Review: Ultimate Avengers

June 24, 2006 at 8:11 PM (Movies)

Just finished watching the direct-to-DVD release Ultimate Avengers.  This is an animated feature, based on the Marvel Comics series The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch.  I haven’t read this particular series, but I hear it’s a more mature-audience oriented take on The Avengers (Marvel’s answer to DC Comics’ Justice League).  Apart from Spider-Man and X-Men I am not a fan of the other Marvel Comics characters, so I have read few issues/titles featuring them.

There have been a number of very good animated features based on the DC Comics characters (I thought Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was very good, and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was fantastic) but this is the first one from Marvel Comics.  While the DC animated titles are released by Warner Bros., this one is from Lions Gate Films.

The movie begins with an exciting intro set in 1945 at the close of WWII.  Captain America/Steve Rogers is a supersoldier created by an advanced defense program, and in this mission, he foils an attempt by the Nazis to launch a nuclear weapon (which they have built with help from some aliens) into Washington, D.C.  When he blows up the weapon in midair before it can do any damage, he falls from the sky into the ocean.

Some 60 years later his body is found deep in the waters in a frozen state, and thawed out by S.H.I.E.L.D., headed by Nick Fury.  Fury assembles a team of superheroes (including Iron Man/Tony Stark, Giant Man/Hank Pym, Wasp/Janet Pym, Thor, Black Widow/Natalya Romanov) in order to fight the alien menace.  Will "Avenger" be able to save the world?

At a runtime of 71 minutes, this a very fast-paced movie.  In fact, it almost seemed a bit rushed at times — I thought that a more relaxed pace would have increased the dramatic impact of the film.  The alien menace seemed at times to take a back-seat to the engaging character dynamics here (conflict between the superheroes, Cap finding himself in a world where everything is vastly different from the 40s, Dr. Bruce Banner keeping the "Hulk" in control).  The story is also pretty linear.  But anyway, the action scenes and the character interplay made up for the other weaknesses of the movie.

The action scenes are exciting, and I especially appreciated the final battle for its intensity.  The film has a PG-13 rating for the violence, and while the tone of the film is not as serious or edgy as Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, it still makes for some entertaining watching.  The quality of animation here is pretty decent.

Rating: 7/10


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