Property review: Ultimate Avengers (animated)

Pho­tos cour­tesy of the Mar­vel Data­base Wikia

ULTIMATE AVENGERS

Lionsgate/Marvel Ani­mated Fea­tures, 2006

Ulti­mately awe­some: Avengers car­toon passes test

We should start out by say­ing that we’re long­time comic fans. We’ve fol­lowed Marvel’s heroes for years and we’ve read issues of the Ulti­mates when it debuted. There’s one word that describes the Ulti­mates per­fectly — cin­e­matic. From the dra­matic art to the epic sto­ry­telling, the comic had all the mak­ings of a great film. We always hoped they’d make a live-action ver­sion of it, but it’s easy to see why Mar­vel would choose it as the first of their adult-oriented animation.

So, how did it trans­late from the printed page to the small screen? Not too shabby in our opinion.

The first thing any fan of Mar­vel will note about this ani­mated movie is that the dark and vio­lent edge has been taken off of Mark Millar’s story. This is under­stand­able since they want to mar­ket this film to the widest audi­ence pos­si­ble, but it also removes some of the plot points that made it unique.

For exam­ple, Hank Pym doesn’t abuse his wife, Janet. They bicker, but there’s no domes­tic abuse any­where. Cap­tain Amer­ica doesn’t beat the crap out of Hank and break his jaw. The Hulk is also vio­lent, but he isn’t the embod­i­ment of the male psy­che run amok. (He doesn’t want to kill Fred­die Prinze Jr. for being on a date with Betty.) That being said, though, ele­ments of that edge are still present mainly in the action scenes. The Hulk breaks Giant Man’s knee. The Wasp flies into Hulk’s ear in a mem­o­rable moment. We also see Cap­tain Amer­ica fly a plane into a Ger­man base from the spec­tac­u­lar open­ing of the comic. So, though it has been watered down to a degree, there’s still a lit­tle bit of the edge left.

The film takes a few key scenes and the over­all alien inva­sion plot and reshuf­fles it around to fit the needs of peo­ple with atten­tion deficit dis­or­der. For exam­ple, you have mem­o­rable scenes like the Hulk’s ram­page (now at the end of the story), Cap­tain America’s open­ing bat­tle and Steve Rogers’ revival. How­ever, you also have some changes like a new action scene involv­ing a bat­tle at a SHIELD base, a plane res­cue scene by Iron Man and the alien inva­sion set in New York. There are also some changes to the char­ac­ters. In the comic, Iron Man had a huge staff help­ing him main­tain the suit while in this film Tony Stark works solo and anony­mously. Thor is also a lit­tle dif­fer­ent: He’s still an activist, but this time, the Norse god is sav­ing the whales, which is ironic since Nor­way is one of two coun­tries still hunt­ing whales. You’d think Vikings would like whale burgers.

The ani­ma­tion in the film is a bit dif­fer­ent. The char­ac­ter designs and back­grounds look pretty good, and the char­ac­ters are highly detailed and full of color. There are times when the ani­ma­tion is spec­tac­u­lar, mainly dur­ing the fight scenes, how­ever, the qual­ity seems to waver between a Sat­ur­day morn­ing ani­ma­tion and big-screen ani­ma­tion. It never quite achieves the level of excel­lence that most adult audi­ences have come to expect. They seem to be aim­ing for anime level of qual­ity, but it never quite reaches it. The end result seems to be just what Mar­vel intends — ani­ma­tion that is just good enough to tell the story and cheap enough that they can crank it out quickly cash in, then move to the next film.

The voice actors of this movie did a great job. Each voice seemed to fit with each char­ac­ter. There is some heavy star power for this project. And you feel that expe­ri­ence in every line and scene. Fred Tatas­ciore, who voices Hulk on many projects is here. He makes you think that he has always been the Hulk with every roar, scream and refer­ring to him­self in third per­son. Justin Gross (Cap­tain Amer­ica) is Ryu Hayabusa in Ninja Gaiden series and the Dead or Alive series. Nolan North has made his name known all over the place, notably as Dead­pool in “Hulk VS.” The voice act­ing works great and noth­ing seems dry or out of place. And if you think you can make a bet­ter Thor, you should watch some of the other peo­ple try out for those parts and see if you add up to these expe­ri­enced actors.

The Ulti­mate Avengers is a great movie for super­heroes fans of all ages. There is some­thing for every­one here: There’s a love story, some­one try­ing to find their place in this world, a guy who wants to pro­tect the world from the peo­ple in it, and a story of friends from dif­fer­ent world. This is what the kids of all ages look for in a super­hero story.

HOW WE GRADE

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Cast­ing: 9/10

Plot: 9/10

Like the comics?: 8/10

Over­all rat­ing: 8.6

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