Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 31 Old 10-06-10, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

Studio Name: Paramount (Marvel Studios)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Disc/Transfer Information: Widescreen 2.39:1 1080p High Definition
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow


In the interest of saving time because this review is already late and overdue, I am including below my thoughts from the theatrical exhibition of the film, to be followed by the technical specs review for Paramount’s Blu-ray release…

I wanted to see this on opening night -- but I just couldn't get around to it, and the wife had a headache. I just returned from seeing it, and I don't really know where to start -- the biggest disappointment has to be the removal of Terrence Howard as Rhodes, and the "parlaying" Jon Favreau did with the villain characterization...I'll get to that.

In what seemed like a quick arrival to the screen since the original, Iron Man 2 isn't the standard setter for this genre like Spider Man 2 was or The Dark Knight since it, but it is a kick-butt roller coaster of effects and Transformers-like fight sequences (which may or may not be a good thing). The thing I had the most problem with was the "invention" of Mickey Rourke's "Whiplash" villain character, as I discovered after some online research, was a weird hybrid of the comic based Whiplash (who wasn't Russian) and the "Crimson Dynamo;" it seemed like a Frankenstein of a character creation. But while Rourke was highly criticized for his "hammy" performance of the Russian scientist of sorts out for revenge at the Stark family, I thought he was quite good in it -- tattooed from head to toe and sporting a nasty disposition with a ridiculous physique to boot, Rourke played the Whiplash/Ivan Vanko position frighteningly enough.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here; there are just so many things going on in this film, it almost suffers from the Spider-Man 3 syndrome. First, we have Downey Jr. returning as Stark, who, as it goes in all superhero film sequels, is now enjoying his notoriety as Iron Man -- flying into the "Stark Expo" in Flushing, New York, Stark, as Iron Man, is greeting by screaming hot chicks and ridiculously hot cheerleaders in Iron Man get ups. This reminded me of Peter Parker's stint in Spidey 3, when he kisses the police chief's daughter at the outdoor "key to the city" event. The film actually opens, prior to these Stark happenings, with an audio cue from the first film replaying the final press conference voiceovers from Downey Jr.; we are then taken into the world of Ivan Vanko in Russia, who cares for his dying father as the two of them watch Tony Stark on the TV set. There is some kind of bad blood between Stark Industries and Vanko's father, and while I am uncertain as to how much of this is "genuine" to the comic universe, Rourke's character begins building a suit of armor in order to avenge his father -- and go straight after Stark himself.

Meanwhile, Stark is getting pressure from all sides to hand over his suit technology to the government -- the media, his friend Rhodes himself and the SHIELD operative. When he is called in front of a senate meeting, headed by Gary Shandling, he refuses to just hand over his company's technology secrets. This introduces many new characters to the fold, including a rival weapons developer that ends up joining forces with Rourke's Whiplash character (which is actually never referred to in the film). Before that happens, we are treated to perhaps one of the coolest moments in the film, when Stark decides to race a car in a Grand Prix event in Europe, and Rourke arrives to attack him with his homemade "whip suit," which contains long current-loaded "whips" in the wrist tips. As Whiplash's electric bolts cut through cars in the race, flipping them over, he eventually gets to Stark's car, as he threatens to kill Stark himself with the bolts -- that is, until Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) arrives with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow returning again) and they give Tony his "portable" suit frame so he can transform into Iron Man right there at the Grand Prix racetrack. The ensuing battle between Tony and Rourke, as Rourke deflects Iron Man's energy bursts from his hands with his whips, is sweaty palm-inducing and sets a great tone as the first fight sequence. As Rourke (Whiplash/Vanko) is defeated and arrested, we know that won't be the last we see of him.

Samuel L. Jackson returns as agent Nick Fury of SHIELD, and we get more hints about the upcoming Avengers project as well as the new Captain America film; some of the sequences with Jackson are silly and simply wasted in terms of someone with his acting abilities. Also on Jackson's team now is Scarlett Johansson, playing an undercover SHIELD agent who has infiltrated Stark Industries for the secret of his weapons through posing as a replacement for Pepper Potts when she is suddenly promoted to CEO of Tony's company. I know -- this all gets confusing, and believe me, the script suffered for it. For some reason, in discovering that the technology that's been keeping his heart running is now poisoning him, Stark relinquishes ownership of the company to Potts as he briefly "steps down" from being Iron Man (the conflict of identity we see many comic main leads suffer from, as Parker did in Spidey 2). Johansson as the -kickin' SHIELD agent that takes out more than a few security dudes towards the end with breathtaking martial arts agility that would give Catwoman and Elektra runs for their money. When she's not donning the black tight pants to kick , she's prancing around Downey Jr. as his stand in assistant.

But this whole SHIELD infiltration/Stark company relinquishment/Johansson involvement made the script much heavier and more complicated than it needed to be. Then, there's the issue of Rhodes (now played by Don Cheadle who doesn't do any justice to the character) getting into the backup Mark suit of Tony's to become "War Machine"...these sequences were plain silly, especially the one in which a DJ AM-attended birthday bash for Tony at his mansion is wrecked when Rhodes puts on the silver-finished suit to "battle" Stark in order to stop him from making a drunk out of himself in front of dozens of little-black-dress-donning blonde hotties. The two of them fight it out in the two suits, to the backdrop of the late DJ AM spinning "Another One Bites the Dust," and it was utterly ridiculous.

There's also some kind of backstory involving Tony's father Howard, told through Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury character, and after watching old footage of his father speaking about the "Stark Expo" of his age, Downey Jr. finds a way to create a new element in his lab that replaces the receptacle element of his chest piece, thus saving him from imminent death. This new triangular chest piece looks cool beneath his red and gold armor, and signals the new look the comics took in current times with regard to the character. But some of this whole thing about Howard Hughes and then Tony creating the new element was a bit hokey; I just didn't care for it. In the meantime, Tony's rival in the weapons industry plans to put him out of business in the next New York expo, and arranges to have Rourke broken out of prison so he can be of assistance. Returning to his Queens, New York-based lab, "Hammer" makes a deal with Rourke's Vanko character to help him build drone robot suits based on Stark's design. Vanko, of course, has his own plans for Stark, and sets up the film's dramatic final fight sequence.

The premise is that Rhodey and Stark team up as War Machine and Iron Man to take on Hammer's out-of-control robot drones and ultimately Whiplash himself, who arrives at the end of the fight in a massive War Monger-like suit with the whip tentacles. Vanko, in controlling the drones from Hammer's headquarters while Hammer himself hosts the expo, programs the robot drones to attack the expo and Iron Man who has shown up at the event -- to make matters worse, he has taken control of Rhodes' suit as well, which is equipped with a machine gun-like weapon on the shoulder, and has programmed that too to take out Iron Man. Eventually, Tony and Rhodes regain control of the suit, take out the remaining drone suits, and the final fight between Iron Man, War Machine and Whiplash takes place in the middle of a New York park.

What I didn't like about this approach was what rubbed me the wrong way in Spider-Man 3, in which Spidey "needed" Harry's help to fight Sandman and Venom. There's something about the main hero requiring the help of another ally to take on two -- or sometimes one -- villain that doesn't seem right. In any event, there are key clues to upcoming comic adaptation projects that are hinted at in this film and aren't to be missed -- one involves a connection between Stark's father and the "Super Soldier" program that involved Captain America (as there's a sneak peek into his shield in this, but it's a bit hazy and hokey) and the other is at the very end of the credits...which I won't divulge. Just don't leave the theater until the credits have stopped rolling. It seems we're in for yet another comic character realization on the big screen...

Iron Man 2 was definitely fun. I will be buying it on Blu-ray. According to online rumor, Favreau wishes to introduce The Mandarin as the next super-villain in part 3, but he's having a hard time figuring out where he will fit in this new technologically-advanced world he has created in the film versions of Iron Man; Mandarin was already hinted to in the first film with the inclusion of the "Ten Rings," a reference to the "magical rings" manipulated by the Mandarin comic character. Still, I thought Mandarin was going to show up in this one as the villain.

I'm looking forward to this and the Captain America project, as well as the tie-in second Hulk film...as rumor has it, a Thor motion picture should surface and then Iron Man 3 before an Avengers project hits the big screen.


While a solid transfer for most of the disc’s running time, there was something about Iron Man 2’s Blu-ray image that didn’t really leap off the screen; some sequences were marred with a softish look to them, perhaps for stylistic decisions, but I expected a bit more pop from a first-rate, big budget high def release. In fact, I found the video transfer of the first film on Blu-ray to look better. Darker scenes had the most of these “milky, soft” features but retained great shadow detail – the outdoor sets looked lovely in detail and richness, and Downey’s iron suit looked as colorful as ever, but there was still that last edge of “wow” that was missing from this transfer to rate it as truly stellar.


The DTS-HD Master Audio track in an English 5.1 configuration (for the Region 1 releases) was another story altogether – wow…this has to be the defacto demo disc in terms of LFE assault for the Blu-ray format thus far. My sub bottomed out when it simply couldn’t take the turmoil of the hot LFE channel, and my walls were rattling almost nonstop during the audition of this track. In a curious switch from Dolby TrueHD as heard on the first film’s Blu-ray, Paramount equipped the sequel with a smashing Master Audio track that gets just about everything right (actually, it shouldn’t be so “curious” at all, as it seems every studio has abandoned Dolby’s TrueHD codec – I still don’t have the jury on that one).

But boy…from beginning to end, does this track pummel your theater room – notable standout moments included the first fight sequence between Mickey Rourke’s villain character and Downey Jr.'s at the Monaco Grand Prix, when with each smash of his “lightning whips,” the LFE channel thundered with a relentless pounding. Likewise when Rourke split the cars in half with his whips – the audible assault was truly astonishing with wallops of bass and heft. Also noteworthy was the final confrontation between Iron Man, War Machine and Rourke’s drone robots and Rourke’s final Whiplash suit – the audio soundscape came to such roaring life, it was a true example of what the lossless technology can do when done correctly. Throughout the feature, these aforementioned wallops of LFE were present almost constantly; there was a weight to the track that was very satisfying. Surround usage was aplenty, notably during the aforementioned Monaco race sequence when the cars were sensed speeding from one surround channel to another, and then from front to back – very impressive. Dialogue, while very very subtly quiet in some places, didn’t seem to be a problem.

But watch the bass on this one – if your sub runs a bit hot, as mine was, you may need to do a tweak or two of recalibration while the feature is on pause… this DTS-HD Master Audio mix is devastating in the LFE department.


This being the stripped-down single-disc version, this didn’t include anything extra to speak of; some commentary by Favreau and some interactive features – I was hoping for a comic background analysis like the first film’s Disc One carried, but that wasn’t here.


Definitely a buy, and I can’t wait for part three!

Last edited by Osage_Winter; 10-07-10 at 03:21 PM.
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post #2 of 31 Old 10-07-10, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

NOTE: Edits made to audio analysis section of the review, as well as content by moderators.
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post #3 of 31 Old 10-09-10, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

Has anyone else seen this yet?
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post #4 of 31 Old 10-09-10, 04:37 AM
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

Not me Im afraid. Living in the UK I have to watch on as you guys get the movies first
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post #5 of 31 Old 10-10-10, 01:45 PM
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

I have not yet either, i'm waiting to get a couple projects done before i watch a couple of movies one being the above and the other is Avatar.
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post #6 of 31 Old 10-10-10, 06:44 PM
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

On order!

Home Theatre...the never ending story!

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post #7 of 31 Old 10-10-10, 07:33 PM
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

While I haven't seen WOTW to compare to Iron Man 2 on blu ray (disliked the movie), nothing I have seen has come close in overall LFE content to Iron Man 2. I thought LOTR had great use of LFE, but in this movie I can't even describe it, I was simply awestruck.
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post #8 of 31 Old 10-10-10, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

Moonfly wrote: View Post
Not me Im afraid. Living in the UK I have to watch on as you guys get the movies first
Thanks Moonfly!

Sorry about the fact that you get the releases after us. I should have mentioned in the specifications section at the beginning of the review that this was a Region 1 (U.S.) copy I reviewed (and purchased)...

Did you see the first one? The second one really kicks it up a notch...
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post #9 of 31 Old 10-10-10, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

bambino wrote: View Post
I have not yet either, i'm waiting to get a couple projects done before i watch a couple of movies one being the above and the other is Avatar.
Hey Bambino,

I haven't seen Avatar yet either; did you see the first Iron Man? You a fan of the comic based film adaptations?

This one -- as I pointed out in the review and as Ironglen also confirmed -- REALLY gives your sub a workout, as the LFE track is simply punishing. I had to drop my sub's calibration down one notch since watching Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray. This one, as Ironglen also stated, may compete with War of the Worlds' DTS track for most bass over the past few years...

Let me know what you think if you get around to seeing Iron Man 2!
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post #10 of 31 Old 10-10-10, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage Reviews...IRON MAN 2 (Blu-ray; Paramount/Marvel Studios)

Prof. wrote: View Post
On order!
For purchase or Netflix rental?

Did you see it in theaters as well, or will this be the first time?
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