Written by Fido
First off, this write-up is coming from a 40-year old guy who grew up on 2-D animation as the choice du jour. So, even though I like some 3-D computer animated shows, this one, Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5, just didn’t do it for me in the slightest. Let’s hit onto the obvious stuff before the high and mighty artistic rant to follow.
It’s a show about a team of racing kids (politically cobbled together: Asian kid into martial arts, an English kid into music and partying, a couple of brothers – one panicky and funny-ish and the other a jock, a sassy African-American chick and the team leader, Vert Wheeler, a Southern California-esque teen with a nose for speed and immense amount of hair-styling products) getting pulled into the Multiverse in a battle for Battle Keys – and subsequently the fate of Earth. They race through portals to find all the keys in order to save the Earth from the impending invasion of the Vandals (a far too Masters of the Universe feeling lot, with people bodies and animal heads) and the Sark (yes, the same name as the bad guy from Tron - and yes again, they drive cars that look eerily similar to light cycles). If one or both of those two groups get the keys first, they’ll have the power to open portals and invade Earth – somehow taking it over Battlefield Earth style with only a handful of baddies to handle the whole planet.
Anyhoo – each episode unfolds with the kids getting called into Battle Zones by Sage (yet again, another very Tron-ish looking character who even goes as far to transform into a Bit – and for people who know the movie, you understand) and trying to get the key before the aforementioned bad guys.
So there’s the plot, easy and simple to follow. Great for kids, nothing crazy complicated.
The action sequences, which this whole show is built around, come replete with a shaky-cam effect that is sure to induce some kind of nausea from all age groups and a directorial style similar to the dreaded Transformers movies. It’s a questionable but understandable move (I guess) considering the amount of money they made off of those movies with the same demographic probably watching these. But damn, it still is just aggravating to never get a clear vision of an action sequence. Those quaky camera moves throughout action cuts and jagged storytelling in those same scenes makes what should be the most exciting part of each episode into the most tedious. In fact, to further the Transformers parallel, the cars themselves transform when fighting the beast-headed Vandals and/or the “Space Paranoids”, err, Sark. Sequences are chopped up into barely comprehensible bites all while being way too close to camera to comprehend any kind of scope.