02 August 2006

Ink Blots XXIII - Ultimate Avengers: The Movie

Sorry for the lack of review last week, but with a new month comes a new theme. This month Super Teams. Up first, Ultimate Avengers: The Movie.

I must confess, while I grew up loving most marvel comics, The Avengers were never that appealing to me. I much preferred the Justice League of America, the X-Men, and even the Fantastic Four. Nevertheless, I had heard great things about the Ultimates, of which this is an adaptation. Going into the film, I was pretty familiar with the Hulk, Captain America, Nick Fury (though this incarnation is basically Samuel L Jackson with an eye-patch), Thor, and Iron Man, but less up to speed with Giant Man, the Wasp and Black Widow. Basically, Giant Man (also called Ant-Man sometimes) can grow or shrink depending on the need of the situation. His wife, Wasp, can shrink and fly like a wasp. Black Widow is more or less a female Bond type that fights with handguns. So, if you have been counting, that's 8 members of the team crammed into 72 minutes, way too ambitious. The Cap and Hulk get most of the character development, which makes sense, as they are the most well known, but still, some of the lesser knowns never got me to care about them, let alone remember their role in the film.

The opening of the movie is a fantastic little sequence set in 1945. Captain America leads some soldiers to destroy the Nazi's last hope for victory -- a super weapon made by aliens. The Cap does his thing, saves the day, and falls deep into the frigid ocean where he is frozen in ice until the present day when General Fury leads an expedition to find the Captain. Bruce Banner, AKA the Hulk is working for Fury and trying to replicate the super soldier serum which gave Captain America his powers. As it turns out, those Nazi loving alien buggers are back, and Fury is trying to usher along the Super Soldier program to combat them. In the mean time, a team of heroes (Project Avenger) is being assembled in case the serum doesn't pan out. Captain America is made the leader of the team, but the others are used to acting alone. When their first mission is a disaster, and the hot headed group all part ways. With the team broken up, the super soldier program is pushed forward. Bruce Banner thinks that the serum will allow him to control the Hulk, so he tests the serum on himself. At first Bruce is in control, but of course, nothing can stop the Hulk. The aliens turn out to be not such a threat in the face of the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers who decide that they can't just walk away, but after the alien threat is dealt with, the team member must unite to stop the Hulk from smashing everything. This closing battle is another highlight of the film.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie was the first of 8 planned direct to video Marvel movies aimed at a PG-13 crowd. Did it deliver? The animation is not jaw dropping, but it is decent, and the story was about as good as the limited time allowed it to be. More time and/or less characters would have given more breathing room to the film, but Ultimate Avengers 2 will build upon the foundations laid here (while adding more characters to the mix). Hopefully part 2, which also features the aliens, justifies the aliens inclusion as the main enemy. Here, there was too little explanation of motivation or strategy for the aliens. They were around in WWII, now they are back... but why? Overall, this film is worth checking out for any comics fan, especially fans of the Avengers though non-comics fans may feel like the movie is overstuffed with characters they don't recognize. I give Ultimate Avengers: The Movie a B.


Anonymous said...

No suprise this comes from Greg "Boy did my first season of Evo SUCK" Johnson, he does'nt get anything right on the first attempt in my opinion

UA was a fairly botched little affair when it was released, it completly missed the point, I recall someone on the forums for UA II stating that they did'nt know who to appeal to, and it's dead on the market, it does'nt know when to be too violent, and it does'nt know what age demographic it's supposed to cater to, and as a result the characterisations and deliverance of those characters through the actors becomes disjointed and inconsistent. Sometimes there good (Banner's VA) and sometimes you want to beat them over the head with an icepick (Rogers)

And why does EVERY Russian voice actress always try to sound like Linka from Captain Planet? BOS SEI MOI

Chip Chief said...

i sort of agree with you about these films not knowing what audience they are made for. they wanted to market the PG-13 to get teens, but they pulled some of the punches (alcoholism etc) that would have legitamized the rating. but still, this movie is enjoyable, if not too short.