This summer's biggest... no scratch that. This year's biggest box office success has now arrived on home video. That's right Marvel fans your favourite billionaire Armoured Avenger is back for more of your hard earned cash and I am here to tell you if its worth your while to pick up Iron Man 3 for your personal movie library.
If you are a sucker like me and you want to grab the most loaded (aka most expensive) version of the film there is thats just one of the many options. There are multiple versions of Iron man 3 to pick up on home video ranging from a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack to the fully loaded version I'll be reviewing here. This version is the special edition of Iron Man 3 that comes complete with 3D Blu-Ray, reg Blu-Ray, DVD, digital copy of the film & soundtrack, and additional bonus deal for a poster + digital comic.
I made me opinion on this third installment of the Iron Man franchise pretty clear in my film review earlier this summer and the time past hasn't helped change my mind. Director and co-write of Iron Man 3, Shane Black, is since then credited with one of the most profitable films in movie history but that still doesn't mean its any good. You don't have to have read a single issue of the Iron Man comics to shoot holes upon holes into the script. Sure cinematically an audience member can get swept up by the wonder and the spectacle of all the amazing visual effects the film has to offer, but that just masks the filmmaker's many mistakes in piecing an embarrassingly poor story together. I could go into an endless rant on from a comic book reader's perspective but I'll wait until I get to the special features. Black is a great story teller when he is using characters he created (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) here it all seems like a combination of guess work and letting Robert Downy Jr. do whatever he wants. Luckily what RDJ wants works most of the time, but even he can't be in every scene. If you don't care about their being continuity from the previous Marvel films or a thought through story and you just want to see some suits of armour flying around blowing up stuff then go nuts and pick this sucker up. But you've been warned.
I'll start with the fantastic Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter; because its all down hill from there. To those unfamiliar with what a Marvel One-Shot they are essentially short films that either tell a story leading up to the next Marvel film or in the case of Agent Carter fill in some of the blanks in between films that have already happened. In this One-Shot the short deals with Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell reprising the role) working for a post-WWII C.I.A. just months after where Captain America ended off. Without giving too much away Atwell's Carter kicks ass in a man's world (again) with a mission of her own. Add in some familiar faces and this 15 min short made the Iron Man 3 purchase worth it for me. Probably won`t for the rest of you.
Then there were 2 featurettes that take a look at behind the scenes for parts of the film. The first one being "The Unmasked Iron Man" and it's a wasted opportunity for a behind the scenes feature. This feature, though enjoyable to watch, is a rushed 11 minutes of footage from pre-production to premiere night. Two years of footage condensed down to the length of a bathroom break is just embarrassing. The other featurette is called "Attack on Air Force One" and it actually takes to time to break down that very cool scene and show off the stunts and visual effects that went into that moment in the film. Both featurettes combine for a total of only 20 minutes of specials relating solely to Iron Man 3.
Next and finally is the audio commentary track for the film done by writer/director Shane Black and his co-writer Drew Pearce. Pearce mostly points out funny parts of the film and some of the film's many goofs no one seemed to notice until it was already finalized. Then there was Shane Black.
Deep breath Andrew, deep breath.
After discussing shooting days and previous takes the script had taken, Black's commentary explains and validates all the issues I have with Iron Man 3. Only judging by his commentary he doesn't see the issues as negatives. I won't go to in depth on this commentary track but some of the parts that bothered me were when Black explains he picked random names from the comics for the names of some of the smaller characters in the film merely to "keep things interesting". What does that even mean? Hearing that means Black made a conscious choice to give a nod to the readers of the source material while slapping them in the face at the same time. By the time Black and Pearce get to the Mandarin character and explains the reasons why liberties were taken with him it becomes clear neither of them should have been hired for this picture. With phrases like "see he has the dragon tattoos, that makes him the mandarin, it feels like it belongs" (referring to Guy Pearce's character) or "I only pay attention when I have" when talking about Tony Stark's history. In short, fanboys stay away from the audio commentary.
Iron Man 3 is poor film made worse with it now being on Blu-Ray for home video. The gag reel and delete scenes (which are pretty much jokes anyways) will be something you can find on YouTube in a day or two. And the only other addition is a supposed exclusive sneak peak at Thor: The Dark World that is only a re-cut trailer from 2 months ago. Apart from the 'free' poster and digital comic consumers get if they purchase the limited edition of this Blu-Ray nothing but the Marvel One-Shot makes Iron Man 3 worth even thinking about purchasing.
Any film that clears the billion dollar mark deserves to reward its paying fans with a home video experience worth their money. Iron Man 3 doesn't even come close. In an age where the amount of people pirating films online is almost more than people actually going to the theater consumers can just as easily find films like this for free in the not-so dark corners of the web. It might be just me but having additional bonus material to go along with my physical or digital copy of a film is what keeps me a paying customer. Jon Favreau`s first two Iron Man films on Blu-Rays at the very least had 3 hours of bonus material each. The only thing that would save this Blu-Ray would have been a Favreau Directors-Cut as a hidden easter egg. On the bright side I've got some fancy looking coasters now.
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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.