Saturday, March 25, 2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI'm sorry, I couldn't help myself. I Netflixed Ultimate Avengers: The Movie and watched it this morning. And, I was mostly underwhelmed. But, I expected no more or less, so I guess it's a case of no harm, no foul.

Basically, this is a dumbed-down and sanitized version of the first Millar/Hitch/Neary Ultimates series, poorly animated in the awkward, semi-fluid musclebound style of the 90's-era X-Men and Spider-Man Saturday morning cartoons, and completely lacking two of the key components of its comics inspiration- the widescreen splendor (even though it is available in widescreen, which isn't used to any sort of advantage) of Hitch & Neary's art and the snarkiness and down-to-earth nature of Millar's scripts. Don't be fooled by the packaging, which uses Hitch and Neary art. Makes one wonder why they named it "Ultimate" Avengers, since it's closer in spirit to the mainstream Marvel version of the Avengers. Yeah, I know, the infidels, the great unwashed non-comics-buying people of the world out there don't know or care about the difference, but this would appear to be a production by fanmen for other fanmen, so what gives? Another annoyance: Hank Pym is an even bigger prick than he is in the comics- whiny, jealous, and egotistical. And you know this old Giant-Man fan from way back just loved that. The voice work is fair-to-middling: Olivia D'Abo is good, speaking with a Russian accent as the Black Widow (more on her later), and voiceover vet Grey DeLisle is fine as the Wasp. The actor for Tony Stark does a good job as well. But they totally botch Thor, having him speak in an echo-laden, booming voice that is supposed to suggest his godhood, I guess, but the voice actor doing the speaking doesn't understand that he needs to underplay, and the effect is ridiculous. Thor has no beard here, either, making him come across like Val Hallen of the Justice Friends.

On the plus side, even though it was a Cliff's Notes script it moved along at a decent clip, and was seldom boring. The soap operatics didn't grate, and the scenes in which Captain America reconnects with his life were done with a minimum of schmaltz. Out of all these characters, I liked they way they adapted the Black Widow best- along with her voice work, she was portrayed as a super-capable, swift-and-deadly agent and second to Nick Fury, and I was impressed. If only the rest of the cast had been handled as well, this might have been a LOT better.

Even though that is almost two hours of my life I'll never get back, I couldn't bring myself to hate this cartoon. I couldn't bring myself to like it all that much
either. Compared to the vastly superior Justice League Unlimited, this falls way short of the mark. Looking at some of the bonus features, I watched a short preview of the sequel, already in production- it involves the Black Panther in Wakanda, and looks livelier, from what they showed, mostly animated production pencil drawings. Your mileage may vary, especially if you're not picky about your animation- but while I found something to like, I don't recommend.

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Sorry, guys. C+

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