Invincible Iron Man, TheReviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 01/23/07 12:19:41
After two fumbled attempts to kick start their new direct-to-video animation line, Marvel Comics finally gets it right - sort of, barely, almost - with their third effort, “The Invincible Iron Man.” The film is a minor step up from last year’s two “Ultimate Avengers” movies, enough to earn it a recommendation but not still enough to get anybody truly excited about the future of Marvel Animated Features.For those not too familiar with the Marvel Universe, here’s the scoop on Iron Man: Tony Stark, a billionaire inventor/roguish playboy, lands in a Vietnamese prison after getting wounded in action. He then builds a suit of armor that not only contains the pacemaker needed to keep his now-damaged heart going, but also a few choice weapons that help him escape. Returning home, he reworks the suit and goes into the superhero business as Iron Man.
Iron Man was most likely chosen for the first solo adventure to get the buzz going early on next year’s live action potential blockbuster. As Marvel’s movie line already used Iron Man as a key player in the “Avengers” series, presenting him as an established, veteran character, the story here does a bit of backpedaling continuity-wise in order to deliver an updated origin story for the hero.
The Vietnam War now too dated for a modern tale, screenwriter Greg Johnson (a Marvel vet, having penned “Avengers” as well as several Marvel cartoon TV series, including the short-lived “Iron Man”) moves the adventure to China, where a group of radicals have stolen a supply of weapons from Stark Industries in hopes of preventing the company from raising an ancient sunken city. You see, prophecy says if the city were ever to rise again, the evil Mandarin will return from the grave and rule once more, and he’ll bring a team of superbaddies with him.
The fantasy elements are admittedly ridiculous, but at least they’re handled more effectively than in the “Avengers” line, which just sort of threw things at the script to see what stuck. In “Iron Man,” Johnson plays with the classic notion of technology-vs.-magic, with Stark’s supersuit going toe-to-toe against a set of mythological beasties. It’s interesting enough to keep the story going strong, even if the rest of the screenplay sticks to your standard “reluctant hero” arc (Stark begins the film as a shallow, disinterested fool and ends it as a man of honor and action, and you can predict each point along the path as the story unfolds) and refuses to try anything new or challenging. Even the epilogue comes lifted directly from a key scene in “Batman Begins,” a sign that the filmmakers are too concerned about playing it safe. (The musical score, from animation vet Guy Michelmore, also copies “Batman Begins” to a fault.)Still, it’s plenty fun to watch Iron Man fly around and blow stuff up, and with a script that tightens things up and animation that, while still not too impressive, improves on the iffy “Avengers” work, “The Invincible Iron Man” becomes the fun little adventure it sets out to be. It’s enough to tide fans over until the live action flick arrives, and enough to keep Marvel’s animation division afloat for at least one more release.
|© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.|