Do you have any external USB hdd attached?
I'm having the exact same symptoms you describe. If however, I turn off my usb drives Vista boots in no time.
I just upgraded to Visa from XP and have a serious startup problem. When I startup into normal mode it takes 15 minutes to load and run. I spent 3 hours with Microsoft and nothing was found wrong. No driver conflicts or hardware issues. Running in full Areo mode. I spoke with the Video Card company and they have heard of the issue but could not fix the problem. It's not a video card issue. My system works fine in Safe Mode and starts quickly. Any suggestions or known file conflicts?