Marvel’s initial line of animated movies, at least for me, was somewhat of a letdown. Even though I own Ultimate Avengers (2006), Hulk Vs (2009), and Planet Hulk (2010), those are the only three I own. I have seen the rest, but felt underwhelmed by the animation styles and the storylines.
It wasn’t until Marvel started to look to anime that I began to take notice again. Partnering with Japan’s Madhouse studio, Marvel released the limited 12-part series’ of Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men, and Blade in 2011 and 2012. Now, they have partnered with Madhouse again, this time cranking out an anime movie revolving around more of Iron Man’s exploits titled Iron Man: Rise of Technovore.
Tony Stark and his best bud Rhodey are in Utah attending the launch of Stark’s new satellite, the “Howard” (named after his father), when a bunch of mercs called The Raiders attack in their mecha. This is all a diversion to keep Iron Man and War Machine busy while their “boss” infiltrates the launch site and kills everyone present.
During Stark’s confrontation with the “boss,” Rhodey is seemingly killed, and the launch site obliterated, but not before the satellite manages to take off and make it into orbit. Thank God for small favors.
S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up and wants to detain Stark, but Stark can’t sit on his hands while some nut case in fancy body armor gets away with fucking up his day and killing his best friend. Stark escapes the Hellicarrier, but Nick Fury ain’t getting bested by some ego driven rich guy with a vendetta, so he sends Black Widow and Hawkeye after him.
Stark one-ups Fury by temporarily aligning himself with none other than Frank fuckin’ Castle (aka The Punisher), whom he meets in Pakistan while Castle’s in the process of making a bloody mess out of a deal that’s going down between an A.I.M. agent and some locals. For a PG-13 movie, we get to see Mr. Castle put a piece of lead right between some poor man’s eyes and then terminally introduce his buddies to a shitload of friends that piece of lethal lead came with. Only the A.I.M. agent is left feeling as light as he was when he came in, but does manage to suffer a broken wrist when Iron Man forces his phone out of his hand.
The main villain is Ezekiel Stane, the son of Obadiah Stane, who was played by Jeff Bridges in the first live action film adaptation, Iron Man (2008). Ezekiel is just a kid, but a psychopathic one who, with the help of A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), has created a new kind of body armor. The techno-organic armor Stane wears reminded me of how Venom interacts with his hosts. It can create the armor, or whatever desired clothing, and is actually part of Stane’s body. To say this is more advanced that anything Stark has created might be understating the matter, a lot. Yeah, probably a lot.
By the time we get to the end, Stane’s armor rebels and goes all Akira on his ass, turning him into a monstrous creation that still remains intent on taking over Stark’s satellite and ending all life on the planet.
This 1080p anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer looks gorgeous, and I have to say the anime is even better than what they created for the Iron Man series. They also seemed to have covered all their bases when it comes to audio—Japanese (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1) and Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1)—and their subtitles—English, English (SDH), French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, Chinese (Mandarin Simplified) and Chinese (Mandarin Traditional).
As for extras features, there’s a Conceptual Art Gallery, and two featurettes: ‘Tale Of Technovore’ (8:26), a basic making-of, and ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.: Protecting The Marvel Universe’ (8:19), which is a nice educational short about what S.H.I.E.L.D. is and how it came about. (Note, the Conceptual Art Gallery is not included on the standard DVD release).
Rounding out the disc are the requisite trailers I had to chapter skip through to get the main menu: The Amazing Spider-Man, Resident Evil: Damnation, Men In Black 3, Legend Of The Millennium Dragon and Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance.
I thought that Iron Man: Rise of Technovore was a solid tale with great animation and hope Marvel stays in bed with Madhouse. Also got a kick out of finally seeing The Punisher (voiced by Norman Reedus) portrayed more accurately in animation form even though he’s only in the movie for about ten minutes.