'Iron Man' comes with lots of features

Posted: Thursday, October 02, 2008

'Iron Man'

The home video release of the summer blockbuster "Iron Man" comes packed with as many cool goodies as Tony Stark's armor. The movie, of course, is smashing entertainment, taking a not-so-popular comic-book and turning its characters into household names.

A huge part of "Iron Man's" success is due to the performance by Robert Downey Jr., who plays the billionaire-turned-crimefighter with an irresistible mix of irreverence and stoicism. It's a sign of how crucial Downey is to the movie that the DVD's producers have included the screen tests from his audition, as well as a snippet of rehearsal footage between him and Jeff Bridges. The material is fascinating, showing how Downey had a thorough grip on the character before he had even landed the part.

The DVD included a making-of documentary, 45-minutes featurette charting the character's origin on the printed page and artists who have drawn him over the years. It also includes 25 minutes' worth of deleted and extended scenes, a stand-alone look at the film's visual effects and a collection of the excellent theatrical trailers that managed to get audiences excited about a character who, until the movie, had never quite caught on the way "Spider-Man" or "Batman" did. Two-disc DVD, $40; Blu-ray $40 for the two-disc, $35 for the single-disc.

'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'

Like all the other movies Judd Apatow has had a hand in, a lot of the dialogue in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was improvised on the set. The constant ad-libbing results in a wealth of outtakes and alternate footage to include on the DVD, which is why every movie that Apatow either produces or directs ("The 40 Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up," "Superbad") arrives on home video in loaded special editions.

The story is about a composer (Jason Segel, who also wrote the script) who gets dumped by his famous TV-star girlfriend (Kristen Bell).

Bordering on overkill, both the Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray come loaded with extras, beginning with a jokey commentary track with Segel, director Nicholas Stoller and several cast members, nearly an hour of the aforementioned deleted and alternate footage, video diaries shot during the making of the film, and karaoke versions of the various songs in the film. DVD, $35; Blu-ray, $40.

'Taxi to the Dark Side'

The winner of this year's Oscar for Best Documentary, "Taxi to the Dark Side" didn't make it to theaters around most of the country, but it is well worth seeking out on DVD. Director Alex Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room") uses the 2002 death of an Afghani taxi driver at the hands of American soldiers as the foundation for a far-reaching exploration of the Bush administration's increasingly questionable tactics in the war against terrorism after Sept. 11.

Unlike, say, a Michael Moore picture, the movie takes an even-handed, journalistic approach to its subject, including voices and opinions from both sides of the political spectrum. The DVD includes an informative commentary track from Gibney, some 25 minutes' worth of deleted scenes and an interview with Gibney's late father, Frank, who formerly served as a Navy interrogator. DVD, $28.


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