of leading such a life. The video, while inconsistent, reaches greatness most of the time, and audio is as good as you’d expect.