Ultimate Avengers: The Movie
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The Ultimates have been around for a few years in Marvelís comic book world. Basically, after decades of superhero continuity, the Marvel universe became so complex and convoluted that it was nearly impossible for new fans to jump into the series. Therefore the Ultimates were created. They are the same super heroís you know and love, but without the burden of decades of complex history. They were billed as new stories you could just pick up and read at your leisure. The problem with the Ultimates is that they have started forming a continuity of there own, and itís only a matter of time before that universe is as complex as the original.
But that is neither here nor there. What we are reviewing today is Marvelís first animated movie based on the Ultimates, The Ultimate Avengers. Now, these Avengers have nothing to do with Uma Thurman. These Avengers are a super hero team charged with defending the planet. Over the years just about every character in the Marvel Universe has been a card-carrying member of the Avengers at some point. For this story, they chose to focus on Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Wasp, Giant Man, The Hulk, and last but not least, The Black Widow.
The animation in this movie is far from great. For those who were expecting Pixar or Disney qualityÖsorry. Think along the lines of G.I. Joe or Transformers. The art itself is decent, but even that feels dated. I am really disappointed this feature wasnít more state of the art. The voice acting is very good. Of course I may be a bit biased because one of the actors is a personal hero of mine, Luke SkywÖerrÖMark Hamill.
The story is decent. It didnít really wow me. It starts in the backdrop of WWII. Apparently the Naziís have teamed up with aliens to build super weapons and conquer the world. It is up to Captain America to stop them. Unfortunately events unfold and he gets frozen in ice. Fast forward to present day and were now watching Shield searching the ocean. Shield is a government top secret project, much along the lines of the NSA. As luck would have it, they find the Captain and bring him back to life. Now one would think that Marvel would take this opportunity to delve into his personal side and show the turmoil of being frozen for 50 years. Nope, not here. He is in perfect shape and he is immediately made the leader of the Avengers and he goes off working for the government like he never missed a beat. The story then dives into meeting the other characters, but they are never developed as characters and more or less become background noise. Finally we meet the Hulk, only he isnít big, green, and dumb. Heís gray, slightly smaller, and smart. This is not the Hulk icon that America has grown to love. This is an obscure Hulk that unless you were a comic fan in the early 90ís, you know nothing about.
That leads to my biggest problem with this movie. It was billed as a flick that anyone can just pick up and watch, but itís not. If you are not familiar with the comic books then this simply wonít make that much sense. They expect the audience to know too much history about these characters. This is defiantly more for the hardcore fan then the casual one.
Marvel did do a heck of a job on the special features though. You can enable Avengers trivia, which will display trivia quips while you are watching the feature. This really helps explain a lot for fans who are not in the loop. They have also given us behind the scenes on both the movie and the voice actors. Theyíve thrown in some nice trailers and topped it off with a look at Ultimate Avengers 2. Not to shabby for a sub-$20 DVD.
Personally, I like this disc. Itís decent enough to be worth the purchase for me. Heck, I even like the disc itself. They made it look just like Capís shield. It just will not appeal to the mass audience. If I hadnít spent the past 20 years actually following comic books, I probably would dismiss this. Itís well worth a rental, but only the truly hardcore fans should consider purchasing it.
Added: Thursday, February 23, 2006
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