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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.7%
Worth A Look: 4.35%
Average: 30.43%
Pretty Bad52.17%
Total Crap: 4.35%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Ultimate Avengers 2
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Marc Kandel

"Second verse, lame as the first. Well… lamer, actually."
2 stars

Possessing none of the primary source material’s complexities (The Ultimates), none of the fun of the original material (The Avengers), none of the visual wonder of either title to truly appeal to die-hard Marvel superhero fans, offering no incentive for people who don’t read comics to engage the product through any appreciation of story or animation (both being unremarkable), and far too brutal for young children with responsible parents, there is quite simply no reason for this movie to exist.

This product smacks of a profit drive to excavate lint and Cheetos encrusted gelt from the pockets of fanboys who will charge at breakneck speed (or as fast as their underdeveloped physiques and heart conditions will allow them) to purchase anything that might, just might allow them to behold their favorite heroes in dignified entertainment that captures through animation or live action the uncompromising satisfaction to be found in the rich, colorful pages of their preferred medium, the comic book. Instead they get Ultimate Avengers II. And they, we (let’s be honest), keep coming back for more, despite knowing better. Marvel is the Lucy to their legions of Charlie Browns, and this ain’t the last of the footballs kids.

The plot(s):
Captain America, resurrected from an icy grave 57 years after World War II still cannot banish the demons of war from his mind. This leads to flashbacks, whining and empty dialogue that reminds us that Captain America cannot banish the demons of war from his mind, in case you missed the flashbacks. Said flashbacks are actually some of the more interesting material, but unfortunately most exist merely to familiarize us with the villain of the piece, and the far more engaging story about a man out of his time wrestling with obsolescence and loneliness is dropped in favor of overwrought dialogue such as “you must work past this!”, or “you are jeopardizing the mission!” Drivel.

In the African nation of Wakanda, Prince T’Challa suddenly finds himself the unwilling ruler of his people after his father, King T’Chaka the Black Panther, is murdered by an inhuman killing machine that resembles the Nazi officer Captain America fought in his final battle in WWII. The Nazi, Herr Kleiser (or as we would say in English, Mister Kleiser- honestly, SS outfit aside do you think they could have thrown us a “Hauptmann” or actual military designation?), is a shape shifting alien who can pull just about any weapon or tool he needs from within his torso, just like animated Harlem Globetrotter “Sweet” Lou Dunbar who could produce any item of necessity from the deep recesses of his afro to aid his fellow Super Globetrotters in moments of adversity.

The resemblance regrettably ends there. Given a choice, I think I would pay considerable sums to simply have the Avengers, Wakandans and Aliens resolve their differences on a basketball court. Instead T’Challa wrestles with the choices leadership brings, comes into his own, and finally emerges as a king and protector worthy of his people. You know, like Lion King. If they had at least left the Black Panther costume alone, I might have dealt. But the revamped outfit is just terrible, there is an added power that longtime fans of the character will loathe, and the technology and appearance of the Wakandans is just plain idiotic, hearkening back to the days when white writers and artists gave us their impressions of African cultures based on white filmmakers’ 1930’s films of what they thought African cultures were like. Establishing tradition and culture set against advanced technology in day to day life is fine. Walking barefoot with flowing robes in a munitions plant? Call it nitpicking if you want, but I bet these guys’ insurance rates are through. the. roof. All those Panther lasers and indestructible tribal shields and they can’t cobble together some sort of closed toe work boot?

Ahem. Back to the various plot points.

Alien forces gather to enslave humanity, borrowing the mother ship from Independence Day, the organic technology from GI Joe The Movie, the leftover pieces of the Tripods from War of the Worlds superglued to Imperial Walkers from Empire, hoping that with enough jump cuts and black paint, no one will notice how miserably unoriginal the whole setup is.

The Avengers, having forgotten their “knowledge is half the battle” lesson about teamwork from the first film, allow their internal dysfunction to hamper their effectiveness on the battlefront as they strive to beat back the invasion, the bulk of which is directed at Wakanda, whose people do not want the help of the superhero team as they are an isolationist nation fearful of foreign powers interfering with their culture, government and way of life. The film has the Wakandans learning that inviting America in to help is a good thing, which in this day and age is a bit hard to swallow, and handled so ineptly that it’s not even entertaining as an ironic statement.

Oh, and the Hulk is in the film somewhere, but damned if I could find him. I was asked to buy the idea that the most powerful, destructive mortal on the face of the earth is being monitored by an old colleague with a grudge who, in the face of all reason, does his best to infuriate, frustrate and torment Bruce Banner, despite explicit orders to keep him placid and sedated. I’ll let you do that quick 2 + 2 equation on how that turns out. Bah.

The truth is, Ultimate Avengers II is not terrible, just forgettable; a soulless product that doesn’t distinguish itself in narrative or craft. It has pretensions of appealing to a more adult audience through character development, moral and ethical situations, yet simplifies these very themes to the point of silliness, while the extreme violence and endless talking head scenes alienate any children who simply want a fun, engaging cartoon. Imagine a GI Joe episode where the weapons actually do hurt people but the puerile dialogue never improves and the animation seems flat and colorless. Actually, imagine the direct to video GI Joe Movie (which still beats Ultimate Avengers in animation quality).

Funny thing is, I still like the GI Joe Movie, outlandish style, various and sundry blasphemies and all, better than this tepid outing. I really felt bad for Cobra Commander when he got mutated into a multi-eyed python for failing in his world conquering endeavors. I mean, despite his tactical ineptitude and penchant for hiring backstabbing mercenaries that couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn, you always knew the guy really tried. Here I could barely stifle a yawn when Giant Man gets riddled with spears by disgruntled African natives after throwing a hissy fit about how he wasn’t appreciated on the team. There is no joy here. No fun. I never thought I’d actually miss the good old days of crabskinned drones chanting Co-bra Lalalalalalalalalalalala!

On the plus side, Iron Man is visually interesting and even likable, and Bruce Banner’s need to contribute to the team and atone for his mistakes comes close to compelling. The rest of the plot is all stuff that’s been done better by the DC Comics’ counterpart to the Avengers, the Justice League, whose first animated pilot episode was a clever and closer homage to War of the Worlds which actually allowed one to care about the characters and events of the show and even managed to make the rather worn concept of alien invasion interesting and threatening, bringing the menace to the nations of the world right at the beginning, overwhelming earths greatest heroes and forcing them to work together to beat back the Earth’s conquerors. In Ultimate Avengers, it’s just an unoriginal wrap up battle a la Independence Day, tacked on to allow for characters to come into their own and either redeem or prove themselves after lots of hand wringing. There are some brutal hand-to-hand encounters, but since I don’t care about anyone, it’s simply violence with no emotional impact to drive the consequences home.

Ultimate Avengers II is a sloppy, watered down mishmash of two product lines stripped of what made each individual effort effective, masquerading as a please-all for adults and kids alike, disappointing each demographic, not even providing the “wow” factor of the first film’s showcase of a reinvigorated Marvel Universe action cartoon which was reasonably effective and engaging.

For shame Marvel. For shame fan boys (myself included), for perpetrating mediocrity through rentals and purchases of this recycled piffle. In an age of two good Spidey and X-films, we should demand better. With Marvel, its two steps forward, two steps back. Help me Obi Sam KenRami- you are my only hope.

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originally posted: 09/07/06 04:37:20
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User Comments

8/06/09 Trent G. It hurt to watch! Pointless... 1 stars
9/09/06 michael first one was better but still worth seeing 4 stars
9/03/06 Crash Dummie Awesome! 5 stars
8/15/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen How many films will it take to be as captivating as animated Batman?? 3 stars
8/08/06 Tara H. This movie is awesome. 5 stars
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  N/A (PG-13)
  DVD: 08-Aug-2006



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