The Invincible Iron Man
Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Marvel Animation
Release Date: January 23rd, 2007

Synopsis: Past and present collide in this epic adventure that reveals the origin of Iron Man. While raising the ruins of a long buried Chinese kingdom, billionaire inventor Tony Stark digs up far more than he bargained for. He unleashes an age-old prophecy that foretells the resurrection of the Mandarin, the emperor of China's darkest and most violent dynasty. In order to confront the destructive force, Tony creates an armored suit infused with high-tech weaponry. To stop the evil that he himself has raised from the earth, Tony must become his greatest invention ever -- Iron Man! The newly born champion must travel to the four corners of the earth to battle the Mandarin's henchmen, the Elementals -- four magical warriors who harness the power of the elements -- earth, water, wind, and fire -- with deadly chemistry. But is the Iron Knight, as he his known in the prophecy, strong enough to defy fate and turn back the malevolent forces hell-bent on earth's destruction?


Click here for more images.

The Invincible Iron Man Feature Review
By Jim Harvey

Breaking out on his own, the classic Marvel character Iron Man finally has an animated movie to call his own. It's funny, when watching this movie, I half expected the opening credits to play the theme song from the second season of the 1990's Iron Man animated series. It didn't happen, of course, but to expect that would be ludicrous. What follows, however, is the creation of one of Marvel's classic characters.

>As the official synopsis for the movie goes, in order to confront the destructive force, Tony creates an armored suit infused with high-tech weaponry. To stop the evil that he himself has raised from the earth, Tony must become his greatest invention ever - Iron Man! The newly born champion must travel to the four corners of the earth to battle the Mandarin's henchmen, the Elementals' four magical warriors who harness the power of the elements - earth, water, wind, and fire - with deadly chemistry. But is the Iron Knight, as he is known in the prophecy, strong enough to defy fate and turn back the malevolent forces hell-bent on earth's destruction?

Can I say I enjoyed the movie? Yes. I thought it was relatively well done, overall, with some great voice acting and some pretty superb action sequences. Was I blown away by it? No, not really. I was engaged in the film from the get-go, but found that some scenes dragged on a bit too long. The film goes back and forth between more 'adult' drama and action sequences without ever finding a good balance between them. I found they didn't achieve this until the big climactic fight at the end (which I'll get to in a little bit). It's a good character study on Tony Stark, providing us with a full character arc with an opening left for further adventures, which I would gladly welcome with open. In short, I do think Iron Man fans will be split down the middle, most enjoying the movie and others lets down at the liberties the movie takes.

This movie basically acts as Iron Man Begins, updating the classic origin for a whole new generation of viewers. We watch Tony Stark go from self-absorbed, skirt chasing inventor millionaire to selfless hero in the span of eighty minutes. He's given an updated origin as we see his humble beginnings in the Iron Man suit, both as a life-saving measure and as selfless superhero. With sidekick Rhodey by his side, he's able to help save the day from magical warriors unleashed after he tries to raise an ancient Chinese city.

And does the movie take a lot of liberties? Aside from revamping the classic arch-foe The Mandarin, not really. The movie stays relatively true to Stark's origins, updating it as need be. I just can't see his Vietnam-based origin staying relative to today's audience (I don't even think they use that origin in the comics anymore).They keep the “iron lung” aspect of his origin alive, though they change the accident that causes his unfortunate medical condition. He's now injured in a terrorist attack while visiting his work in China, and is promptly captured. Again, it works well for both the movie and the character.

From there, the rest is history. He creates his suit of armor, defeats the bad guys, and becomes an entirely new person. It's a simple origin, and it's handled well in the animated movie.

Personally, I wasn't too crazy about the Elementals being the first major battle for the hero, though the initial skepticism and then “I can't explain it” attitude from Tony does help the story. I would have preferred a more realistic and technology-based opponent, but pitting futuristic technology against ancient mysticism does provide a nice counter-balance for the movie. It throws Iron Man completely out of his element (pun intended), forcing him to think on his feet and go up against something that money can't fix.

Facing off against the four creatures does get a bit repetitive, with each fight scene feeling a bit reminiscent of the one before. It's not until the big showdown at the end that we really get something different. The movie does seem to struggle with trying to the balance the more down-to-earth business and terrorist subplots with the more mystical monster-fighting aspect the movie indulges in from time to time. I think a more grounded villain would have done wonders in providing an even tone for the movie. The more mindless action does provide a sense of relief from the movie heavy subplots, but it would have been great to have those action sequences boost the actual adult dilemmas in the feature.

As for the big climactic battle, it's handed pretty well. Not only does Tony Stark have to do battle with these mystical forces, but another character (who I won't mention to keep this review somewhat spoiler-free) also has to do battle to do what's right in the end. Many viewers will see the big twist at the end coming, but others should be pleasently surprised with how it works. However, I do have a problem or two with the final battle itself, namely how it's presented. Again, I'll try not to spoil it, but I thought it could have been handled a bit better, and possibly really push the PG-13 rating, if they opted to go all out with it, instead of playing it safe with shading certain body parts. I don't want to say any more, but viewers will know what I mean upon seeing it.

The character designs, for the most part, seem to play it safe. They're not edgy in any sense, nor bland. I will say that the design of Tony Stark himself isn't the best. I prefer the design used in the Ultimate Avengers movies, as I though that suited a modern take on the character better than the somewhat outdated pencil mustache and wavy hair. Still, the design, lifted straight from the comics, seems to give a classic touch to the character. The remaining supporting cast, such as Rhodey, Howard Stark, etc, seem to be direct translations of their comic book counterparts. The Mandarin, however, is given a great makeover, coming off as more creepy than he ever has before.

Overall, I'd say this was a good, not great, movie. While not as good as Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, I found it better than Ultimate Avengers 2. The animation was a bit uneven, being great in some parts and sloppy in others. The mesh of 2D and 3D isn't seamless, but there are some instances where it looks great, and others where it could have used some extra attention. I do want to note both the background paintings and the scores are remarkable for this feature, making the movie both look and sound gorgeous. It's a welcome addition to the growing animated Marvel library, and comes Recommended, but shows that there are still some chinks in the armor that need to be worked out.