Marvel Anime: Iron Man was based on Marvel Comics Characters and definitely took more inspiration from the highly popular live-action movies starring Robert Downey Jr. The series wasn’t terrific, but it was watchable. It had that anime flavor that I appreciated, that despite the fact that some areas in its narrative did not fit, at least it had a consistency around it. Well, I was hesitant when I heard that Madhouse studios have opted to make an “Iron Man” film titled “Iron Man: Rise of Technovore”, but hey, I gave it a shot. Despite the fact that I knew the chances that it would be inferior to the Anime series was high, I kept my hopes up. Man, I hate it when my gut instinct is right.
I have decided to watch this anime film in the English Language since it gave the bad dialogue some much needed personality in the dubbing. The Japanese language with the subtitles aren’t as ‘talkie’, as I noticed that several pieces of dialogue in the first act did not synch with the mouth movements. I assumed that the English language track was intended to give much more detail while the original language left a lot of ‘reading between the lines’.
Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Matthew Mercer) had created H.O.W.A.R.D., a super-satellite meant to analyze and scan every part of the world for potential threats. Stark in his Iron Man suit and his best friend, James Rhodes, in the War Machine armor (James Mathis III) are flying around to promote the launch when a group of terrorists called the “raiders” mount an attack. The two engage the enemy and on the verge of success, Stark finds himself face to face with a young man with a highly advanced armor that surpasses his own. The two mix it up with Stark sent reeling as Rhodes ends up being badly hurt. Angered, Stark discovers that the young man is Ezekiel Stane, the son of Obadiah and he is out for revenge. SHIELD tries to keep Stark in line, but the armored avenger is determined to follow through, even if it means aligning himself with the Punisher (Norman Recdus) and the Black Widow and Hawkeye (Clare Grant and Troy Baker) are sent to bring him in by Nick Fury (John Bentley). Ezekiel Stane is someone very much obsessed in reshaping the world, even if it means destroying it.
Ok, this anime film has a lot of nods to previous other anime films but the way they were put together lacked creativity and inspiration. The themes are there: society’s over-reliance to technology, how nature is more powerful than technology, and how science can either be used to heal or destroy. There is something smart that the screenplay by Kengo Kaji wants to pitch in, but the story by Brandon Auman was a little too lazy to serve them up. I know, I get it, the plot holes weren’t really plot holes if you knew how to read between the lines, but the screenplay was just one messy affair. Devices are introduced, and these devices were only there to open up an opportunity for fan service and showmanship. The film barely made any sense; SHIELD wants to hold Stark back and they engage him in combat, I mean they seem to be trying to kill the guy they want to protect. Then some other twist shows up and then ta-dah! Things are honky-dory between them. I could figure it out, but the flow of the screenplay was very badly put together.
Oh yeah, then there is Ezekiel Stane who seems to be adamant in teaching people something about biological weaponry and technology. For some reason, he knew things that even Stark didn’t and Stark discovers things that he did not know. Sure, it is all about brainwork here, but the way it was executed was very faulty. Oh, the dialogue was also pretty cheesy and bad; even when I tried to use the subtitles it was much more incoherent. I could not believe that such a thing would be allowed by director Hiroshi Hamasaki. It was almost as if they wanted to write a script to build around the popular characters and then have the script revolve around the action sequences. Devices were just dry and the plot was overcooked. It was almost as if Uwe Boll or Michael Bay had a hand in writing this film.
Alright, so the screenplay was messy and the execution was lazy. But thankfully “Rise of Technovore” did have some decent action sequences, and the visuals was kind of cool. The mecha-type battles was well staged, and the action was fast, intense and was a little violent. Set pieces were done well and it also has a decent body count. Yeah, it wasn’t able to keep up its quality up to the final act, but the explosions, hits and repulsor blasts were fun. There was also a chase sequence with the Black Widow, Hawkeye, The Punisher and Shellhead that was kind of cool. Despite the fact that the emotional impact in them was lost, that they did not excel, visually speaking, the action was the only (light) positive note in this film.
The film sure took a lot of detours getting to where it wanted to be. The detours and development were just so unimaginative that it made the film a little hard to follow. It was like a wreck that it was hard to put the pieces together since none of them fit. Yes, some of the designs and action was good, but not good enough to cover up its over-reaching yet lazy screenplay. The climax made me roll my eyes, it was like one of those Gamera meets Karas plus Akira plus God knows what else. It passes on characterization and plot development in the hopes of distracting with some cool visuals. Unfortunately, the adrenaline it drives just could not be maintained. I am a Marvel fan boy and an anime fan, but this dreck should’ve never seen production. I am stunned that I was able to sit through this one. Rental for Shellhead fans and a SKIPPER for everybody else. [1 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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