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It just keeps on getting better and better for Iron Man

Arthur J Pais | October 15, 2008 14:32 IST

An Iron Man DVD.
Paramount Pictures which had a strong summer season -- with Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Kung Fu Panda -- is enjoying an extraordinary success with the multiple versions DVD sale of Iron Man.
According to the box-office tracking, the DVD sets grossed $93 million in North America in the first week. If the demand for Iron Man DVD sets remains steady for couple of weeks [and that is despite the latest in the Indiana Jones saga hitting the DVD stores this week], the DVD sale and rentals of the film will be far more than it's $318 million box-office gross in North America. Kung Fu Panda DVD sets will be arriving in November, creating another stir. 
A single disc DVD, two-disc collector's edition DVD and an Ultimate Edition 2-disc Blu-ray version of Iron Man came out in North America amidst great excitement.The DVD had the strongest first-week sales of any new release this year, with distributor Paramount Home Entertainment reportedly selling over 6 million DVDs and 500,000 Blu-ray discs.

The adrenaline-pumping action drama, which questions war mongering, was also a hit with the critics. And there is incessant Oscar buzz for the film; apart from many technical nominations, it could also get a nomination for Robert Downey Jr, who gives one of the most remarkable and insightful performances seen in recent years in a movie spectacle.
The film centers on Tony Stark [Robert Downey Jr] a playboy who also happens to be an engineering genius. While in Afghanistan demonstrating a new missile he's captured by the insurgents and wounded. His captors demand he assembles a missile for them but he creates an armored suit that helps him escape. Back in the America, he is a transformed man and he announces his company will not make weapons. But when he finds out that his second in command at Stark industries has been selling Stark weapons to the insurgents, Stark has to be proactive.

'Anyone anxious to geek out on every minute detail in hero Tony Stark's universe should snag one of those latter options, which tell the story behind Iron Man in exceedingly specific detail, wrote The Washington Post. 'How specific? Honestly, after watching the nearly two-hour I Am Iron Man documentary -- which takes a you-are-there approach to almost every aspect of the production, from casting to post-production editing -- I am almost convinced that I worked, in some capacity, as director Jon Favreau's assistant.'
The extras in the latter options include The Invincible Iron Man, a history of the comic's evolution as told by numerous authors, from creator Stan Lee to Warren Ellis and a 27 minute-long Wired: The Visual Effects of 'Iron Man.
Extra features also include photo galleries and Blu-ray extras like Iron Man IQ, a Web-based application that allows viewers to answer and share trivia questions about the film.
'The casual movie fan will undoubtedly consider this overkill of the highest order.' mused the Post .'But DVD-philes -- the sort of people who imagine a heaven filled with angels, unconditional forgiveness and unlimited commentary tracks -- will be thrilled.'
The film was also a big favourite with the critics and it made Robert Downey Jr, nominated for an Oscar in the little seen Chaplin, a star for the first time in his two decades in Hollywood. Putting behind his legacy of a long fight with the drugs, Downey, who also gave a brilliant performance in the recent hit, Tropic Thunder, delivered a memorable account of the enigmatic superman in Iron Man
Critics and fans will be disappointed if Downey is not nominated for an Oscar this year..
Some critics have suggested that the DVD would be worth watching again and again for Downey's performance, even if there were no other frills.
Even though Downey is riveting, the film also has several other good  performances.
'With many superhero movies, all you get is the surface of the illusion,' wrote Roger Ebert in Chicago Sun-Times. 'With Iron Man you get a glimpse into the depths. You get the feeling, for example, of a functioning corporation. Consider the characters of Pepper Potts [Gwyneth Paltrow [Images]] Stark's loyal aide, and Obadiah Stane [Jeff Bridges], Stark's business partner. They don't feel drummed up for the occasion. They seem to have worked together for awhile.'   
Despite the possibility of Indiana Jones knocking the Iron Man from the top position, the DVD sets will continue to perform well for many weeks, industry insiders say. And that means it will be a great quarter for Paramount Home Entertainment
Not every one was happy with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the fourth film in the Indiana Jones series produced by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg [Images].
The disappointed critics and admirers of the franchise thought the film was not as thrilling as the previous three movies that also starred Harrison Ford as the intrepid archaeologist. The new film, which also features Cate Blanchett [Images] and veterans Ray Winston and John Hurt as well as the comparatively new Shia LaBeouf [Images] had no trouble connecting with the audiences worldwide.
Its worldwide gross is close to $780 million; only one film The Dark Knight [Images], which is approaching $1 billion benchmark, made more money than the latest Indiana Jones.
This was a film that many people in Hollywood assumed would never be made considering the difficulty in finding the right time and the right script to reunite Ford, Lucas and franchise director Spielberg after the 1989 hit Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, according to Variety. 
Then there were doubts if Ford, who is in his mid 60s, can ignite the box-office. Just now, Hollywood is abuzz that there could be a fifth film in the franchise that could open early 2010.
Set in the Cold War era, Indiana [Indy] has been kidnapped by a Soviet military regiment disguised as US soldiers, and is sent to a nuclear facility in the New Mexico. Among his urgent tasks is to deal with an alluring and mysterious agent, played superbly by Cate Blanchett. Teaming up with a rebellious young biker [Shia LaBeouf] and his origin love Marian [Karen Allen, fascinating as ever], Indy woos viewers with a load full of adventures and thrill-rides.
The 2-Disc special's highlights include The Return of a Legend, detailing the evolution of the new film and the role played by the creators of Indy in defining one of the best known superheroes of a generation. The pre-production segment highlights Spielberg's creative process in the animatic sequences; we also get to see LaBeouf as he learns to swordfight.
The admirers of the film will not want to miss Production Diary: Making Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a 12-part look at the creation of the film in which the film-makers, cast and crew discuss the conception of action scenes, the creation of jungle sets and various other aspects of the movie, which according to the critic Roger Ebert had 'sensational, awe-inspiring spectacles.'
While the DVD and Blu-ray discs of Iron Man and the latest Indiana Jones saga are expected to be huge hits, Paramount could see a decent sale for the restored version of The Godfather films under the supervision of its famed director Francis Ford Coppola.
Original negatives of the first two films, both of which won best-picture Oscars, had deteriorated so badly that they were nearly lost, Hollywood insiders say. In an effort to save the landmark films, Coppola and cinematographer Gordon Willis performed a frame-by-frame restoration that took more than six months of intense work.
Watching the three films anew in the new box set, one feels that great care has been taken to preserve the purity of the original version. Hence the name, The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration.
The films are 'miraculously rejuvenated by a team of digital restoration experts under the supervision of the film preservationist Robert A Harris,' wrote The New York Times. 'Mr Coppola's three films seem to have reclaimed the golden glow of their original theatrical screenings -- a glow that has been dimmed and all but extinguished over the years through a series of disappointing home video editions.'
If you still need any more persuasion to buy the DVD set, especially the Blu-ray set, listen to what the influential trade publication Variety has to say:
'In an offer that movie buffs can't refuse, the Godfather trilogy received a digital makeover and has been repackaged on Paramount DVD and Blu-Ray. Already released as a 5-disc set in 2001, the new format and crystal-clear new transfers justify the double dip.'
Some viewers may also change their mind about the third Godfather film which disappointed many. But see it again, and without the kind of expectations that greeted it when it was released over two decades ago, and you will admire many sequences in it and a few solid performances especially the one by Talia Shire, Coppola's sister. You will also notice an awkward performance by Coppola's daughter Sofia who abandoned her acting aspirations after being savaged by critics and turned profitably to direction, making such fine films as the Oscar nominated Lost in Translation
The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration includes Godfather trilogy and a fourth disc that features more than a dozen extras, including one on the restoration of the films that will please the serious movie fans. The set is also available in a standard DVD five-disc edition.

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