Feature 78 – Outcast: “A Darkness Surrounds Him” (2016)

or “The Love Below”

Featuring: Patrick “Wristcutters: a Love Story” Fugit , Wrenn “Boardwalk Empire” Schmidt , Philip “Life on Mars” Glenister

Director: Adam “Autoerotic” Wingard

Writer: Robert “’The Walking Dead‘”Kirkman

Origin: USA

Review_____

“Do you even remember solid poop?!”

For years the debate has raged over the state of acclaimed gangster rap performer Tupac Shakur. Most people accept his violent demise in a gang related drive-by shooting. Some opt for the conspiracy theorist route and insist that the man is in hiding somewhere, asexually budding new brain rhyme babies in a self-sustaining shelter deep below the Andes mountain range until his enemies have all been destroyed and he can safely return to the public eye to retake his throne in the second coming of rap Jesus. But few know the truth I’m going to share with you now: Tupac Shakur is being held in isolation at Area 51, examined and experimented on following a run-in with a mythical creature that left him… changed. No longer the Str8 Ballin’ perpetrator of the Ghetto Gospel and purveyor of California Love, he is now the nocturnal menacer of the innocent known as The Tupacabra!

Now that that Unsolved Mystery can be dragged and dropped into the “Solved Shit” folder, let’s all move on with our lives together, hand-in-hand, into the Great Unknown. First on the docket for the undocumented? “Outcast”.

Not to be confused with hip-hop duo Outkast (who gave us Alpha level earworms like “Hey Ya!” and “Ms. Jackson”), today’s topic of interest has a lot in common with “Preacher” (see last week’s review). They’re both cable TV shows based on mature reader comic books that center around Christian religious horror themes and they both premiered on the same weekend. Is it enough common ground that the two would hit it off during a round of speed dating and litter a motel room floor with their vestments mere hours after first contact? Fuck if I know. I don’t speed date. When I’m on the lookout for an inkwell in which to dip my dick-shaped quill, I just hit up DeitiesBone.com for theological trim. Use the code word “ANUBIS69” when you sign up and get a 3% discount on your Platinum or higher membership fee!

Whereas preacher Jesse Custer’s tale is more about over-the-top violence and what-the-fuck moments while accompanied by his oddball associates, “Outcast” keeps its themes more grounded in traditional religious horror. Namely demonic possession and the resultant evictions of said Satanic squatters. Our eponymous outcast is thirty-something Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), who we first meet inhabiting his childhood home in self-exile. Living as a hermitous hoarder, Kyle’s living off of his savings account, munching milkless bowls of dry cereal and presumably just hoping the place will burn down eventually and take him with it. His sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt), however, refuses to let her brother rot in peace and forces him go out into public with her, baiting him with the promise of groceries and basically cuckolding her own sibling into eating less like a college freshman and more like a human being.

With the exception of the embarrassment that comes with being a grown ass man whose sister has just taken control of your basic life decisions, this isn’t exactly coming off like much of a supernatural horror show, is it? Well, I was just about to get to that part ya paranoid android, so just hold your hard drive!

When he was a young lad, Kyle was the target of some pretty savage Babadookian domestic abuse by his mom. Everybody in the neighborhood knew about it, but chalked it up to her being bipolar, or “single parent stressed” as people called it before brain science gave us the term that always makes you think about a bi-sexual polar bear every time you hear it. Don’t pretend like you don’t. Denial ain’t just the river Isis and Osiris used to take us anthropomorphic ankle biters on holiday.

So, much like other rampant instances of abuse in those days (the ’80s?), nobody said anything and everybody just pretended it wasn’t their responsibility. If this were the final episode of “Seinfeld”, the entire town would’ve gone to jail. But, said abuse actually wasn’t the fault of Kyle’s mom (who I hear is a super King Kamehameha bitch on Sundays), nor was it even the fault of her broken brain. Mrs. Barnes was possessed. Like Linda Blair, only with less head-twisting and “LET JESUS FUCK YOU!” stuff. Eventually she ended up catatonic in a long term care facility (I won’t spoil how), Kyle and Meg got married (not to each other, ya weirdo), and due to some complicated complications Kyle was forced to leave his wife and daughter, hence why he now lives alone in the seclusion of his inherited homestead.

While out resupplying with sis, our hero overhears some ladies gossiping about a local boy who seems to be suffering an unwanted Satanic tenant of his own. After some soul searching, Kyle inevitably decides to offer up his help to Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), the priest assigned to execute the evil spirit’s eviction notice. I won’t go any further with how the amateur exorcism plays out, but I will give you this much: it gives us our first explanation as to the title of the series and we learn from Anderson that said kid’s soul isn’t the only popular spot for demonic tourism in the area.

Unlike “Preacher”, I went into “Outcast” with my geek blinders on. Though I have the first 5 issues of the series locked away somewhere in my vault of four-color horrors, I’ve yet to read them. Much like the 2,000 or so movies I intend to review eventually but will likely never get through before my inevitable death at the hands of an enraged Charles Band. As such, I can’t verify or deny whether the show sticks to its source material or is veering from the creative path. Creator Robert Kirkman is not only along as an Executive Producer (much like he is with “The Walking Dead” and “Fear the Walking Dead”), but he’s also the show’s writer, so that’s hopefully a good sign for things to come as far as keeping the fans of the funnybooks happy.

The gore and violence are graphic enough to induce a few “what the fuck?!”s. The acting is fine. I haven’t seen anything amazing yet, but everyone plays their parts well enough. Fugit and Schmidt work well together as brother and sister, as do Fugit and Glenister as exorcist and sidekick. Fugit also does well in his portrayal as a shut-in. He’s proven that if he put a pillow under his shirt and grew out a huge beard and mullhawk (party down the middle and business on-the-sides!) he could play me in the adaptation of my award winning autobiography, Anubis: Browwed and Proud.

Oddly enough, my favorite part of the show was pint-sized actor Gabriel Bateman. “Oddly” due to my life mantra that child actors are the worst thing to happen to movies other than Uwe Boll. Young Master Bateman's (wakka wakka!) turn as the possessed little boy Joshua was great. Not so much for his vocal work (I was expecting something more demonic, to be honest), but because when we see him first possessed, the small things in his physical performance are very impressive. The subtle way he touches objects as someone experiencing them for the first time are perfect given that he's been taken over by a demonic presence that more than likely has never been subjected to our material world before. Kudos, kiddo.

Even though I gripe about how overplayed the possession/haunting theme is in current spookshow productions, I have to admit that I’m intrigued on the subject being shown in show form. You know, besides the two or three-hundred “ghost chasers” programs broadcast on cable channels that no one would watch otherwise, and whatever series that “Medium” or “Ghost Whisperer” may have beget, of which I have zero knowledge or interest. Season 2 was already confirmed before the premiere even aired, so there will be more adventures for our Outsider, Kyle Barnes (and whoever else survives these first 10 episodes). Speaking of, I’m curious enough to keep up with the show if for no other reason than to see if my theory about the origin of our hero’s eponymous moniker is what I think it is.

Coming from someone whose weekly television viewing habits are limited to watching 6 hours of professional wrestling, Comedy Central’s weeknightly 11pm to 12:30am block, and waiting for everything else to come to NetFlix/Hulu/Amazon in season-long chunks, it’s an interesting time for TV. Check out “A Darkness Surrounds Him” if you’re down with tortured characters battling inner demons and outer demons played straight and see if you like it. At worst, you lose an hour of your life you’ll never get back. At least it’s less time than you would’ve lost watching an Adam Sandler movie! You’re welcome.

Moral of the Story: Whether you opt to call the cops or the clergy, call SOMEBODY when you see signs of child/domestic abuse in your neighborhood! Whether the demons involved come from a bottle or a realm of eternal punishment, don’t be that shit who regrets not doing something when they had the chance to help someone who couldn’t help themselves.

Screenshots_____

Looks like Kayako got her hair stuck in a door. Again. Seriously, ghost girl, this happens every week! Just get the damn haircut already! You could donate it to Warlocks of Love! *rimshot*


“You’re my conscience? Like Jiminy Cricket?! Where’s your top hat and suit?”
“Look kid, could you stop worrying about my wardrobe and just kill your parents like I told you to?!”


I wonder if it took longer than a day to build that town.


Hey! Good to see Reg Cathey was able to still find work after FANT4STIC! Let’s hope Miles Teller isn’t so lucky.


Greyskull was here. (Google “Kilroy” if that one went over your head)


He kinda looks like Norman Reedus after an allergic reaction to shellfish.


Dear mothers of the world: please stop walking around pantsless in the presence of your sons. It can make for very confusing phases in their sexual development. It’s true. Do you wanna be responsible for the next Jeffrey Dahmer or Timothy McVeigh? I didn’t think so.


“That was my last cough drop! I need that soothing relief for my sore throat! Give it back you little monster!”


“You need not a brush, child! The power of Christ combs you! The power of Christ combs you!”


Well, at least somebody enjoys “Saturday Night Live” enough to advertise it through graffiti. Not the best spot though. And I have no clue as to which cast member that’s supposed to be. Maybe Bill Hader? But he left years ago.


I’m guessing that the real estate agent left out the part where Kyle would be neighbors with Jason Voorhees.


I know how you feel, kid. I react the same way when my Evil Dead Bride opens the blinds after my 3 day marathons every time a new Elder Scrolls game comes out.


When you said you had a problem with “a little mold”, I wasn’t expecting The Spanish Inquisition Shunned House! My advice? Burn the whole place down, have holy men from several religions perform exorcisms on the remains, then put up a temporary residence like a trailer to see if it comes back before making any long term plans. Or, you know, just move.

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Anubis will return next time in
“The Little Merc Made”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

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Feature 77 – Preacher: “Pilot” (2016)

or “The Three People You Meet in Texas”

Featuring: Dominic “Agent Carter” Cooper , Joseph “Misfits” Gilgun , Ruth “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Negga

Directors: Evan “This Is the End” Goldberg , Seth “This Is the End” Rogen

Writers: Seth “The Green Hornet” Rogen , Evan “The Green Hornet” Goldberg , Sam “Breaking Bad” Catlin

Origin: USA

Review_____

”Sounds like the first verse of the worst country song ever written.”

I’m paranoid. In a good way. When I lay cheeks upon the porcelain seat, I check beforehand to make sure there’s more than two squares left on the tube and I peek the bowl to make sure no baby alligators or grinning ghoulies are waiting to make an appetizer out of my rump roast. I don’t wanna end up like that guy in Thailand whose excursion to the crapper resulted in a python trying to suck face with his trouser snake. For such occasions, always keep a machete in your magazine rack or just do what I’ve done and duct tape a meat cleaver to the handle of your plunger. Whether I need to waylay a wayward water moccasin or break-up a brown boa constrictor, I do not enter my wild kingdom unarmed. I am the T’Challa of the toilet room. Or, as we call it in The Tomb, the Elimination Chamber.

One thing my paranoia assures is that I go into any and every comic book movie or show with a gallon jug of trepidation. I have seen some of the greatest works of my generation reduced to smoldering ashes of regret and agony at the rape happy hands of studio executives that spun lengths of niche gold into panderous piles of mainstream straw that even the most starving of would-be consumer camels wouldn't give a second sniff, let alone ingest. Witnesses for the prosecution: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Constantine, and Fant4stic are the easiest targets off the top of my pointy ears, though I’m sure any fanboys/fangirls worth their weight in first appearances can rattle off another easy dozen within a blink of Scott Summers’ eyes. Such is the approach I’ve chosen to take with AMC’s second stab at four color fortune (following “The Walking Dead” of course), an adaptation Vertigo Comics’ (R-rated DC) long defunct series Preacher.

Running for 66 issues (not counting the side stories) over a 5 year stretch, the series was my introduction to Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, and Glen Fabry – a triumvirate of chaos aligned to create a perfect tapestry of entertainment. Ennis was the writer, Dillon was the illustrator, and Fabry painted the covers. Holy shit did he paint the ever lovin’ fuck outta those covers. By Ra’s balls. I wanted every one of those masterpieces on a poster or a t-shirt or painted on my car in high school. Here’s a taste.

I'm not going to delve into the finer points of the comic book or its many infamous tales of sexual debauchery, graphic violence, and hilarious heresy, so as to avoid ruining the reveal of whatever surprises the show might have in store for us. I'm also not going to butt vomit a whole buncha spoilers here since the fucking thing just aired less than two weeks ago! As with the “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” pilot, I also won’t be reviewing “Preacher” episode-by-episode. I’m just going to give my thoughts on the premiere, then maybe possibly think about giving consideration to the conceivably perchance reviewing of the first series as a whole, via this ass-a-hole. Got it? No? Good. Sally forth!

After 20 years of it being passed around as a potential feature film, a tv show turned out to be the easy answer to an adaptation. Garth Ennis himself thought it a better option than clown carring all of the comics’ major moments into a restrictive 2-3 hour runtime. There was a treatment by one John August (who wrote the Charlie’s Angels duece-ology and a lot of Timmy Burton’s movies since the turn of the century) being passed around Tinseltown that seemingly managed to do such a feat admirably, but to quote Ennis, “It taught me the lesson that it’s far too easy to overload this. If you do a straight adaptation, you are simply going to overload the story with grotesque characters and over-the-top bloodbath fight scenes. You’re going to create a whirling maelstrom that will simply bewilder a mainstream audience.” (From this interview)

The version we get is courtesy of longtime friends, creative collaborators, and self-professed super fans of the funnybooks, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, teaming up with writer Sam Catlin who made such magic for AMC with “Breaking Bad”. Ennis and Dillon gave their okays on the show and get producer creds too, so a modicum of my fears were allayed right off the bat. All aboard!

Annville is a small town in the big, big, morbidly obese state of Texas. How small? If you’ve heard the term “one horse town” to define the smallness of a small town before, consider this a half-horse town. Not in the way that a centaur is half horse, but in the way that a horse’s body might get caught in the glue grinder at an Elmer’s plant, leaving the unprocessed half to just *shlup* out onto the floor. Like that. Anyway, this small ass smallest of small town towns has a very small church that provides the locals with their weekly dose of religious guilt and condescension. This modest house of worship dedicated to the words of the Six-Packed Savior (a.k.a. Christ the Cruncher, a.k.a. The Saint of Sit-Ups, a.k.a. The Abvocate) is run by town preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper). In case you’re curious (or just need confirmation that you’ve connected the dots properly), yes, Uncle Jesse is the man after which the series is named. Like most multimedia bearers of the cloth he’s grown weary of both his position (theological sex jokes here) and his congregation, and spends much of this hour long pilot (no commercials for me!) contemplating giving his invisible cloud boss his resignation. Will Jesse rediscover his lost light and earn back his wavering flock, or stroll into his next sermon with his middle fingers held high and his head adorned with a “Take this job and shove it!” trucker hat?

Father Custer picks up a pair of hitchhikers on the journey to his answer in the form of his wild and crazy guy ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and an extremely Irish passer-by named Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun). The individual tales of how these two wind up crossing the Preacher’s path are both bat-shit crazy, hyper-violent, and perfectly appropriate for the dark humor the series is establishing. Without burying the leads, I’ll let you in on this much: Tulip’s a student of The Anarchist’s Cookbook and fights dirtier than Mike Tyson (that ain’t shawarma!), while Cassidy’s intro involves an umbrella, a cow, and more ultra-violence in 10 minutes than a gang of droogs could get up to in an entire month of Saturday nights!

Oh, and in case what I've told you so far hasn't been enough to sink a few cenobite hooks into your interest gland, there's also a mysterious screaming force from outer space that spends the majority of this introductory episode causing globetrotting savagery as it detonates various religious figures (including the greatest “in name only” cameo reference to a certain celebrity “spiritualist”ever) like human-sized carnage balloons! If that doesn't cinch in the aforementioned barbs, then I apologize for whatever devastating trauma you were subjected to that left you the soulless husk you are today…

FUCKING CARNAGE BALLOONS!

Roge and ‘Berg do far more justice to this project than they did with the flaming bag of Fido feces that was Green Hornet movie. So, though I appreciate anyone going into the show themselves with the proverbial pinch of sodium like myself, don’t get your blood pressure all Systolic Super Saiyan (“It’s over 9000!”) fretting. Sure, if you were hoping for a straight up adaptation, you’re shit outta luck. But, after watching the pilot, I feel the show’s in good hands. Good, perverse, sadistic, happy ending giving hands. And I’m going along with it. Much like “The Walking Dead”, I have an inkling of what’s in store, but my intrigue is piqued by knowing that the only thing that’s sure about “Preacher” is that nothing is for sure.

In a fun bit of “Connect the Dots” Trivia, our three main cast are interestingly linked to each other via prior roles. Cooper plays Tony Stark’s absentee poppa Howard in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while Negga (what up, my Negga?) was a big part of “Agents of SHIELD” as Raina, a reoccurring villainess-turned-inhuman Shuna Sassi knock-off. The pair are also in the Warcraft movie, whose lore I know little-to-nothing aboot, so pardon my hairy ebon ass if my hype levels for said release are anemic as a vampire in a world where SkyNet wins… I think I just gave mental birth to a future Syfy Original. I should’ve terminated the pregnancy. Apologies.

Though Cooper doesn’t share a prior geek link with Gilgun, the exceedingly Irish sir’s resume does overlap in a career Venn diagram with Miss Negga, as they played Rudy Wade and Nikki respectively in the BBC X-Men-ish (or “Strangers-ish” if you’re Ultraverse nasty) tv series about super powered juvenile delinquents “Misfits”. The duo were never part of the show during the same series though, so this is their first time sharing the screen.

Speaking of the cast, are they any good? Yes. I like everybody. The main cast is great. I wasn’t sure about Cooper’s Custer, as the production stills didn’t thrill me on him looking the part, but I’m okay with it now. Same with Tulip being changed from a blonde white woman into the lovely Ethiopian equivalent of a grown up Clementine from Telltale’s The Walking Dead adventure games. A pleasant surprise. And Gilgun as Cassidy? Magic. Dark magic. Dark magic the likes of which would give John Constantine a toothache. Character-wise, I’m not big on the remodeling job done with Sheriff Root (W. Earl Brown) so far, as I liked him better as the stereotypical Texan hard-ass jerk-off of the books. I do like the inclusion of new character Emily (Lucy Griffiths), although her feelings for Jesse are irritatingly obvious despite her best efforts to hide them. I hope she’s meant for more than just to be the jealous would-be girlfriend now that Tulip’s back in town, but we’ll have to wait and see.

I’ll come back sometime after the first season to do a wrap-up of the whole she-bang, but right now I definitely recommend giving this show a shot. If you’re into supernatural, gritty-grimy-gory twisted dramedy type shit, “Preacher” should be square in your entertainment crosshairs. Bang bang.

Moral of the Story: Violence makes violence and Gods don’t hold grudges.

Screenshots_____

Including your ear holes. Jesus is big into the aural sex. Don’t worry about the ass thing though. You’re only expected to give butt stuff to him on Christmas.


“Did you ever notice that my name backwards is ‘god’?! Damn. That’s so weeeeeeeird. Pass the Funyuns, bro?”


If Jason Sudekis and Taylor Lautner (Remember him? Me neither. I had to look up his name for this joke.) had a baby, then abandoned it at the doorstep of a Protestant orphanage.


“It’s a new age of scholastic sports! In the Texas of the future, all high school athletics conflicts are settled by one-on-one battles between team representatives. This is the world of Charles Band’s Mascot Jox!”


Don’t chug your Triaminic like Cassidy, kids, or you’re just asking for a mess. There’s a reason the bottles come with that little plastic shot glass. Use as directed.


They’re writing out “SUCK IT, ALIEN QUEERS!”. Despite their ignorance and intolerance for extraterrestrial races, at least their spelling is accurate.


In an effort to bring in fans of the highly lauded and incredibly popular Walking Dead adventure games, AMC has added series star Clementine to the TV show’s next season.


“Could God Himself commit a sin so grave that even God won’t forgive?” That’s the exact face a pastor made when I asked him the same question. He then invited me back to his place to discuss it further over some sacramental wine and crackers that smelled strongly of chloroform. Did I go? Yes. Were his remains ever found? No.


Donald Trump has found his running mate – the Mayor of Texas!


Once again I need to remind our viewers that are chronic masturbators: if you can’t take a day off every week, then at least use some manner of fire retardant lubricant.

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Anubis will return next time in
“The Love Below”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

Feature 42 – Iron Man: Rise of Technovore (2013)

or “Tony Starkner’s TechWar”

Featuring the Voices of: Matthew “Thundercats (2011)” Mercer , Eric “Ren & Stimpy ‘Adult Party Cartoon’” Bauza , Norman “The Walking Dead” Reedus

Director: Hiroshi “Highlander: the Search for Vengeance” Hamazaki

Writers: Brandon “Dead Space: Aftermath” Auman , Kengo “Tokyo Gore Police” Kaji

Origin: Japan

Follows:Marvel Anime: Iron Man

Followed By: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher

Review_____

“Why should I listen to someone irrelevant?”

Today’s topic may be about a good ol’ American made superhero icon, but the feature itself is a product of the Land of the Rising Sun. It’s like being told that you’re getting a Baconator from Wendy’s, only it was made by a sushi chef. You know it’s going to resemble what you asked for: it’ll probably be made with some fine Kobe beef, but there’s also the very high possibility that after you bite into it, something with tentacles is going to be smiling back at you from between those buns. That just sounded more x-rated than it needed to be. You’re welcome.

Back at the turn of the Willennium, Marvel created its own Japanese influenced comics known as the Mangaverse, where classic characters like Spider-Man and Iron Man were given new spins and designs based on pop culture tropes from across the pond, just without going so far as to include rape monsters. The Mangaverse started as a larf but went on to become a canonical dimension in the Marvel pantheon of alternate realities, designated Earth-2301. For those curious new-comers out there, the main Marvel universe that we all know and love is known as Earth-616. The 2301 wasn’t the first instance of a slathering of wasabi and roe on a Big Mac though. For that, we’d have to toss Mr. Peabody some Beggin’ Strips so he’d take us on a trip in the Wayback to 1978. Japanese geek dream factory Toei created their own version of Marvel’s Spider-Man for a live-action TV series. Ever wonder what the webslinger would look like as imagined by the people who gave the world Sailor Moon, Power Rangers and Prince of Space (“MST3K” fans know that last one painfully well)? I present to you: Supaidâ-Man .

Unlike the American live-action TV series that came the year before, at least that Japanese shit was fun stupid and not just stupid stupid!

Anyway, that was 35 years ago. More recently, in 2010, Marvel produced four 12-episode animated maxi-series for Japanese television network Animax that starred Marvel characters adapted to appeal to the new foreign audiences while trying to keep the core characteristics that made them globally popular in the first place. The subjects for this targeted marketing project were Iron Man, Wolverine, the X-Men, and Blade. Not sure how Blade made it into the mix to be honest, given that his cinematic career went out with a fart back in 2004 with Blade: Trinity. This isn’t like the days before the internet when Japan was always 10 years behind in terms of catching up to US pop culture. Whatever the case, if you’ve seen the Iron Man movies, then you should be good to go here without having to have seen the 12 episode anime. The titular villain is the only real new addition to the story, but his background is heavily linked to the events of the first live-action movie, so we dirty gaijin won’t be left out of the loop. With all of that said, let’s see what’s in this spicy tuna burger.

For starters, IM:RoT (love that acronym) is written by Kengo Kaji and Brandon Auman. Kaji wrote for Tokyo Gore Police and Uzumaki (two brilliant pieces of Japanese guano lunacy), while Auman penned several episodes of “Iron Man: the Armored Adventures” and “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”. Ironically enough, NOT the Technovore centric episodes of either series. I can’t speak much for “Armored Adventures”, but “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” is one of the best comic book cartoons since “Batman: the Animated Series”. A pretty solid pedigree to build something spectacular around, correct? That fucking two star rating at the top of this page says otherwise.

Tony Stark (Matt Mercer) is up to his usual high-tech industrialist antics. His latest project is The Howard: a super-powered surveillance satellite designed for Marvel’s Black Ops peace keeping organization SHIELD. You know, Strategic Hazard something Espionage something Dentists or whatever. The satellite is named after Tony’s dad Howard Stark, and will allow SHIELD to go full-on Big Brother on the Earth to prevent global terrorism. Basically, they’re looking to do a full Orwell and go 1984 squared, which would be 3936256… I don’t know, math humor? Anyway, a planet spanning snooping plan that will allow its controller to record everybody in the world on the shitter and/or masturbating in the shower? Yeah, no way this can POSSIBLY go wrong!

On the day The Howard is set to make its launch into orbit (to the chagrin of EVERYBODY who doesn’t already live in a nudist colony), the launch site is assaulted by a group of mech suited mercenaries called The Raiders, who are seemingly set on keeping SHIELD’s balls off of everybody’s lips while they’re sleeping. If these guys are anything like their NFL counterparts though, they fail their jobs 96% of the time. Not exactly the kind of confidence you should be instilling in potential clients. Though they’d probably manage to screw the job up if left to their own devices anyway, Iron Man and War Machine (aka runner-up Iron Man) are there to make sure that Howie makes it to its new home amid the stars. Yep, Jimmie “War Machine” Rhodes (James Mathis III) is along for the ride too, so expect the casual dick measuring contests between he and Tony, as well as the usual “Rhodey saving Tony from his own overconfidence” routine. Given the “your real friends are always there when you need them” mentality of the ol’ superhero team-up scenario, don’t be surprised if War Machine also ends up being our tale’s Deus ex Machina… or Machina ex Machina, as the case may be. Speaking of machines, enter Technovore (Eric Bauza).

Well, don’t enter him, exactly. I’m no robosexual. You know what I meant.

In its original American form, Technovore looks something akin to a Human Centipede made of Terminators. A Termipede, you might say. It’s made up of a colony of rogue nano-machines (i.e. microscopic robots) that allowed it to regenerate from damage and change its shape at will. This new version of Technovore is similar, yet very very different. Like every time a new Ninja Turtles show comes out. Instead of being pure machine, Neo-Vore’s actually an evil albino emo anime teen who speaks in anti-corporate rhetoric like an Occupy Wall Street castaway… wait, don’t go yet! The nano-machines are still in effect, but now they act more like a living techno-organic armor that can morph around this kid like liquid metal, T-1000 style. While Techy could presumably be using this to whip out an arsenal of blades, he opts instead to weaponize a series of floating spheres that hover around him. Guy’s got more balls flying around him than The Tall Man! But, not nearly as many balls as porn icon Houston, who added “author” to her resume when she chronicled her life in the autobiography, Pretty Enough: The Story of the Gang Bang Queen. A truer story than “The Real World”.

The attack on the Howard launch complex leads to a whole buncha civilian deaths, but TV fails to prevent Howard going into orbit thanks to Fe Sapien’s timely interference. The villainous ne’er-do-well refugee from One Direction gets away, but before he does he makes sure to detonate the control tower and everyone in it, including Rhodey and Starky. Ozzy Osbourne’s favorite hero escapes, but his sidekick ends up buried under a million tons of concrete and steel. He tries to dig through the rubble to find him (really? No GPS locator for such an emergency?), however Tony’s got shit to answer for with the powers that be like right fuckin’ now, so SHIELD sends a search and rescue team in to recover Iron Man Junior while Stark’s interrogated by SHIELD head honcho Nick Fury (John Bentley). The cycloptic hard-ass wants to make sure Stark himself had nothing to do with the attack on the Howard launch party (because… reasons?), and also wants him to stay out of the public eye (ocular humor!) until SHIELD can get the whole Technovore problem neutralized. Not one for the sidelines treatment (plus, his name is plastered across the fucking marquee), Iron Pants pops his clutch and invites the authority to bite his shiny metal ass, taking off to find TV on his own and deal out some genius billionaire philanthropist vigilante justice! Because we comic geeks love our crossovers and team-ups (and because The Avengers is one of the highest grossing movies EVER), Fury sends agents Black Widow (Clare Grant) and Hawkeye (Troy Baker) out to bring the errant outlaw back. Hey, when your villain has the potential to create techno-organic tentacles, you can’t just have a big sausage party! Hence, Busty St. Widow. Speaking of tentacles, I’ll bet Mickey Rourke’s electrified whip gimmick went in a whoooole different direction for the Japanese cut of Iron Man 2. Hell, Whiplash was probably the hero!

In his efforts to hunt Techy to avenge Rhodey, stop the baddie AND prove that his old clunky iron dick is superior to the shiny young morphing dong of the new hotness, Tony needs a tour guide to the underworld (not the the literal underworld, otherwise he would’ve been ringing my hotline) to help him connect the dastardly dots and find the fiend for which he searches. He needs someone with a history of deep involvement in the world of illegal death dealing on a military scale. Someone to whom human life is justified as disposable for the right reasons: his reasons. Someone to whom the justice system is to be ignored for the sake of his own benefit and to whom “morals” is a four-letter word. Someone willing to shoot his own friend in the face if the situation calls for it. Yes, Tony needs the help of… Dick Cheney! But, despite his cyborg circulatory system, “Deadeye” Dick’s a little old for this line of work, so Tony just tracks down The Punisher (Norman Reedus) instead.

I guess Big Pun must still be really popular in Japan, cuz I can’t think of any other reason he’d be shoehorned into this story. Especially given Stark’s whole “murder is not the answer” philosophy. His entire basis for becoming a superhero (beyond his ego) is to make up for all the years his company developed military weapons that led to the deaths of untold tens of thousands of people! Yet, rather than contact Captain America or some other non-fatal character who could get him the info he needs, Stark’s first choice is to shake hands with a devil whose mitts aren’t red because he’s an actual devil, but because he’s been elbow deep in so much blood in his lifetime that they’re stained that color.

Without pulling the veil back too much (IM:RoT was just released last year, after all), I’ll just say this about the rest of the movie – it’s pretty much a testament to Japan’s love for mech porn, twisted monsters, penis shaped entities that shoot sperm-like tendrils, and the island nation’s long standing feud with China. Shanghai gets it pretty hard in the last 15 minutes or so. And when the ACTUAL deus ex machina comes around in the end, it is PAINFULLY stupid, despite Tony saying he’s not stupid for preparing such protocols for said emergency. It’s not the prep that’s dumb, it’s the circumstances required to activate said emergency protocols and… damn that old gypsy chieftain for touching my face and whispering “No spoilers!” after I ran over his wife while getting road head! Ra damn it! Where’s Joe Mantegna when I need him?! ARGH!

Anyway, enough about the story. If you want to see the rest of it for yourself, that’s on you. As for me? On with the complaining!

Let’s start by addressing the elephant-shaped turd in the room: the voice acting. When it comes to an animated movie, voice acting should be your first priority. Your movie can look like utter eyeball orgasms, but if your voice cast spends their time jamming filthy Q-Tips into my ear canals, I’m not gonna care. The voice acting just straight up murders this movie. Red handed. In front of witnesses. On camera. In the middle of the Super Bowl halftime show.

Matt Mercer’s Tony Stark is baaaaaad. I don’t mean black breakdancer in an ’80s movie “baaaaaad” to mean exceptionally good, I mean the originally intended detrimental terminology of the word, extended outward with numerous additional ‘a’s to accentuate the shittiness of this performance. Mercer’s reading Stark’s trademark cocksure dialogue with about as much aplomb as a guy reading the instructions off of a Hungry Man frozen dinner box. Granted, the writing’s not exactly up to Joss Whedon standards, but that doesn’t mean your cast shouldn’t put a modicum of character into it. Sadly, Mercer’s performance isn’t the only one to pierce the annoyance centers of my cerebrum. Norman Reedus is a terrible choice to voice The Punisher, and was no doubt hired for his recognizable (yet still affordable) name due to “The Walking Dead”. Brooklyn born and raised Frank Castle does NOT sound right with a southern drawl, even as slight a one as Reedus tries to rein in. On top of the accent, Castle’s also given that perpetual “guy who just woke up” gruff whisper voice and doesn’t come off as bad-ass, it just makes him sound really disinterested and cranky. Finally, John Bentley as Nick Fury? After watching Samuel L. Jackson give us a calm, calculating, completely in command version of the visually impaired roughneck ever since the post-credits tease from the original Iron Man, it’s weird to see him vocally portrayed here more like Jules fuckin’ Winnfield from Pulp Fiction. You know how Japan is though: all black people fall into one of two categories – 90s rap videos or 70s blaxploitation movies. To them, all Samuel L. Jackson characters look the same.

When it comes to adapting characters for Japanese audiences, Iron Man is a natural fit. Sure, the “wealthy industrialist” aspect of his persona kinda conflicts with the traditional Japanese transforming hero archtype of loner motorcyclist/orphan child/unassuming shoe-shiner, but imagine him as Roger Smith from “Big O” and it’s not so hard to see Japan getting behind him. Stark’s snark remains intact, it’s just really flaccid. As for Iron Man, I was looking forward to seeing something interesting in regards to the suit design, but was disappointed to see it’s basically the same stuff we’ve been given in the US. About the only real change made to Iron Man was his methodology toward killing robots. Rather than just punching and shooting everything into scrap metal, during a fight scene with a few dozen SHIELD mandroids (“big robots” for you uninitiated), Tony fights more like Casshern than Shellhead! He was running and jumping around and doing sick axe kicks! When did Tony Stark become Tony Jaa?! Just one of those little tweaks to appeal to the foreign market. Feels weird, but I understand why it’s there. Besides, how can I say no to SICK AXE KICKS?! WAAAAAAAAAA!

Okay, on the topic of tweaks, let’s talk Technovore. Rather than just being a rogue AI, TV’s one of those kids whose dad was a huge dickhole that placed impossible educational standards on him his entire life, and treated him like he was nothing more than the $20 worth of organ meat he’s be sold as in a batch of Farmer Vincent’s Fritters. Impossible parental expectations? Japanese kids can identify with that. On top of it, he’s got a connection to Tony’s past (“No spoilers!”) which throws in another dimension to the proceedings. Also, Techno works way better as a human in a morphing suit of armor than as a weird cyber monster. At first I questioned why you’d want your big feature headlined by a bad guy that’s barely a footnote in the hero’s history. The exact question being “What the fuck is this?”. But, by turning ‘Vore into a threat to Stark on a tech level, an intelligence level AND an old generation vs. new generation level, I was on board. I’d be interested in seeing this version of Techy carry over into the actual comic series, especially given Iron Man’s notorious lack of depth in his rogues gallery.

Like most Marvel characters, the appeal in Iron Man is in the person behind the heroics. IM:RoT ignored that for the most part, and thus Tony takes a backseat to almost everybody else in the cast. Maybe if they’d spent less time trying to build a market for other characters and remembered whose name is actually in the title, we would’ve had time for a little more characterization. It’s a PG-13 movie too, so you can’t even market this to kids who would look past the bad voice acting and poorly constructed story because of the Punisher’s graphic gun violence toward a gang of arms dealers and the casual use of the word “shit” by a few characters. Then again, parents these days let their 5 year olds play Grand Theft Auto, so what the fuck do I know.

Final judgment? I like Technovore the villain more than I like Technovore the movie. I’m okay with sitting through the cliched “hero turned outlaw” story, but I think tossing in The Punisher was unnecessary. There are a couple of decent moments showing off Stark’s self-absorbed personality (the best of which can be seen in one of the screenshots below), but very little is shown of his insecurity as the old guy at risk of being outdone by the younger model. And that big emergency plan at the end? Eyeballs deep in bullshit. As for me, I’ve gotta finish trimming my Cthulhumas tree and putting together my wreaths of shapeless horror for next week’s Feast of the Damned Souls, so I’m gonna get my hoary hosts of Hoggath in gear. See yourselves out and feel free to take one of the human skin umbrellas by the door. Don’t want ya getting wet and catching a cold this time of year. After while, crocodiles!

Moral of the Story: You don’t need your kneecaps to breathe.

Screenshots_____

The movie’s called Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, and The Punisher gets top billing in the credits over both Iron Man AND Technovore?! Whatchoo talkin’ about, Reedus?


“Damn! These iPhones are getting RIDICULOUS!”


Of course Japan would create a supervillain that looks like a big armored dildo straight out of Daft Punk. Of fucking course.


“Yes, Ron. Everybody knows about your weird fetish and we’ve all accepted it as a major part of who you are. But this is a call center and if you can’t come to work dressed appropriately, we’ll have to let you go.”


Sure, he looks cooler because of the black in his color scheme, but there’s a reason War Machine’s also decked in silver: he’ll always be second best when it comes to Iron Men.


Tony Stark realizes too late that he neglected to include a rear ventilation system in his latest armor design…


“I can hear you whispering back there. For the record, I lost my eye during a VERY intense game of Paper, Rock, Scissors that got out of hand. Never play that game drunk. End of story.”


“Yeah, I mean, it came out fine. I wish I’d gone with the ‘me as a centaur’ plan though. Alex Rodriguez swears by his guy. Oh well, maybe next time.”


“Hello, ma’am. May I have a moment of your time to tell you about Android-tology?”


I hope that little red dot’s a bindi, cuz if that guy isn’t a practicing Hindu, he might wanna start praying that reincarnation’s a thing real quick.


Punisher’s about to learn the meaning of the term “like fighting a rhino with spitballs”.


This is what Burt Gummer means when he says he has a new “magazine rack” next to his toilet.


Castle knows that Stark pissed in his coffee, but he’s not going to give him the satisfaction of spitting it out.


Vigilantes get a little too kinky for my tastes.


“Deal with it.” (I’m too lazy to animate a pair of 8-bit sunglasses into the picture. Use your imagination.)


“What what? In the butt butt!” (Since we’re digging up internet fads)


“Do I leave my breasts so exposed because it allows me a tactical advantage by distracting my enemies, or am I just seeking the wrong kind of attention from would-be father figures? It’s way past time for me to get to know me.”


I knew there was going to be a tentacle monster in this movie somewhere! This is what happens when your population eats genetically engineered, cube-shaped watermelons!


After that day, Tony Stark never watched Asian schoolgirl porn again… or ate spaghetti.


Featuring an appearance by special guest kaiju Dogora! (Godzilla was busy filming his big American re-debut)

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Anubis will return next time in
“It’s an Open Sore On a Putrid Shore”

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