Review: Iron Man – Rise of Technovore / Cert: PG / Director: Hiroshi Hamasaki / Screenplay: Kengo Kaji / Starring: Norman Reedus, Clare Grant. Matthew Mercer / Release Date: April 15th
Iron Man and anime would seem to be a perfect fit. After all, anime loves mecha and pilotable robots, and Iron Man is... well, just look at him. Then throw in Madhouse, after Studio Ghibli probably the most renowned of anime studios. You can hear the sound of everything clicking into place.
Unfortunately, there's something just a little bit wonky and creaky about Iron Man: Rise of Technovore. It kicks off with Stark Industries unveiling a controversial high-tech satellite that will be an almighty eye in the sky for the forces of good. However, launch day ends up as a flaming mess thanks to an unstoppable villain in a liquid metal jumpsuit that is the latest word in techno-organic body armour. As if that wasn't enough, S.H.I.E.L.D. treats Stark as a prime suspect for this debacle, for no particular reason other than that it pads out the plot and justifies a number of first and second act ruckuses.
Fugitive from the law though he might be, Iron Man isn't to be deterred and he pursues his mysterious nemesis. But is he really a match for that techno-organic stuff? See the way it infests his suit, seizing up his joints and making his paint job go blotchy? Looks like he could be heading for the scrapyard!
It's all reasonably enjoyable, but also somewhat nonsensical (S.H.I.E.L.D., in particular, is made to look like a complete waste of tax payers' dollars), not to mention tainted with pretension (the baddie is given to pronouncements such as, “Even with talent you need chaos to give birth to a falling star” – would've loved to get Sir Patrick Moore's thoughts on that one –) and generally heavy-handed. An attempt is made to follow the lead of the live action movies in characterising Tony Stark as a wisecracking charmer, but it's piled on too thick and he ends up coming across as a sneering fratboy. He's also quite grabby with Pepper Potts, who does a bit of fan service in a bikini.
The Black Widow, Hawkeye and War Machine make lively cameos, as does the Punisher, who practically steals the show with his deadpan humour and military issue coffee. Another positive is the animation, which is dynamic, with impressive photo-realistic environments, and makes great use of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and its associated weaponry. And last but not least there's a big, slashy, gooey Akira-style showdown as that techo-organic stuff grows to monster size and tries to swallow a whole city. So it has its moments – probably enough to keep Marvel fans happy. Anime aficionados, on the other hand, might not be quite so galvanized. The disc comes with two short, gushy but actually quite informative featurettes.
Extras: Tale of Technovore / S.H.I.E.L.D.: Protecting the Marvel universe