Although featuring the golden Avenger, the latest effort — “Iron Man: Rise of Technovore” — doesn’t do much to polish the studio’s rusty reputation with a scattered, dull adventure that seems surprisingly dated for a character who’s always on the cutting edge of technology.
“Technovore” is the latest in Marvel Animation’s ill-advised attempt to marry Marvel Comics and anime made even more puzzling as the “Iron Man Anime,” didn’t exactly spark some major demand for more Marvel anime projects.
Kengo Kaji’s script has Tony Stark/Iron Man (Matthew Mercer, “Resident Evil: Damnation”) battling Technovore (Eric Bauza), a technological terrorist who wants to eliminate everything Stark Industries stands for and armed with a tech that even has Stark baffled, Iron Man may find himself obsolete.
Character designs are familiar to anyone who’s seen an anime in the last 20 years and seems like they were popped out of the Anime Character Generator factory. Stark’s girlfriend Pepper (Kate Higgins) and Black Widow (Clare Grant) only look like different characters thanks to their wardrobe.
The plot is frustrating as most of the conflict stems from S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Hawkeye (Troy Baker) and Black Widow trying to capture Iron Man to interrogate him about Technovore’s first attack instead of working together to stop the actual murderous villain threatening the world.
Kaji likely realized how weak a villain Technovore is — there’s a lot of talking in the underwhelming face off with Stark — and padded the movie with some more fights to create some excitement, even if it doesn’t make sense like the shoehorned cameo by The Punisher (Norman Reedus, “The Walking Dead”). Why exactly would a guy with limitless technology access need Punisher’s help?
Ever since Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Iron Man/ Stark in 2008’s “Iron Man,” he’s become the definitive spin on the character, but as other medium try to adopt his take to their format — be it cartoon shows, comics, etc. it reinforces how uniquely skilled Downey is in making Stark a likable egocentric. In other hands, Stark comes across as the kind of annoying “would-be-edgy” character you just wish would go away.
“Technovore’s” Stark is this weird hybrid that combines Downey’s take with the more traditional brooding anime hero. The screwy approach results in an inconsistently written Stark who is hardly a compelling hero.
The voice acting is the film’s highlight. While the character’s inclusion wasn’t necessary, Reedus has an intriguing take on The Punisher and makes him sound inherently tough without coming across forced and Kaji earns some points for writing a more comic-accurate, cocky Hawkeye.
Director Hiroshi Hamazaki would have been better served dialing down the wide shots and quick cuts as the action scenes are more disorienting and complicated to make out than a sped-up round of “Marvel vs. Capcom.”
If you’re an “Iron Man” fan looking to satisfy your animated appetite, stock up on “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” as that show’s take offered a far more entertaining portrayal of the character. This is only for the most hardcore of hardcore fan.
Rating: 2 of 10