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Iron Man 2 (2010) Print E-mail
Monday, 04 October 2010
ImageWe all know that sequels don’t live up to the original more than 90 percent of the time.  There are the exceptional few like “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Godfather Part II.”  There is usually a third category that is rarely mentioned.  That is one of limbo.  It isn’t really better than the original.  It isn’t worse than the original, but at the same time it really isn’t on the same level as the original.  “Iron Man 2” is one of those sequels.

The film doesn’t lack some much as is too extraneous.  There are too many aspects of the film that keep breaking you from the cinematic experience, in particular, Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke.  These two villains are way over the top that it becomes a comical nuisance.  Sure, the first couple times that Hammer (Sam Rockwell) throws his temper tantrums it is amusing.  But it doesn’t take long for those fits to just make you want to punch his lights out so the film can move on.

Mickey Rourke, the other villain, Ivan Vanko, seems to work in a movie within the movie.  He is isolated to his own world, never really becoming part of the film.

Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) is the key to this film’s success.  He is back in full swing.  His delivery and personality is what carries the film, along with his sultry sidekicks Miss Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson).  Of course, the funniest lines and deliveries are all in the trailer, so the only let down is that there weren’t more of them.

I hate to point this out, but Samuel L. Jackson cast as Nick Fury is the dumbest move since Master Windu in “Star Wars.”  Oh wait, that was Samuel L. Jackson too.  He just doesn’t fit into either one of these characters.  Once it was announced that Jackson would be portraying Nick Fury, there was an uproar on the forums as to the ethnicity of the character versus the actor.  I can see why true comic book fans would be upset at this casting, it is not the ethnicity that makes Jackson bad at Nick Fury, it is the lack of any good development on part of the writers.  The writers seemed to spend all their time on Stark’s sarcasm, which is top notch.
As for the story, “Iron Man 2” doesn’t exactly deliver the goods.  Coherency is lacking despite a linear progression.  We already know where the film is going so I suppose we just want the filmmakers to get there without delay.  However, the filmmakers do give the audience some treats along the way.  With the opening, the race track in Monte Carlo, the showdown at Stark’s Malibu mansion and the ultimate showdown at the end, there is plenty to keep you entertained.

The end of the final showdown may be a bit anti-climatic, but hey that’s Hollywood.  Overall, this film works as an entertaining blockbuster.

This Blu-ray release contains an excellent video transfer that remains true to the source.  The gritty nature of Jon Favreau’s directorial style is preserved here.  As with the first “Iron Man,” the image takes on an almost sepia tone look during parts.  Images are cold and clean, evident of the technological era.  There isn’t a lot of warmth in the image, except for key sequences like Monte Carlo and moments between Pepper and Tony and Tony and Natalie.  Shadow delineation remains strong, with only the occasional loss of details.  Textures are well defined, providing intricate details.  Just take a look at Vanko’s electrical whips.  There is an instance or two of banding.  However, major artifacting is pleasantly absent from the transfer.  Film grain is nice and tight.  This is definitely a solid video transfer.

Don’t let the big blockbuster status of this film fool you when it comes to the audio.  Unfortunately, it is not all it is cracked up to be.  Most people will let the overwhelming arrays of sound effects cloud their judgment when it comes to really understanding this audio track.  On the plus side, sound effects are heavy and accurately panned throughout the soundfield.  Directionality is generally spot on.  The LFE channel is solid and permeates the room effortlessly.  As far as high-octane blockbusters go, this audio track has a fair amount of dynamic range.  Where the audio fails is in the dialogue and music.  The AC/DC tracks throughout this film are nearly ear-piercing.  The high frequencies group together causing a comb filtering effect that is most unpleasant.  This seems to tame after the opening act of the film.  Furthermore, the dialogue is constantly hindered by the sound effects and music.  On more than one occasion words in dialogue are lost due to over shadowing elements.  This is generally a result of subpar mixing.  So, as far as sonic experience, this film will deliver when it comes to action sequences.  Anything in between is more up for grabs.

In the single-disc version there are two key special features.  The first is an audio commentary with director Jon Favreau.  Fans will get a lot from his in depth commentary.  However, be aware that sometimes Favreau simply states what we are seeing on screen, which is unfortunate.  The other special feature is “S.H.I.E.L.D Data Vault.”  This is an interactive feature that allows you to explore the data archives, with information on characters, weapons and Stark Technology.  The two-disc version of the film contains more special features on a second Blu-ray disc.

“Iron Man 2” is definitely good fun, but the extraneous elements of the film hinder its progression.  The audio quality is not all it is cracked up to be, but the video quality remains impressive.  I recommend this disc to all Blu-ray and film fans.

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