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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (Blu-ray + DVD-Video) + The Invincible Iron Man (Blu-ray/Lionsgate)

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (Blu-ray + DVD-Video) + The Invincible Iron Man (Blu-ray/Lionsgate)

 

Picture: B+/B-/B+     Sound: B+/B-/B+     Extras: C+/C     Film: B-/C

 

 

Marvel’s new releases of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and The Invincible Iron Man take two completely different superhero angles, but each have their own uniqueness and respectable merits; though neither film lived up to expectations.

 

The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow starts as an android named Ultron overtakes and destroys the entirety of the ultimate Avengers team.  Tony Stark makes it his duty to collect and save the Avengers’ children; hiding them safely away from the tyrannical, murderous, maniac that has made it his sole mission to pluck the Superhero elite from the earth.  Stark conceals the children in a secret Artic hideaway for years, training and refining their abilities as Ultron overtakes the world; but as the years progress the children find that their abilities are much more then they ever imagined.  There is James (son of Captain America and Black Widow), Pym (son of Giant Man and Wasp), Torunn (daughter of Thor), and Azari (son of Black Panther and X-Men’s Storm). 

 

The children’s secret location is accidentally revealed when Tony Stark is captured and the young heroes set out to save their fallen mentor and themselves.  Knowing that they can’t fight off the powerful Ultron alone the younglings take it upon themselves to recruit some of the fallen heroes from the original massacre to help their cause.  The “Next Avengers” find Hawkeye’s son, a reluctant Bruce Banner, a banged up Vision, and elderly Betty Ross to join their team.  The team is young and inexperienced, but the Next Avengers just may prove that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree as they have the battle of a lifetime when they fight for what they believe in and try to save the world.

 

The story behind Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is gripping and exciting, but has some shortcomings at the same time.  This reviewer has more of an open mind about the combination of superheroes and children’s animation than most, so the leap to the Next Avengers wasn’t too difficult; but the film is still not a perfect transition or blend.  The film is most definitely geared toward the “family friendly” and children’s market, rather than the darker route that many comic series have become over the years.  Each character is brilliantly developed without being too childish or full of that odd brand of “teenage angst” that many young superhero endeavors have embodied.  Instead it is the convergence of all the elements of the film that make it seem a little “too poppy” for its own good; as it does not deliver the full depth and development that a superhero film should.  The film does get a tad darker as time goes by, but all in all they are still kids and the feature kid-centric if nothing else.  This reviewer can see the characters developing into something bigger and better in the future, but for now even with the heart and souls of heroes they still lack the muscle.

 

The Invincible Iron Man (unlike the amazing Jon Favreau film) makes all the wrong choices up front by making the animated feature over inundated with tedious plot lines, tangential ideas, and an underlying clumsiness that left the film devoid of any true plot or character.  Marc Worden voices Iron Man as the feature opens with Tony Stark Industries working at the site of Ancient Chinese Ruins that, unbeknownst to Stark, will hold the remains and could release the powerfully evil being, Mandarin, into this world.  Of course, the evil being was once a murderous warrior who conquered many lands and if released will set out to do the same in this new, modern world.  A secret organization named the Jade Dragons kidnaps Stark’s friend and kills some others.  Stark sets out to investigate the odd and tragic events, but is in turn captured himself.  Stark makes himself a suit of armor to battle some uneasy spirits that intend to resurrect the bloodthirsty Mandarin; which Stark can not simply allow.  We can stop here…

 

The new animated feature completely dismantles the established Iron Man Universe and reassembles it into a boring and uninspiring mess.  Not only is Tony Stark portrayed as a drab, unusual corporate-naut; the character of Mandarin and the Jade Dragons are nothing like how the comics portrayed them.  All in all the bastardized Tony Stark/Iron Man story that is on this feature should be dismissed by fan boys and simple on-lookers as a failed attempt to bring the classic Marvel Universe to life in animated form.  Between incoherent plots and poor character development The Invincible Iron Man does not amount to the superhero film it was meant to be; just stick to the Robert Downey Jr. Film…seriously.

 

The technical features on both the heroic Blu-ray releases are extremely pristine as far as picture and sound, though the bonus features need work.  The picture on both Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and The Invincible Iron Man Blu-rays are presented in a 1080p/AVC-encoded 16 X 9 Widescreen that contains vibrant colors, solid/bold blacks, and a sharp image that makes for a more than pleasurable viewing experience.  Marvel’s animated features tend to have a series of animation quality issues, as compared to Warner Bros/DC’s releases, but these two releases seem to be some of the best work Marvel has recently accomplished.  The sound quality on both features are on par with the image as in its DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround Sound Tracks the films boom with smooth dialogue, boastfully explosive action sequences, and a solid directionality that is seamless as the on screen events pan from one speaker to the next.  While other studios don’t give even the biggest blockbusters the star treatment as far as audio and visual features on Blu-ray, Lionsgate holds strong by treating even the most minuscule releases with the utmost quality care.

 

The DVD edition of the Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is nice, but does not have the same excellent picture and sound presentation as the Blu-ray version.  The 1.78 X 1 anamorphic widescreen presentation has good colors and solid blacks, but overall does not have quite the same color vibrancy or crispness that is contained on the Blu-ray.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is nowhere near as full or expansive as the Blu-ray DTS presentation, but is adequate for a DVD and gets the job done.

 

Whereas the picture and sound quality are excellent on both the Blu-ray release discussed above, the extra features leave more to be desired.  On Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow the extras on both the DVD and Blu-ray releases are the same and include a couple somewhat interesting “making of” featurettes and several trailers for future releases.  The featurettes are nicely presented (in HD) and do throw some compelling factoids at the viewer, but overall the short 11 minute and 10 minute “behind the scenes” featurettes are not very good and leaves something to be desired.  Writers, directors, and artists all show up to put their two cents in on the new release and the future of the franchise, but this reviewer viewed the featurettes as more of promotional stunts than solid extra features.

 

Extra Features Include:

 

Legacy: The Making of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow

Kid Power: Next Gen Marvel

First Look at Hulk vs. Wolverine

First Look at Hulk vs. Thor

Trailer Gallery

 

The Invincible Iron Man’s extra features are the same as those found on the 2007 DVD release, right down to the (sadly) standard definition presentation [except on the “First Looks”].  The Invincible Iron Man special features can be summated as sparse and uninteresting.  Features include a short and blasé “behind-the-scenes” look at the origin of Iron Man, an alternate opening that is composed of a very rough Animatic that was better left out, some concept art and story boards (blah!), a look at all the different Iron Man suits from over the years, and a couple of future release “first looks.”  Overall, the extras were weak and did not hold a rewatchable quality in the slightest.

 

Extra Features Include:

 

Alternate Opening Sequence

The Origin of Iron Man Featurette

The Hall of Iron Man Armor

Iron Man Concept Art

First Look Hulk vs. Wolverine

First Look Hulk vs. Thor

A Look at Doctor Strange

Trailer Gallery

 

 

The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and The Invincible Iron Man are comparable as far as technical features on Blu-ray, but the features stories evolve quite differently; giving Next Avengers the edge as far as family friendly/kiddies’ market, but Iron Man more so portrays the classic Marvel Superheroes that audiences want to see, but did it in all the wrong ways.  Comic fan boys will not be clambering to see Next Avengers anytime soon, but the straight to video film is a good way to introduce children to Superheroes at an early age, without getting too excessive with the fighting or violence.  Iron Man was an excellent visual and audio experience…too bad it made my eyes burn and ears bleed to even listen or watch the horrible plot.

 

 

For more on The Invincible Iron Man, try this link to our previous DVD coverage:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/5151/The+Invincible+Iron+Man+(Animated

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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