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Iron Man: Rise of Technovore (2013)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/16/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/14/2013

There is definitely an art to writing a good sequel -- and it's an art that few have mastered. The really weird thing is that decent sequels can come out of nowhere. There was an episode of the animated show The Real Ghostbusters which took place following the conclusion of Ghostbusters. The episode, which had a doppelganger set of Ghostbusters, would have made a great Ghostbusters 2. Something similar occurs with Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, an animated film which plays as a very nice continuation of 2008's Iron Man.

(While the Blu-ray Disc does contain the original Japanese soundtrack, the voice actors for the dubbed English version will be listed.)

As Iron Man: Rise of Technovore opens, Tony Stark (voiced by Matthew Mercer) is very excited over his latest creation. The "Howard", named after his late father, is a satellite which will be able to maintain surveillance of the entire planet. Clad in his Iron Man armor, Tony has come to watch the launch of the satellite, and he's joined by War Machine AKA James "Rhodey" Rhodes (voiced by James Mathis III). However, the launch is interrupted by a group of marauders wearing battle armor. They are lead by someone calling themselves Ezekiel (voiced by Eric Bauza), who has a suit which appears to be alive. While Rhodey deals with the soldiers, Tony confronts Ezekiel, but has no match for the man's strange technology. The satellite launches, but Ezekiel destroys mission control and War Machine is lost in the rubble. Nick Fury (voiced by John Eric Bentley), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., arrives and wants to question Tony about the incident, but Tony only wants to go after Ezekiel, so he flees the scene. Fury sends Black Widow (voiced by Clare Grant) and Hawkeye (voiced by Troy Baker) after him. Eliciting help from The Punisher (voiced by Norman Reedus), Iron Man is able to get a lead on Ezekiel and suddenly comes face-to-face with his past.

Marvel and Japanese company Madhouse have worked together to create several anime series based on popular Marvel characters, such as Wolverine. Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is an off-shoot of the Iron Man anime series. I have not seen that series, but I would venture to guess that it has a Japanese focus. While Iron Man: Rise of Technovore was made by the Japanese team at Madhouse (under the watchful eye of Marvel), it plays like a fairly straight-forward story from the Marvel Universe. Given the way that Marvel is marketing the heck out of anything even remotely related to The Avengers, it's not surprising to see Nicky Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye here, and their inclusion in the story makes narrative sense. It is surprising to see The Punisher in the movie (is he well-known in Japan) and while the character is fairly true to his comic book roots, his appearance does feel a bit forced.

As noted above, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore shares a connection with Iron Man and is actually a good continuation of the story from that film. In the event that you don't know what that connection is (as I didn't), I won't give it away, but suffice it to say that it doesn't feel forced and would have most likely been better accepted than Iron Man 2. That's not to say that the story here is perfect. The explanation of Ezekiel's "Technovore" technology is a bit vague and while I understood who the character was, I was a bit lost on his motivations.

As this is a Madhouse production, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is done in a true anime style. This is where the movie may lose some viewers. While Iron Man and War Machine look good and only vary slightly from what we are accustomed, everything and everyone else looks like a traditional anime character, and based on your personal preference, they may turn you off. While Ezekiel is clearly destructive, his overall appearance is too delicate. While the story is pretty straight-forward for the most part, the finale gets too wild and starts to look like something from Akira.

Overall, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is an interesting project and assuming that they can handle the animation style, it should appeal to Marvel fans. The movie runs a bit long, and it drags some in the middle, but there is still a nice amount of Iron Man and War Machine blowing things up and isn't that what we came here to see?

Iron Man: Rise of Technovore finds a nice way to get Pepper Potts involved in the story on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. However, the HD transfer does reveal that some of the animation, especially people in the background, is not very detailed. Also, this movie has that hazy anime look which appears to have been shot through gauze and everything has a halo around it. I know that anime fans may be used to this, but I like my animation to be sharp. Also, as I've seen in other shows, the color palette is muted here. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects and the English subtitles are easy to read. The action scenes sound very good here, as the sounds of Iron Man flying by and the explosions fill the front and rear channels. These effects show good separation and detail, and the rear doesn't simply mimic the front. The subwoofer gets in on the action as well, but is never overpowering.

The Iron Man: Rise of Technovore Blu-ray Disc offers a few extras. The "Conceptual Art Gallery" is an interactive feature which allows the viewer to see a slideshow of many different designs from the film. "Tale of Technovore" (8 minutes) contains comments from the (American) Marvel animation team who discuss the anime style of the movie, how the characters were altered, and the way in which the story ties in with the Marvel Universe. "S.H.I.E.L.D. Protecting the Marvel Universe" (8 minutes) gives an overview and history of the covert organization which has been featured in many Marvel comics.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.