Iron Man 3 (4K UHD Review)
Release Date(s)2013 (August 13, 2019)
Studio(s)Marvel Studios/DMG Entertainment (Paramount Pictures/Walt Disney Studios)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B-
The alien attack on New York City (as seen in The Avengers, reviewed here in 4K) has left Tony Stark shaken. In spite of his public bravado and the support of the woman he loves (Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow), he’s suffering from anxiety attacks and has lost his confidence. Now more than ever, Tony realizes that his Iron Man identity is just a suit, just a gimmick of technology, and one that very nearly failed both himself and the rest of the world. But even as Tony is being forced to confront his latest demons, two from his past have returned to haunt him. A new threat has emerged too, specifically an army of “enhanced” ex-military soldiers whose powers appear to be explosively unstable. And they’re lead by an international terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) who intends to bring America to its knees. With the help of the “Iron Patriot” (his friend Rhodey, played by Don Cheadle), Tony steps up to confront this threat but quickly gets his ass kicked. Bereft his suit, Tony must rediscover his courage and ingenuity with the help of a 10-year-old Tennessee boy named Harley.
As a follow-up to The Avengers—not to mention the start of “Phase Two” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—Iron Man 3 is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Tony’s redemption story is compelling and serves as the beating heart of the film. But the villains here are disappointing, especially the Mandarin, who is a little bit too on-the-nose in the mold of Osama bin Laden. The twist involving this character is also sketchy, and surely worked better on the page than it does on screen. Still, the further character development of Rhodey and Pepper is welcome indeed, as is Tony’s relationship with Harley (played surprisingly well by young Ty Simpkins, who briefly reprised the character at the end of Avengers: Endgame). And the film finishes strong, with a great enhanced-solider/Iron Man suit melee. Paltrow even gets to thrown down a little too as Pepper, and she makes the most of it.
Iron Man 3 was shot fully digitally in the ARRIRAW codec (2.8K) using Arri Alexa and Phantom Flex cameras and Leica, Fujinon, and Angenieux lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, upsampled for its 4K release, and graded for high dynamic range (HDR10 is available on this UHD). The improvement in detail refinement and texturing over the previous Blu-ray release is notable, if modest, but the HDR and wider gamut make the image really pop, with truly deep blacks, eye-reactive highlights, and bold coloring. The variety of different metallic sheens in the various Iron Man suits is impressive here. This isn’t a reference image, but it’s among the better 4K presentations for these older MCU titles and it’s the best of the three Iron Man films on UHD for sure.
The English Dolby Atmos mix is terrific, somewhat short of the best such mixes but muscular enough to really give your sound system a workout. Clarity is excellent, with a rich full sound. Dialogue is clean, bass is firm and punchy (if not truly aggressive), and there’s surprising spaciousness in the soundstage. When Pepper drops her bags in the foyer of their cliff-top mansion, the sound lingers nicely in the air with just a bit of echo. There’s lots of surround activity and movement, all of it smooth, and the track really shines in action scenes. The helicopter attack (on Tony and Pepper’s home) and the shipyard battle in the film’s climax deliver plenty of sonic bluster. Additional tracks are available in English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Quebec French 5.1 Dolby Digital, and French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese in 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus. Optional subtitles are included in English for the Hearing Impaired, Quebec French, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, and Swedish.
As is typical for Disney, there are no extras on the UHD disc itself. But the package includes the previous Blu-ray edition which offers the following (video content in HD):
- Audio Commentary by Shane Black and Drew Pearce
- Restore the Database Second Screen Experience
- Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter (15:29)
- Iron Man 3 Unmasked (10:59)
- Deconstructing the Scene: Attack on Air Force One (8:43)
- Thor: The Dark World Sneak Peek (1:53)
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (10 scenes – 16:20 in all)
- Gag Reel (5:07)
It’s not a lot of content, but most of it is worth a look. Some of the deleted scenes are interesting. The commentary touches upon larger themes and character issues and is also pretty funny. There’s also an iOS “Second Screen” interactive viewing experience for Apple devices that requires you to download the Iron Man 3: Jarvis app. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray 3D version of the film is not included in this package, but you do get the usual Movies Anywhere Digital code on a paper insert.
Iron Man 3 represents a solid finish for the character’s trilogy, leaving Tony Stark reborn in a way and ready to raise his game to the next level in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s also the best looking of the three Iron Man films and is served well by its upgrade to Ultra HD. It’s recommended for fans of the MCU in 4K.
- Bill Hunt
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