Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 is the latest animated project based on the venerable Hot Wheels toy brand. The computer-animated series, which airs Saturday mornings on Cartoon Network, makes its way to DVD with the first volume of episodes from its inaugural season. It's a light, fun action series that will delight kids and probably sell toys. Adults looking for more depth should probably look elsewhere.
The Battle Force 5 are a group of heroes tasked with keeping the Earth safe from animal baddies The Vandals and robotic baddies The Sark. The team is recruited by Sage, the last of the powerful Sentient race. Her people created many alternate universes known as battle zones. The battle zones connect with Earth via strange tornadoes called stormshocks. The team must retrieve each battle zone's key in order to keep the bad guys from using the battle zones as a gateway to Earth.
The team is led by Vert Wheeler, the first person to stumble upon a stormshock and rescue Sage from the Vandals. The other members include brothers Sherman and Spinner, youngest member Zoom, lone female member Agura , and Stanford from England. There may be six heroes but there are only five vehicles as the brothers share one.
The show has a cool CG look courtesy of Nerd Corps Entertainment, the Canadian animation studio behind Dragon Booster and Storm Hawks. The animation is pretty good for the most part but it especially pops during the action sequences.
The various battle zones are also major parts of the show's visual appeal. You can tell the creators had fun coming up with the various universes from a ruined city and the inside of a living creature to a gigantic junkyard/incinerator and a world made of crystal.
The value you get out of Hot Wheels Battle Force 5's story will largely depend on your expectations going into the show. Those expecting a show that works on multiple levels for kids and adults will be sorely disappointed. The plots are pretty straightforward and contain some positive messages. The dialogue and humor are a little cheesy at times.
Those expecting something truly awful will be pleasantly surprised. The voice acting is generally good and the show does try to develop the characters a bit. It's easy to get caught up in the thrills the show delivers. Things never get boring, which is more than can be said for some other cartoons.
The DVD contains the first six episodes of the series presented (somewhat surprisingly) in anamorphic widescreen. The video quality is good and the show looks about as nice as you could hope. There are no real extras to speak of. The “trailers” on the disc are really just commercials for the Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 toys and video game. The DVD also comes with a booklet containing the 2010 collector's catalog for the toy line.
Overall, Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 is a fun action series that should delight kids and perhaps make them want the cool toys. It's not up to the level of the superhero shows that DC and Marvel have put out as of late. However, it's not terrible either with nice designs, cool action sequences, and good voice work.
The DVD is a no-brainer for fans of the series with over two hours of episodes for a decent price. For those thinking about checking out the series, your best bet would be to watch it online at Cartoon Network's website or the Battle Force 5 website before you buy.