Iron Man isn’t the typical superhero, just a mega-rich genius whose technology made him powerful. But man, does he fit the bill. In Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr. once again plays the role well of Tony Stark (Iron Man) himself, striking a balance between super-human savior and flawed individual. With the Iron Man 3 debut on Blu-ray Disc, many viewers are seeing this performance, and this entertaining movie, for the first time, and they’re not likely to leave the sofa disappointed.
Iron Man 3 follows on the heels of a sequel that showed Tony Stark had some issues. True to form, those issues raise their head almost immediately in Iron Man 3, with Downey’s character unable to sleep and going on a binge of technology tinkering. That tinkering seems good at first, with a whole phalanx of Iron Man suits now at Downey’s disposal, and with an AI technology that lets a virtual army of Iron Men go after the bad guys.
That army is a good thing, as the Iron Man 3 plot focuses on a terrorist who sets out to kill innocent Americans on his way to ultimately doing the same as the President. As the story unfolds, viewers learn that things aren’t necessarily as they seem, at least on the surface, and that while the tinkering has created an army, it was done under sleep-deprived conditions that have some unanticipated consequences. Worse yet, at least from a superhero status, Stark is struggling with some inner demons and — dare I say it — some downright human emotions. Everything ends on the up and up, with the ending opening the door for an Iron Man 4, and if Downey can keep inserting this level of nuanced depth into his Iron Man performances, I’ll be the first in line to see it.
The Iron Man 3 Blu-ray Disc release performs almost as well, although there are a few minor miscues. The most notable of these is the audio track, which although presented in full 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio really doesn’t make much use of the surround channels. I understand that on-camera explosions are bound to come from the front and center speakers, but there’s no “splash” audio present at all, and it’s not unless something specifically explodes or flies off camera that you get any signs of life from the rear speakers. There’s great balance between environmental audio and dialogue, which is absolutely an achievement for an action film, but the surround elements were a disappointment.
The 1080p video presentation ups the ante, although even there I noticed an occasional saturation issue in some of the film’s darker scenes. During the daylight sequences, of which there are many, the video and colors look marvelous. One scene that stands out in particular is the attack on Iron Man headquarters. But the climactic final battle takes place at night, and although there’s no shortage of bright explosions and lights, the differentiation between shadows at time seemed less than stellar.
As for the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray bonus features, there’s a lot to like here. On the surface it seems like there aren’t many of them, as the menu seems “flat.” But dig around that menu a bit more, and you’ll find a lot to like. Perhaps the most intriguing bonus feature, Restore the Database: Second-Screen Experience isn’t even a video per se but more of a companion-device scavenger hunt. Additional features include a Behind the Scenes Look at Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, a virtual promo piece for the new ABC Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show called Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter, a piece called Marvel’s Iron Man 3 Unmasked and a Deconstructing the Scene: Attack on Air Force One featurette. The traditional gag reel, deleted scenes and audio commentary track are also included, but they’re not as notable as the others highlighted above. Fans of writers Shane Black and Drew Pearce may balk at that statement, but a commentary track is a commentary track, even if you do get insight into possible plot alternatives at several points.
Frankly, though, if you haven’t seen Iron Man 3 yet, the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray disc is a must-buy. You can find it for 28% off at Amazon, and the mix of great acting and plot twists is enough to keep even non-Marvel fans entertained. Often you encounter a drop off by the time a film hits its third entry, but Iron Man 3 feels like the franchise is just hitting its stride. Its release on Blu-ray will be a worthy entry in your movie library.