Iron Man, the Ultimate 2-Disc Edition, is a masterstroke for a multitude of film fans. First and foremost, for fans of Robert Downey Jr., master actor. For fans of Stan Lee, super hero mastermind. And fans of the masterworks of Marvel Comics. Even effects fans get googols of geek info and techno tidbits in the Extras.
The story is about a powerful fat cat, Obadiah Shane (Jeff Bridges), gone greedy, and playboy Tony Stark's awakening, (Downey). The entrepreneurial business partners are uber successful weapon manufacturers.
The updated military caper plays out on the bleak battlegrounds of the Middle East and in the billionaire boardrooms off Wall Street It's a war of the suits. Literally.
On a desert in Afghanistan, genius engineer Stark is wounded and captured with shrapnel permanently lodged perilously close to his heart. With an ingenious magnetic pacemaker thingy, he lives; with an armored jet-packed spacesuit, he escapes.
Meanwhile, back in the boardroom, a scheming Shane scams, wangles, wheedles, and cons his way closer to controlling the company - and the world. While he secretly peddles weaponry to foes and friends alike, Shane endeavors to build a yet more malevolent zooming zoot suit.
Back in the lab, Stark, with his own evolving steely ensembles, has converted from martial artist to disarming peacenik. Let the bionic battles begin.
Of course, conforming to comic protocol, Stark has an adoring assistant, red headed Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who devoutly waits for him and on him. She jockeys and juggles wanting and saving his ass. Terence Howard plays best pal. Both are expected to make curtain calls in the sequel.
Since I am an outed Extras junky, my bias is clear. Most of the Special Features were good. (I have to say, mutual congratulatory segments are always a bore. And much of the yapping is too talky. Where are the editors when you need them? Yes, we know you became a Marvel fan the instant Dad slipped a comic in your crib.)
On the upside, interviews with Iron Man creator Stan Lee and Marvel Comic artists show the fascinating transition of Tony Stark, from Vietnam hero to twenty first century centurion.
The mini-survey segment of comic art styles and comic macho men demonstrates the lure of the genre for a generation of readers.
When a director (here, Jon Favreau) assembles the top-tier talent of Hollywood to make a summer blockbuster, you sometimes get what the dollars paid for (here, 140 million plus).
The Special Features ably show off how the money was spent. That includes the not-as-fit Downey audition footage. And especially good coverage of the mechanical gadgets, motorized gizmos and computerized machines.
Particularly fascinating are the scenes and interviews at the Winston Studios, where the late, great and healthy looking Stan Winston talks about his craft. The studio tour shows construction and operation of the amazing contraptions that co-star with Downey.
The Winston evolution of the iron suit, from paper to clay to the final wearable armed garment, is footage well spent.
I hated to learn that a 50,000 dollar custom car was crushed for the sake of credulity. Sometimes a computer is kinder. But Favreau likes it real.
A visit to Edwards Air Force Base to honor the acting extras was a nod to the omnipresent compulsion to be patriotic. A realistic real-life reality check.
The deleted scenes were a tribute to Dan Lebental, the film's editor. They were not missed. Good job.
So skip the Deletes. For those who crave more, try a second viewing or wait for the sequel.
And since the movie Iron Man launched Marvel Movie Studios, you can soon expect to see Stan Lee with more of his heroic he-men blasting off in theaters near you.
(Editor's Note: If you have a BD-Live, Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player, you can download the Iron Man IQ, "an in-movie quiz to test your Iron Man knowledge." Also, accessible on all Blu-ray players, there is a Stan Lee Easter egg.)
Studios: Marvel & Paramount
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terence Howard
Length: 125 minutes
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2:35:1
Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese