Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jofo @ The Movies: Ultimate Avengers

Soooo why doesn't Marvel do more of these?

Its no secret that Marvel has a far better track record with their theatrical movies than DC. Aside from Batman, DC's heroes have not had nearly as many successful transitions to the big screen, however the one place where DC has had Marvel beat is in animated features. These movies are not meant for young children, like many superhero TV shows, instead catering to the regular comic book reader demographic (14-45). With many awesome films such as Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Justice League Doom, Marvel has had trouble competing with them in this area (not that they need to though with theatrical success like The Avengers). However this movie shows just how capable Marvel is of producing animated features as well!

Our movie opens in 1945 during World War II as we see Steve Rogers AKA Captain America on a mission to take out a Nazi super-weapon before it is used in retaliation for Hitler's demise. In keeping with the mythos he succeeds, but falls into the ocean and is deep frozen. Six decades later he is found by a team lead by General Nick Fury and Professor Betty Ross who along with Dr. Bruce Banner have re-instated the the Super Soldier program to combat a shape-shifting threat known as the Chitauri. Thinking him to be dead, they take his body back to their base for experments only for him to awaken. Realizing though that it will take too long for the serum to be ready, General Fury is forced to put together a team of heroes consisting of Captain America, The Wasp, Giant-Man, The Black Widow, and Iron-Man to combat this threat before the planet is doomed.

Actually....I have no nitpicks. I'm not really a fan of the Ultimate Universe and therefore have not read Mark Millar's Ultimates series in which this movie is based on. The only thing I thing that I take issue with that has no bearing the film's credibility is the title. If its based almost purely on the Ultimates then why bother including the Avengers title?


Plot Analysis
 To its core this movie is Captain America's origin, and return to action as well as the first major story arc of the Ultimates, and for the most part it does that job well, Cap is very likable and you genuinely feel his pain in out-living his loved ones, and being thrust into a drastically changed world. However most of the flaws in this movie come from the other characters. The other big name characters in this move are either downright jerks or incredibly and irritatingly stupid.

1. Dr. Hank Pym AKA Giant Man
Dear lord I HATE THIS GUY! His entire purpose in the movie is to whine, complain, and talk about how awesome he is, despite not doing really anything other than screw up, or getting knocked on his backside. His entire motivation for being like this is also half-explained as being fired from SHIELD or something. Whatever it is, its weak and this guy is a douche just for the sake of being a douche.

2. Janet Van Dyne AKA Wasp
Like her husband the only point of her existence in this movie is to be incredibly annoying and get smacked around in the climax, but unlike her husband she actually feels remorse for her stupidity. However it is because of her that Giant-Man gets kept around to annoy us even more.

3. Tony Stark AKA Iron Man
Basically playing out his usual hard-to-work-with snarky personality thats he is infamous for in comics and movies. However in this adaptation he lacks any form of competancy and finds himself KOed most of the time.

4. Thor
Basically all Thor does is decline Fury's invitation to the Ultimates, and then show up at the last minute to battle the Hulk and of course gets completly owned like he does in the comics whenever they fight.

Basically the only characters with any semblance of intelligence to them are Captain America, The Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Betty Ross. Despite Bruce Banner also acting incredibly stupid, it makes since that he would selfishly try to cure himself and make the situation much worse given his desperation, so he is really not acting out of character. Even if once again the Hulk is able to destroy Vibranium and resist ANY FRIGGIN FORM OF ATTACK no matter how advanced or what its supposed to do (he resists disintegration beams!).   The plot itself isn't bad, in fact its pretty good, but its the characters that really drag it down as many of them feel unnecesary other than to screw things up, or to get smacked around by the Hulk at the end.

*End Spoilers*

Art Direction
The visuals are great, with the exception of a few wonky CGI sections the animation is great, in fact the entire movie feels like a comic book in motion with its colorful art-style. The fight scenes are epic and show off what each character can do with Cap throwing his shield, doing acrobatics, and punching things, Iron Man blasting away with his weaponry, The Wasp zipping around firing her bio-electric blasts, etc.

The voice-acting though is rather hit or miss, some characters like Cap, Bruce Banner, and The Black Widow are all decently voiced. As much as I hate to admit it, Bruce Banner's voice work is probably the best as he perfectly conveys how tormented Bruce really is through his heavily medicated state. Cap's voice sounds a little bit higher than I expected but it is still a voice befitting the leader of the Avengers/Ultimates, and I love how he is shown leaping in front of projectiles and taking shots for his fellow teammates like he does frequently in the comics. Voice work is overall above average, but there are one or two bad eggs in the bunch. The worst being the VA for Iron Man, his Tony Stark voice is decent, but with the filter on his voice it makes Iron Man sound wayyy too gravely and gruff as opposed to sounding like Tony Stark with a metallic ring to it. In short, good overall cast with a few weak links.

If Marvel made more movies (fixing the flaws of course) like this they would certainly rival DC's animated features. I certainly enjoyed it and I'm not even a fan of the Ultimate Universe. It has a great story with some fun superhero moments and great animation. If you love Marvel's superheroes then definitely give it a watch!


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