During Iron Man's theatrical release, it was regarded as the best comic-book adaptation to date, and there is a lot of merit to that claim. The story has a strong dramatic flavor, and Robert Downey Jr. is on top of his game as the billionaire playboy. Much like Superman: The Movie, the story comes first and the action elements serve only to complement, not dominate, the screen time. I like explosions as much as the next guyand there are plenty in Iron Manbut in the end, I empathized with Tony and understood his desire to change the world.
The video presentation is a mixed bag. Detail is on the soft side, especially during the first act, although it improves as the film progresses. Color saturation is excellent, with deep reds, vivid blues, and rich golds, especially on Iron Man's armor. Black levels are somewhat elevated, harming the depth of the image. On a positive note, the CG integrates surprisingly well, which generally isn't the case on Blu-ray, creating a very lifelike image and blurring the lines between what's real and what's computer-generated.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is a demo showpiece with foundation-shaking bass and an extremely active surround mix with discrete effects flying around the room. Depth and detail are superb, from the tiniest crunch of crushed pebbles to the visceral impact of a sidewinder missile's mid-air explosion. A dogfight between Iron Man and a couple of F-22 Raptors exemplifies how the effective use of panning can draw a viewer into the action. Iron Man is a disc best played at reference level, so send the kids to their friends' house for a sleepover and crank up the volume!
Note: There is a metadata error on this title that inadvertently turns on DRC (Dynamic Range Compression), which compresses the dynamic range of the soundtrack. Once the movie starts, double-check the settings in your AVR and turn off DRC. On my Onkyo pre/pro, it's the "night mode" button on the remote.
As one of the most anticipated Blu-ray releases of 2008, Iron Man is loaded with supplements that are both entertaining and informativeand all in high definition! Disc one includes a "Hall of Armor," deleted/extended scenes, BD-Live content (not active until street date), and a six-part documentary, "The Invincible Iron Man," delving into the character's roots with interviews with creator Stan Lee and others who worked on the comic book. Disc two explores the creative process of bringing the character to the silver screen with a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects, rehearsals, a screen test of Robert Downey Jr., theatrical trailers, and much more.
Iron Man has a captivating story, first-rate special effects, and splendid acting from Robert Downey Jr. and the supporting cast. It's easy to see why this was one of the biggest hits of 2008, and its treatment on Blu-ray is magnificent, especially the reference-quality TrueHD soundtrack. Highly recommended.
Release Date: September 30, 2008
Movie: 8 out of 10
Picture: 8 out of 10
Sound: 10 out of 10
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector