This week we have a review of a recent US-Japan co-production with an Iron Man story in a variant of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Cast and Crew

Matthew Mercer as Tony Stark/Iron Man
James Mathis III as Col. James Rhodes/War Machine
John Bently as Nick Fury
Kari Wahlgren as Maria Hill
Claire Grant as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Troy Baker as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, J.A.R.V.I.S
Kate Higgins as Pepper Potts
Norman Reddus as Frank Castle/The Punisher
Eric Bauza as Ezekiel Stane
Tara Platt as Sasha Hammer

Written by Brandon Auman and Kengo Kaji
Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki
Music by Tetsuya Takahashi
Animated by Madhouse

Available from Amazon.com (DVD, Blu-Ray) and RightStuf (DVD, Blu-Ray)

The Premise

After a super-powered terrorist attacks the launch of Tony Stark’s new satellite, mortally wounding Rhodey, Tony defies SHIELD to hunt down the attacker, and the source of his nanotech weapons – the Technovores.

High Points

The dogfights with Iron Man are gorgeously animated, and the character designs do a great job of evoking the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Low Points

This film would be about 45 minutes shorter if Tony Stark and Nick Fury had communicated better at the start of the film. Further, the film’s conclusion is kind of anticlimactic. It’s not clear how Tony’s plan is supposed to work, it just does.

Similarly, we don’t see how Ezekiel Stane’s bat-guano crazy personal philosophy came about. It’s presumably fully formed by the start of the story, but we don’t get any explanations of it save for brief glimpses when Ezekiel monologues to Tony or Sasha Hammer. I realize that the director and writer have a limited amount of time to work with compared to a TV show. Still, with the cut we get, Stane’s personal philosophy comes across as the kind of insane pseudo-intellectual nonsense people attribute to anime when they’re mocking and dismissing it.

Additionally, I didn’t know that the woman in Stane’s hideout was Sasha Hammer, daughter of Justin Hammer, until I went to Anime News Network to put the cast list together. Further, nothing was done with the character – she just sits and reads aloud from, presumably, Nietzsche.

Scores

Originality: This story certainly has the most original use of the Technovores that I’m aware of (the original appearance looks like it would have been closer to a horror story). The story wants the audience to think it’s borrowing from Five Nightmares, but only slightly. 5/6.

Animation: The animation here is very good. The action is brilliant and the character interactions are great. 4/6

Story: See the low points. 3/6

Emotional Response: The action is certainly exciting, but there’s no tension. By putting this film in the Cinematic Universe, even if it currently isn’t and likely will never be canon, this means that any character who has appeared in the films is safe. 4/6

Production: The sound design is great, but the music is really hit or miss. 4/6

Acting: The English dub is far superior to the Japanese one. Still, John Bently’s drawl as Nick Fury is dramatically more pronounced than Samuel L. Jackson’s. 4/6

Overall: This is certainly an entertaining film, but it isn’t without its noticeable problems. 4/6

In total, Iron Man: rise of the Technovore gets 28/42.