Iron Man: Rise of Technovore
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 16th, 2013
Run Time: 88 minutes
Director: Hiroshi Hamasaki
Screenplay: Kengo Kaji
Writer: Brandon Auman
Animation by: Madhouse Inc.

Voice Cast:
Iron Man - Matthew Mercer
Black Widow - Clare Grant
Punisher - Norman Reedus
War Machine - James Mathis III
Technovore - Eric Bauza
Maria Hill - Kari Wahlgren
Hawkeye - Troy Baker
Sasha Hammer - Tara PLatt
Nick Fury - John Bentley

Synopsis: When a young terrorist named Ezekiel Stane attacks Starks Industries with a lethal biotechnology that threatens to destroy the world, it is up to IRON MAN to hunt down Stane and his bio-enhanced monsters known as Technovores. This new chapter in the Iron Man franchise also brings together favorite characters WAR MACHINE, Colonel NICK FURY, BLACK WIDOW, HAWKEYE, and THE PUNISHER. Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is an exciting, action-packed adventure that takes the story of Tony Starks to new heights never seen before.

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Iron Man: Rise of Technovore Feature Review
by James Harvey

Right out of the gate, let it be known that Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is ... different. Not in a bad way, but in a totally good way. While the film does pay heavy dues to its anime roots, the creative team behind the feature also try to balance it with the type of Marvel adventures weíve come to expect in our animated features. Thankfully, the film succeeds. But, like I said, itís...a bit different.

Now, this could discredit my review, but Iím not really a big follower of anime. My experience with anime is basically watching a few of the essentials Ė like Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll - along with the 2012 Marvel Anime efforts. Oh, and Batman: Gotham Knight. As you can see...not much. Big-time anime fans will likely look at this project differently than I but, personally, I enjoyed it. Iím not sure if this movie follows the usual anime tropes or is a toned-down version of some popular works, but to a relative novice like myself, I found this pretty interesting stuff. Nothing that really breaks the mold, to be truth, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Keep in mind that Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is very much its own thing. While it is influenced from the comics and movies, as well as the 12-episode Marvel Anime: Iron Man series, itís very much set in its own world. All of these different influences are mixed together to create its own very accessible version of Tony Stark. Stark here is played similar to live-action feature film version, for example, while Technovore itself is very much steeped in the standard anime trappings. Ezekiel Stane is a young boy, and the suit he creates is different than any version of the character before. Nick Fury is, naturally, based off the Ultimate Universe version of the character, while Black Widow is in her traditional comic book garb, same with The Punisher, while Hawkeye wears a costume similar to the Ultimate Universe rendition. James Rhodes, War Machine, and Petter Potts seem to be an amalgam of their comic book and big-screen personas. But it all mashes together into its own unique blend that, thankfully, works quite well. Thereís no real stand out character or such, but each character performs their role well, doing no more than what the script demands. The script does require that the viewer be already familiar with these characters, so that could lose any potential new-to-the-franchise viewers.

The first thing many viewers of the movie will notice is how absolutely gorgeous this movie looks. And Ė boy Ė does it look absolutely stunning. The animation is just fantastic, flat-out jaw-dropping at times. The film brings a mix of traditional 2D and 3D animation and, save for a couple little blips here and there, the integration is absolutely seamless. The intentional washed-out colors work fine for the movie, though at times they do go a bit overboard with it. The Iron Man armor, whether animated in 2D or with the odd 3D shot, looks absolutely amazing. It really, really does. The design is flat-out perfect for the movie and, how itís animated, is pretty incredible. Ditto goes for War Machine (who is just unleashed here in this movie) and for the Technovore armor (which gets some really fluidly-animated moments). Outside of maybe one or two weak moments of CG animation toward the end of the moments, the animation here is spectacular from start to finish. I donít think Iron Man has ever been animated this well before. The character designs are top-notch, too. Everyone looks as they should, though maybe a couple years younger than weíre used to (unless the designs just make them look kinda young-ish). Again, the live-action Marvel movies play a heavy influence in most of the final character designs, but by no means is it distracting or a deterrent. It all looks fairly excellent.

In terms of voice-acting, I thought the cast did a solid job all the way around. I found most of the performances were usually a bit low-key, and not over-the-top, which seemed to fit the tone and pace of the movie. Again, this could be my severe lack of anime kicking in, but I found that some of the quieter moments didnít exactly work as it sounded like the voice actors were speeding through their lines to make sure the end of the sentence synced up with the last animated mouth flaps. Overall, the entire cast worked well for me. Norman Reedus deserves a bit of nod for bringing a different approach to the Punisher that surprisingly works really well. Matthew Mercer is well-cast as a more light-hearted but still serious Stark. The actors didnít really bring any extra gravitas to the roles, as there were times I thought when the low-key performances were a bit too lifeless at times and therefore didnít really sell the moment, but I found the cast still did a respectable job overall.

My only real gripe with the film is how there seems to be a disconnect between the script and anime itself. I thought Brandon Auman wrote a great story for the movie but it seems like there may have been a little bit lost in translation, like some important facts were skipped over or didnít translate right. Perhaps Iím wrong, and the gist of the story is easy to follow and understand, but there just seems to be something small missing ... like thereís some type of disconnect. I thought Auman came up with a great take on Technovore, possibly the creepiest version of the character yet. And, given his history with Iron Man: Armored Adventures and The Avengers: Earthís Mightiest Heroes, it should come as no surprise how perfectly he nails Tony Stark.

Personally, I found that Iron Man: Rise of Technovore was a nice blend of all of Iron Manís many media interpretations, be it comics or movies, but it also managed to bring something new to the table, as well. And, again, I canít stress enough how great I found the animation to be. It just really shines. Itís a solid, mature take on the character, no doubt, but I can see why some would find it disappointing. The pace is a bit of an adjustment and the slower nature of the film will likely bore some viewers, but if youíre able to understand that this isnít your standard take on the Iron Man mythos, I think youíll enjoy it. Just remember going it into: Itís different, itís not what youíre expecting, but thatís a good thing.

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