Ultimate Avengers (2006)

Genre(s): Action / Animation
Lions Gate || PG13 - 72 minutes - $19.98 || February 21st, 2006
Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2006-02-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Curt Geda, Steven E. Gordon
Writer(s): Mark Millar (characters), Greg Johnson (story/screenplay), Boyd Kirkland (story), Craig Kyle (story)
Cast: VOICES - Justin Gross, Olivia d'Abo, Mark Hamill, Marc Worden, Fred Tatasciore


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Avengers Assemble Featurette
  • Ultimate Voice Talent Search
  • First Look at Ultimate Avengers II
  • Avengers Trivia Track


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.77)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: None

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.::THE FILM::.

When I first heard Marvel was partnering with Lions Gate Films to produce straight to DVD animated films, I was more than a little skeptical. While Marvel was once a king in the "action animation industry" in the early-mid 90's, their last few efforts (Spider-Man Unlimited, MTV's "Spider-Man", the upcoming/lame looking Fantastic Four, and X-Men Evolution) were a far step down from their earlier works (though to it's credit, X-Men: Evolution improved by leaps and bounds during it's final season). I didn't think this film would be anything to get excited about. My other main concern was the question of why do this in the first place? Why not just make an live-action Avengers movie? It all seemed rather pointless.

But the more I learned about the project, the less skeptical I had become. It was to be based on the first arc from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's "Ultimates" comic books and be almost a direct translation of the material(with a few changes here and there). Without making this review too long-winded I should say that the Ultimates is from a line of Marvel Comics known as well... Ultimate comic books. They are modern day spins on Marvel's biggest icons. In addition to the Ultimates (aka the Avengers) there is also Ultimate Spider-man, Ultimate X-men, and Ultimate Fantastic Four, all of which are very popular books. I'm a fan of all of them (well, I'm not huge on the Ultimate FF but that's for another article..). But no matter how comic faithful a project promises to be, it doesn't mean it's gonna be great. I mean, I like the Daredevil film quite a bit but a masterpiece, it ain't. When I got the DVD in the mail on Saturday, I popped it in and hoped for the best.

Wow. This movie is f***ing awesome. No, really, it is. Stop rolling your eyes cause I'm not kidding. Ultimate Avengers, though not a direct translation of the book from whence it's based, is a very good animated film. It's on par with something like Batman Beyond:Return of the Joker which is to say it's a VERY good animated film that doesn't pander to the audience and treats the material with great respect. The story follows Captain America as he is first shown in World War II before being "reawakened" in modern day times by Nick Fury and the U.S. Government. Cap has been brought out of hibernation to lead the Avengers (a group Fury put together consisting of Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, Giant Man, and Black Widow) into battle against an threatening alien invasion. At the same time, the team also must deal with an increasingly irritable scientist named Bruce Banner who has another side that he has a hard time controlling. Yep, he's the Hulk. So the Avengers gotta bust up Aliens and Hulk and somehow get along.

Like I said, it's an awesome movie. There's a lot that works but then there's some things that don't or aren't quite as good as they should be. As far as the good stuff, the animation is beautiful to look at. Not quite feature quality but much better than most dvd fare. The writing on the film is quite great. It's very much an adult film though it's not hardcore enough for you to have to shield your kids from it. Well, at least not your older kids. The film does have some mild language and the battle with the Hulk contains some blood, so if the kid is under 9 or so, you might want to watch it with them. Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk/Banner, Fury, and Wasp all come off particularly great here. The fight scene at the end with Hulk is probably one of the best fight scenes I've EVER seen in an cartoon before (it's almost on par with Megatron/Optimus Prime's smack down in the 80's kid classic Transformers the movie!) and in fact, most of the action scenes are incredibly good.

Now the bad (and really, it's not too bad). The movie is only 71 minutes long so some of the characters don't get as developed as they really need to be for us to care about them. Thor and Iron Man are great in fight scenes but Thor is really only present for about 2 scenes and Iron Man is also used less than he should be. Giant Man is in the movie enough but he came off like a bad ripoff of another popular Avenger (who wasn't used in the film) Hawkeye. Another problem with the length is that you feel like there's a good chunk of the film missing. It's almost like a 3 act play where you only get act 1 and act 3 and there's little to nothing in act 2. Marvel this film should've been at least 90 minutes! Another problem (and I'm really nitpicking here but I'll say it anyway) is that well... this is an cartoon. Now, I love cartoons (love them) but this movie really is more of a story you can do in live action. Why in the world couldn't this work as a live action film? The Avengers busting up the Hulk with all of their heavy hitter characters present? That's 150 million MINIMUM with a large possibility of 200 million. Like I said, that's a nitpick.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Avengers Assemble featurette - This is a very good feature on the history of the Avengers comic books. It runs about 25 minutes in length and features interviews with comic writers/artists/creators George Perez, Tom Brevoort, Kurt Busiek, Joe Quesada, and Mark Millar as they talk about all of their various times spent writing or drawing Avengers. Perez is a particular delight to watch as he's easily the most passionate about the book and it's characters and has probably worked on them more than any of the other creators interviews. My favorite feature easily.

Ultimate Voice Talent search - This is a really goofy feature that spotlights tons of audition videos marvel received of people wanting to do voiceovers for the film. I remember there being a contest like this last year. In the end, Marvel didn't pick ANY of them. I remember I didn't enter because I didn't have the video equipment to do the audition but in retrospect, I could've beat just about ALL of these people spotlighted. Out of the 30 or so shown in bits and pieces, only like 2 of them, I felt were better than I am. I think I could've won this thing lol. Goofy fun but not worth a 2nd viewing.

First Look at Ultimate Avengers II - This is an short making of featurette that talks about the 2nd film that will be released on dvd in July of 2006. it's not an adaptation but rather an original story. I'm not high on the idea of deviating from the comic when this first film was such a good adaptation but it certainly doesn't look like a bad film and I'll definitely watch that one too.

Avengers Trivia Track - This is one of thost factoid pop up things that plays with the movie if you want it to. It's not bad. I've always found those things kind of pointless but there are some pretty informative facts. If you're a comic fan, some of it is kind of old hat but there was even stuff there I didn't know (and I know a LOT). Worth a viewing or two.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Watch Cap, Thor, and Hulk square off and try NOT to giggle with fanboy glee as you hear every pulse pounding crunch and hit. AWESOME audio.



.::OVERALL::.

Ultimate Avengers is not the best animated film of all time or even the best Marvel film but it's damn good and definitely worth your money. If you're a comic fan, it's a must buy but if you just like a good, intelligent action movie, it's probably your cup of tea too. Highly recommended.