Iron Man Ultimate 2-Disc Edition
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-09-19 DVD Movie T (Teen) Paramount Home Entertainment

Iron Man... wow, where do I begin? Going into it, I have to admit that I was a bit torn. After all of the months of praise for the film, I was sure it was going to be at least somewhat enjoyable, but I kept finding myself remembering how bad recent cross-media adaptations have turned out (Uwe Boll, I'm looking at you). Luckily though, it is obvious that Mr. Boll was nowhere near this one, as Iron Man is downright awesome from beginning to end.

The film introduces viewers to the egotistical Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the world's greatest arms dealer. A brilliant inventor, Stark lives a life of absolute luxury until it all blows up in his face... literally. While traveling in Afghanistan to unveil his newest missile, the Jericho, to American troops, his convoy is attacked, and Stark is taken prisoner.

A victim of an explosion, Stark finds himself in the hands of terrorists, kept alive only by the car battery powered electromagnet implanted in his chest which is keeping the shrapnel from said explosion from entering his heart and killing him. The terrorists' demands are simple enough: build another Jericho missile for their own use or die.

Stark, being the genius that he is, has other plans and instead spends his time constructing a suit of iron that allows him to escape his confines. From there, the movie becomes a fast-paced adventure filled with the usual suspects: backstabbing villains, broken trust, plot twists and even a bit of romance. That's not to say the film is predictable, as even I have to admit I didn?t see the movie?s main villain coming until it was already too late.

As with any confident superhero, internal conflicts often arise, and Stark is no different. After hearing of innocent refugees that have been killed with his own weapons, Stark instantly finds himself torn between the thought that at any one time, someone somewhere in the world is dying at the hands of something he created, and the thought of making more money. What follows after Stark makes his decision contains enough explosions, special effects and completely bad-ass action to satisfy even the biggest Iron Man fans.

With such an established character, the challenge of finding an appropriate actor to fill Stark's grand shoes couldn't have been an easy one. While the pick of Robert Downey Jr. may have thrown some people at first (myself included), I am happy to say that Downey plays the role perfectly.

Not only does Downey actually look like Stark, but he portrays the character in such a way that you can easily see the turmoil filling his mind and instantly become attached to his well-being, even if you know that he's not the purest of men.

The rest of the cast performs equally well, with Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark's forever-loyal assistant Pepper Potts, and Terrence Howard as Rhodey, Stark's man in the military.

But even after watching the film, your Iron Man experience is far from over, as this is the 2-disc "Ultimate Edition" after all.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a junkie for extra features, and this 2-disc version of the film doesn't disappoint in that department. Not only do you get the standards like deleted and extended scenes, but Paramount and Marvel have also thrown in still galleries, visual effects and making-of documentaries, screen tests and more!

Best of all, for those who aren't familiar with the history of Iron Man in comics, there's a 45 minute, six-part documentary filled with interviews with Stan Lee, Gerry Conway, and many other writers and artists from the various Iron Man comic lines.

The documentary begins by explaining Stan Lee's vision for the comic-book when it was created in the Cold War era of the 60's, and introduced readers to the confident, wealthy, charismatic, weapon manufacturing industrialist Tony Stark. The documentary then follows Stark?s transformation into Iron Man after being injured and subsequently captured in Vietnam, and takes you all the way up to the Ultimate Iron Man line of comic books currently being released.

Towards the end of the documentary (and this is the reason I've gone on for so long about it), there's quite a chunk of time spent on Iron Man Extremis, which can easily be seen as the greatest source of inspiration for 2008's blockbuster. Like Extremis, the film takes place in completely modern times, with Stark being first injured in the Middle East rather than Vietnam. Furthermore, the film contains a journalist much like the Extremis line of comics that challenges Stark's role in the killing of innocent victims, when his weapons have ended up in the wrong hands.

All in all, Iron Man is one of those great films that offers up enough fan service to keep diehard fans happy, but also provides enough background information early on for complete newcomers to fit right in. With tons of great extras, a fantastic special-effects filled plot, and an ending that definitely leaves room for a sequel, whether you're a previous fan of the franchise or not, there?s no reason not to pick this one up.