Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, 2013.
Directed by Hiroshi Hamazaki.
Featuring the voice talents of Matthew Mercer, Norman Reedus, Eric Bauza, Kate Higgins, James Mathis III, Clare Grant, Kari Wahlgren, JB Blanc, Troy Baker, John Eric Bentley and Tara Platt.
Iron Man is framed by a technological terrorist, and sets out to stop him and clear his name.
As Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark prepares to launch Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the theatrical release of Iron Man 3, Marvel is looking to capitalise on the heightened awareness of the Armored Avenger with the straight-to-video anime tie-in Iron Man: Rise of Technovore. Unfortunately they won’t be selling any more cinema tickets off the back of this, being that it’s one of the weakest animated features to come out of Marvel since, well… ever.
Co-produced by Madhouse, the Japanese animation studio behind the likes of Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D – along with the Marvel anime series Iron Man, X-Men, Wolverine and Blade – Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is an anime in the truest sense of the word, and as such, it comes with many of the typical anime traits – slow-pacing, limited animation, sloppy CGI, and enormous racks that defy the laws of physics (see Black Widow). As such, it’s really one for fans of the art form only, and if you’re buying this hoping you can plunk the kids in front of the TV for an hour and a half’s break, both you and your offspring are going to be disappointed (although they might enjoy the swearing and violence, which is pretty strong for a PG, it has to be said). However, whether you’re a fan of anime or not, there is a bigger issue with Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, and that’s the fact it’s simply not very good.
The plot itself is standard Iron Man stuff: the launch of a Stark Enterprises satellite is hijacked by a new villain calling himself Technovore, who uses his advanced biotechnology to defeat Iron Man and War Machine in a battle that results in the deaths of over 300 people, including poor Rhodey. As the only witness, Tony is brought in by Nick Fury but escapes S.H.I.E.L.D. custody in order to track down Technovore and avenge his best buddy. Rather than assisting Iron Man against this dangerous new threat, Fury opts to dispatch Black Widow and Hawkeye to take him down, but fortunately for Tony, The Punisher is on hand to offer a little assistance. And while this is all going on, Technovore – who is revealed to be Ezekiel Stane, the son of Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges’ bad guy in Iron Man) – sits around in a bright white room, talking gibberish for extended sequences in such a calm and relaxing manner that I was close to nodding off every time he appeared on screen.
While the majority of the film is dull and stretched out, things do pick up a little when The Punisher makes his entrance, voiced by Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame. Sadly, The Punisher only sticks around for ten minutes or so, and then it’s back to Iron Man flying over mid-90s CG landscapes and Technobore sitting in his bright white room doing nothing except moving his lips as he drones on and on about how he’s something special. Or at least that’s what it feels like, and even the most hardened of Iron Man fans will be struggling to care by the hour mark. In fact, the only thing that kept me interested was trying to spot nods to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which there are quite a few. Still, that’s not enough of a reason to part with your hard-earned cash, and in all honesty there’s very little to recommend here.
I’d been looking forward to this new wave of animated films from Marvel Animation; the Lionsgate movies weren’t perfect (and a distant second to Warner’s DC animated output), but they were better than nothing. I’d rather have nothing than Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, and the fact that Marvel has pushed back the release of Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United from May to December doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence for its next animated offering either. If this is going to be the standard of Marvel’s animated movies going forward, then perhaps its time to hand animated duties over to Disney and stick to the Cinematic Universe.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Gary Collinson is a writer and lecturer from the North East of England. He is the editor-in-chief of FlickeringMyth.com and the author of Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen.