The earth is being invaded by shape-shifting aliens. There’s only one thing to do – call in the Avengers!
The animated movie Ultimate Avengers 2 picks up the tale of a band of government-funded superheroes including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man, and more.
It’s part of a line of Marvel Comics original-to-DVD animated features that aim to be a little more adult than your typical cartoon – characters die and bleed real blood. Screenwriter Greg Johnson, who has years of animation credits including writing for Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Fantastic Four and X-Men: Evolution, wrote the first Ultimate Avengers movie and is also penning upcoming sequels Iron Man and Dr. Strange.
Ultimate Avengers 2 continues what worked well in the first toon –- the in-depth characters, who are flawed and have problems, and some truly impressive cartoon violence. Iron Man’s a troubled wise guy, Thor might be a lunatic, Giant Man’s a big jerk, and as for the Hulk –- well, his issues could fill this entire review. The writing has a less adult edge than the comic -– Giant Man's domestic abuse issues aren't dealt with here –- but it does strive for a bit of depth.
The sequel is a bit better than the first movie –- less time is spent on exposition, and there’s a lot more bombastic action as the Avengers try to thwart the massive alien invasion. The characters are solid, particularly the man-out-of-time Captain America and the young African warrior king, The Black Panther (making his animated debut here).
Unfortunately, the same thing that hampered Ultimate Avengers mars its sequel –- cheap, uninspired animation that feels like it’s from a late 1980s Saturday morning cartoon. I’m not expecting a Pixar-quality movie, but the flat and unexpressive animation doesn’t do justice to an interesting story. It’s a shame Marvel didn’t feel like shelling out for more quality.
Still, Ultimate Avengers is a fun ride for superhero fans. If the animation was better, this series of movies could even rise to the level of greatness.
DVD extras include an excellent 20-minute documentary on "The Ultimates" comic book, a DVD-rom game and previews of the upcoming Iron Man and Dr. Strange animated flicks.