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Category:    Home > Reviews > Super Hero > Animation > Ultimate Avengers (Animation/Marvel Comics)

Ultimate Avengers (Animated/Marvel Comics)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: A     Film: B



Ultimate Avengers (2006) represents Marvel Comics’ first serious foray into the animated full-length feature realm.  Born from Marvel’s more mature, adult-oriented Avengers title simply called The Ultimates, Ultimate Avengers both succeeds and fails in its drive to entertain the broadest audience possible.  The task of adapting Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s edgy, modern take on one of Marvel’s classic titles fell to writer Greg Johnson.  After watching the results fans of The Ultimates comic will tell you that Ultimate Avengers is not The Ultimates; it simply isn’t nasty enough.


One need look no further than the animated feature’s take on Captain America to elucidate the differences between it and its comic parent.  In The Ultimates, Captain America is soldier, following orders and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.  Some of his behavior borders on the fascist, including kicking a fallen Bruce Banner in the face after he’d transformed back from being a rampaging Hulk. In the film Captain America is more of the “stranger in a strange land” time traveler originally portrayed in his first modern Marvel appearance way back in the 1963 comic book Avengers #4.  This Cap is gentler, and less self-assured leader of the team.  There are other instances where the film diverges from its source material, but this perhaps the most critical point.


Does this make Ultimate Avengers a bad film?  Not at all.  It’s just not The Ultimates.  The animation shows significant advances from Marvel’s past forays into Saturday morning cartoons, but still lacks the slickness of productions like Ghost in the Shell or Carried Away.  The transfer is a bit soft in spots, and this does highlight some of the softness of the animation.  However the overall package is yeoman work and manages to help tell a compelling story.  A host of veteran voice actors provide excellent performances for the film.  Andre Ware is especially good in the role of Nick Fury.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is solid, with a good range of colors, if slightly muted throughout.  This is as clean and clear as it could possibly be in the DVD format.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound fills the bill on this straight to video package, but one wonders how it might perform on higher end systems with it limits or why it is not here in DTS considering its shorter length.


This DVD package is loaded with extras, including a featurette on the history of The Avengers, a look into the search for the film’s voice talent, a trivia game, a preview of the sequel (see below).  The quality and variety of extras on this disc puts that of many feature films to shame.


Ultimate Avengers fills a much needed niche as a serious, adult-oriented superhero action drama, and although it does not share all of the genius and nasty attitude of The Ultimates comic book, fans will be happy to learn that the sequel is already slated for an August 2006 release.



-   Scott R. Pyle


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