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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Iron Man 3

September 23rd, 2013

Iron Man 3 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack or 3D Combo Pack

Iron Man 3 was the first Marvel Comics movie since The Avengers broke records. Expectations for this film rose dramatically as a result of that film's box office success, not to mention its critical acclaim. Can Iron Man 3 live up to these expectations? Or has The Avengers set the bar too high?

The Movie

The film begins on New Year's Day in 1999 where Tony Stark is at a party with Dr. Maya Hansen. He's drunk and acting like an ass to pretty much everyone. This includes Aldrich Killian, who wants to offer Tony Stark a ground level position in his new organization, Advanced Idea Mechanics. Tony Starks blows him off, partially because he's much more interested in getting it on with Dr. Hansen, but also because he's drunk and an ass.

We flash forward to today with Tony Stark testing out his latest Iron Man suit, the Mark 42. Autonomous Prehensile Propulsion Suit. The test goes well, sort of. It goes about as well as you would expect it to go, considering Stark hadn't slept in 72 hours. It seems the battle that took place in The Avengers PTSD and he hasn't been dealing with it well. Matters are worse when he hears about The Mandarin, a new terrorist determined to teach America a lesson.

To combat this threat, President Ellis rechristens War Machine to The Iron Patriot. Stark does offer his assistance to James Rhodes, but Rhodes says it's not a job for Superheroes. While discussing the details of these attacks (most of which have not been made public) Stark has a panic attack and has to leave.

The film then switches to Stark Industries, where Happy Hogan is now head of security and causing more problems for Pepper Potts than he is worth, but he's a friend, so... Today she has more to deal with, as she's got a meeting with Aldrich Killian. She knew him in the past, but she barely recognizes him. He's there to woe her into investing in the latest project, Extremis. He's recoding human DNA to improve the brain. It sounds exciting, but to Pepper, it sounds like a super soldier program. It's too easy to turn his work into a weapon, so she rejects it. He leaves without putting up a fuss, but Happy's suspicious of him, and his cohort, Eric Savin. He decides to follow Savin around, just in case.

Happy's paranoia turns out to be good instincts. After we see a bit of Stark's home life and how the PSTD is affecting him, we see Happy tailing Savin. He sees Savin give a veteran a case, and in order to see what is in the case, Happy bumps into the vet knocking the case to the ground, which causes the contents to be spilled to the ground. The vet has a red glow appear, which unnerves Happy, but Happy still manages to pocket one of the items. Unfortunately, Savin spots him and tries to take it back. Happy can handle himself in most fights, but Savin isn't your average man. He glows red. The fight isn't long, but it is interrupted when the vet begins screaming and glowing red, only to explode. Happy manages to find cover, but is still very badly hurt. Many others are killed instantly. Savin, on the other hand, simply walks away.

Stark visits Happy in the hospital with Happy in what I assume is a medically induced coma. He's in bad shape. When The Mandarin takes credit for this attack, Stark promises to kill him out of revenge, straight up revenge. Later that day, Stark is trying to find clues to where The Mandarin is, but the only clue he can come up with is Rose Hill, Tennessee and he tells Jarvis to set a flight path there. Before he can go, he's visited by Dr. Maya Hansen, who tells Stark he has to leave. His threat against The Mandarin will get him killed. Pepper Potts has already come to that conclusion and is packed and ready to go. Unfortunately, the warning comes a little too late and Stark's home is attacked by three choppers. Pepper Potts and Dr. Hansen get away, Stark's not quite so lucky. He's knocked into the ocean and if it weren't for Jarvis going into auto pilot mode and rescuing him, he might have died.

Jarvis decides to fly to Rose Hill, Tennessee, because that's the last place Stark told him to set a flight path for. Unfortunately, by the time they get there, the suit is out of power and Stark's stuck there. At least he meets a child sidekick.

That's probably a good point to end the plot summary and move onto the review.

One of the downsides of my job is the amount of research I have to do, which means I rarely get to see a movie without knowing a lot more of the plot details than most people do when they first see a movie. Iron Man 3 is no exception. While the film's reviews were overwhelmingly positive, there were four main complaints.

First, a lot of people didn't like the changes made to The Mandarin from the source material. I can't go into details due to spoilers, but I have absolutely no problem with how the character is portrayed in the movie. In the comics, the Mandarin is a super villain that uses ten "magic" rings. Yes, I know they are actually based on alien technology, but for all intents and purposes, they are magic. Using the comic book version of this character wouldn't fit with the tone of the movies. Granted, I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of Iron Man villains, but of the main ones, only Fin Fang Foom would be a worse fit in the Iron Man movies than the Magic Rings version of the Mandarin.

The second main complain was Harley, the child sidekick. Admittedly, child sidekicks are usually a disaster and I was really worried this would kill this movie. This didn't happen. Harley didn't kill the movie. In fact, while Harley wasn't a highlight of the movie, more worked than didn't. We'll call that a victory and move on.

The third and fourth main complaints both involve the finales, so ... Spoiler warnings. In the finale, Jarvis remote controls a number of the Iron Man suits to use in the final battle. This is a real problem, because if Jarvis can remote control a number of Iron Man suits at the same time, what's the point of putting Tony Stark in the suit? I think the screenwriters just wanted a really big action scene at the end and didn't really think about the consequences. The other main problem a lot of people had with the end was when Pepper Potts is given the Extremis procedure and after Tony Stark and Aldrich Killian have a massive fight, Pepper Potts comes to Tony's rescue and delivers the killing blow. A lot of people had a problem with this, but I'm not sure why. It's not like regular old Pepper Potts was able to take on and kill the main bad guy. At this point, she had super powers. And she didn't kill Aldrich Killian, she merely got the killing blow. After his fight with Tony Stark, Aldrich Killian was barely able to stand. I really don't see why this is an issue.

Granted, Iron Man 3 is weaker than the first film, but there's more than enough here that works that overall it is a very solid action film. Personally, I think this film is better than Star Trek Into Darkness.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD include a 9-minute making of featurette that looks at the attack on Air Force One. There is also a short preview for Thor: The Dark World. That's it for the DVD, and it is not enough.

The Blu-ray exclusives begin with yet another Marvel One-Shot, this one is Agent Carter. It looks at Peggy Carter and what happened after work with Captain America. This is worth the upgrade by itself. Iron Man 3 Unmasked is an 11-minute making of featurette. There are ten deleted / extended scenes with a total running time of just over 16 minutes, while there are also 5 minutes of outtakes. Finally, there is an audio commentary track.

The technical presentation is, as expected, amazing. It cost $200 million to make, it better look damn near flawless on high definition, and it does. The level of details is never not incredible, even in the many night time scenes. The colors are always gorgeous, while the contrast and sharpness never fail to impress. The audio is equally amazing, as the 7.1 surround sound track is filled with directional effects, panning, zooms, etc. and all of it creates an immersive experience, while never drowning out the dialog. Overall, it is reference level material.

Unfortunately, I don't have the 3-D film to compare.

The prices for the DVD, Blu-ray, and 3D releases are $18, $25, and $32 respectively. That's a fair deal, but not a great deal.

The Verdict

Iron Man 3 is one of the best action films of the year. Pacific Rim might top it, but it's the only one in my opinion. If you are interested in renting, the DVD is a fine choice. However, if you want to buy, go with the Blu-ray Combo Pack or the 3D Combo Pack there are enough exclusive extras and the technical presentation is awesome and worth the extra money.

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Filed under: Video Review, Iron Man 3, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, William Sadler, Ty Simpkins, James Badge Dale