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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ultimate Avengers 2
Ultimate Avengers 2
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // PG-13 // August 8, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Marvel has started to release a line of direct to DVD animated movies based on their comic line.  The first one was Unlimited Avengers.  I reviewed that title when it was first released and thought it was pretty slow with mediocre animation.  Now the second Marvel DVD has been released, Ultimate Avengers 2 and I was disappointed to discover that this one wasn't much better than the first.

The aliens from the first Ultimate Avengers disc are back, and this time they've brought the reenforcements.  Herr Kleiser, the alien that was responsible for Cap being trapped in suspended animation for 60 years, is still alive and has set his sights on the African kingdom of Wakanda.  A meteor with amazing powers landed there ages ago, and the aliens want it for their own.  After Kleiser kills the king, his son and new ruler travels to America to enlist the help of the Avengers.  It  isn't any young king who calls on the heros however, it is T'Challa, the Black Panther.

Nick Fury doesn't want to formally send the Avengers to another county, so he has them investigate it quietly which they are really up to doing.  The Wakandas soon discover them and armed with spears and arrows manage to fend off 'the world's mightiest mortals.'  Because he invited the outsiders to their kingdom, T'Challa is stripped of his crown.  When things can't look any blacker, the aliens attack.

The creators in Marvel's animation department could really benifit from watching some DC cartoons.  Teen Titans, The Adventures of Batman, and Justice League Unlimited all manage to avoid the errors that the two Ultimate Avengers movies made.  The pacing is really poor.  Nothing really happens for the first half, and then the action is limited and rather ludicrous in many respects.  (Giant Man's idea of fighting is to stand still and let a lot of soldiers shoot him with arrows??)  This movie only picks up in the last twenty minutes, and then it's a case of too little too late.

Wait, you say, they're using the first section of the show to develop the characters and show us what these heros are like behind the mask.  Yes, that is true, the problem is that none of these people are likeable.  Henry Pym is an egotistical, often irrational jerk who treats his wife like crap.  Janet, in turn takes it like a beaten wife rather than the research scientist that she's supposed to be.  Steve Rogers has a death wish, and Bruce Banner is a whiney mouse.  None of these people seem heroic or noble.  Is that realistic? Sure, but that's not the reason that kids have been reading comics for decades.  They want excitement, adventure, and heroics.  Something that the first 45 minutes if this hour and 10 minute show doesn't provide.

Like the first movie, there are a lot of things that pulled me out of the viewing experience and made me say "wait a minute."  Captain America throws his shield through the engine block of a truck without it slowing down and the Black Widow can fire a pair of pistols as fast as a machine gun and never runs out of ammo, just to name two.  Even my 10 year old son laughed when Iron Man was taken out of a battle by....a log.  Many people won't be bothered by these, which is fine, but the accumulation of these improbable events made it hard for me to enjoy the show.

Unfortunately, the animation hasn't improved any with this release.  The animation is pretty crude overall.  Everyone has stiff movements and whenever someone walks across a room it's a bit jerky.  A lot of movements look unreal too, such as when Tony Stark puts his backpack back on while climbing a mountain.  He picks it up, slings it over one shoulder, and then the backpack's other shoulder strap moves by itself and miraculously flies over his other arm.  Okay....  The proportions of people are often off too.  Note Giant Man's long torso in the screen capture above.  They put more money into the action scenes, but even these weren't very impressive.  The backgrounds have little detail and even less movement and this makes the whole production look bad.
 
A note to parents: There is no nudity or sexual inuendo in this movie, but there is a lot of violence.  People have knives rammed through their chests, a man is choked to death, and many aliens have their arms and legs ripped off.  This is rated PG-13 for those reasons.

The DVD:


Audio:

This movie comes with both English and Spanish soundtracks, both in 5.1.  The English track sounded good with the explosions really surrounding the viewer and giving the subwoofer a good workout.  Unfortunately when there wasn't a battle going on, the soundtrack collapsed to basically a two channel mix.  The quality was very good, with the dialog coming through nice and clean and audio defects being absent.

Video:

The anamorphic widescreen image looked fine.  The colors were solid and bright, and the lines were sharp.  Aliasing, a digital defect that plagues animation, was absent, as were other compression artifacts.  A good looking disc.

Extras:

Like the first disc, this one comes with a good amount of bonus material.  The extras section starts out with The Ultimates, a 23-minute featurette that features interviews with Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, the creative team behind the Ultimates comic, where they talk about the philosophy behind the Ultimate line and what they wanted to do with the comic.

The best bonus item is The Ultimate Gag Reel is a three minute, well, gag reel.  This was really funny, and I especially liked the running gag about Tony Stark's House of Ribs.  I also enjoyed the two First Look featurettes showing a peek at upcoming DVDs featuring Iron Man and Dr. Strange (3 and 2 minutes respectively).  I'm a big Iron Man fan, but I thought that the Dr. Strange movie looked to be the better of the two.

There is also a Which Avenger Are You? game that is playable on a computer equipped with a DVD-ROM drive.  After answering a series of questions players are given the Avenger they resemble the most.
 
Final Thoughts:

While I am a comic fan from way back and really enjoy these characters, I didn't think Ultimate Avengers 2 was nearly as good as it should have been.  Unlike the animated shows based on DC characters, this movie starts of really slow and doesn't pick up until the end.  The characters are fairly unlikeable and some of the plot elements are pretty ludicrous.  Still, it was fun to see the few action scenes, and those alone make this worth a rental.
 

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