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The First Follow-On Film Featuring an Interesting 'Avengers' Character - Dark, but Entertaining and Very Good on Blu-ray
on 23 July 2017
Having marked the first cinematic venture into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the 'new character' film 'Iron Man' barely 2 years before, this 2nd foray into the world of the 'Avengers' most 'colourful' character is very much a sequel, since it continues to cover many of the storylines from the original.
However and crucially, it develops the themes quite significantly as it is also serves as a 'vehicle' to delve into the background of the superheroes organisation 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' and the related importance of Stark Industries; we are also introduced to a new 'Avengers' character...
I started to watch this film on satellite TV very soon after it was released for broadcast BUT it didn't really grab me so I didn't make it all the way; however, as the Blu-ray could eventually be got second-hand for a very affordable price I gave it another go.
I'm glad I did !
Watching it with a bit more dedication, I soon realised that what I perceived to be as an uninteresting, over-dominantly featured 'opponent' character was incorrect AND I had missed the presence of another equally important 'opponent' character. The film does obviously feature him and deal with his activities/significant relation to Tony Stark, BUT far more of the running-time is devoted to the more interesting Tony Stark/Iron Man persona than I had first appreciated and there are also those significant Stark Industries/'S.H.I.E.L.D. revelations as well....
In fact, it could be said that TOO much is covered in the middle section of the film, but since it is all necessary to learn in 'one chunk' - for anyone keen to immerse themselves in the 'Avengers' world, with hindsight it is done quite appropriately.
The clincher is that it features the same core ensemble as the original (albeit that it is the last time Jon Favreau directed 'Iron Man'), again has great special-effects, sharp action and snappy dialogue - plus it presents itself very well on Blu-ray.
I don't think any of the Amazon synopsis choices cover things properly, so here's a paste from a well-known info website which I think serves as a good starter :
"After Tony Stark reveals himself to be 'Iron Man', the U.S. government demands he hand over his technology. Meanwhile, a rival industrialist and a Russian scientist conspire to use his own technology against him."
It's also worth mentioning that events in this film occur in the same time period as the events of previously released and following 'Avengers' films respectively: 'The Incredible Hulk' and 'Thor' - also, Captain America's shield makes another appearance.....
So, we firstly see the main 'opponent' character, his significant actions and through visual 'hints' are able to learn more about his 'drive'. Then we see how Tony Stark 'meets' his main opponent before a sizeable chunk of long-tem plot/historical information revelation is made before a lengthy finale/confrontation.
The production-values of the film are equal, if not better than, the original since so much more 'equipment' is on show and the action is certainly more intense; the sets are more expansive and the special-effects convincing. Again, there are a number of notable acting performances but Downey Jr remains dominant and just as energetic as before.
There is more drama this time and it is more often than not of a darker nature, but humour is present, just not as much as previously....Since Stark is not just a talented businessman/engineer but also a very rich 'playboy' type of person, perhaps even more 'sexism' is on show this time - especially as women are used as promotional 'tools' in mass expo productions etc.
Finally, as before, Jon Favreau really deserves a lot of credit for being at the helm of this effective blockbuster which clearly had the remit of covering so much plot, associated/necessary explanatory dialogue, as well as depicting a lot of action.
As we should expect from a modern film, on Blu-ray things look and sound very good; everything is as sharp/detailed as you could hope for. Similarly, the soundtrack is clear and active, especially as this time we get DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.
Amazingly, on the 'Triple Play' edition I got, the copious disc extras are EVEN more extensive this time !
Again we get a 2nd disc with largely featurette-type extras, with again a total running time some 30mins longer than the film itself, BUT on the film disc we get several features which run in conjunction with the movie, as well as a director's commentary - which I have listened to. Jon Favreau does a sterling job of maintaining a presence on the audio track, only occasionally meandering around with light observations, the rest of the time he makes insightful observations which only he is able to contribute.
Plus we get the film on DVD !
I've attached a photo of the 'Triple Play' case back with all the disc info as Amazon omits it.
So, a worthy sequel to 'Iron Man' and one which I'm glad I re-visited, after an an initial viewing didn't grab me very much. I think it misses out on some of the excellent humour present in the original, but on the other hand it has more energetic action, some of which can stray into the crash-bang-wallop variety, but not excessively so. Nevertheless it still has many of the positive Tony Stark/'Iron Man' credentials and the screenplay has a tougher job, since it clearly had a remit to cover/reveal a LOT of 'Avengers' back-story. It also looks/sounds great on Blu-ray and the 'Triple Play' edition is loaded with extras.