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I consider myself to be a modest comic book geek, I'm hardcore by no means... but I posses a far greater knowledge of these characters than your average Joe. I've been a fan of these characters since I was a child, so the idea of restarting these heroes in the Marvel Comics ‘Ultimates’ books disgusted me. In my mind, the idea stunk to high heaven. Bias aside, I tried my best to approach Ultimate Avengers with an open mind and ultimately (forgive me) I'm glad that I did.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie
Feature
In the not too distant future, an age old race of aliens that were aiding the Nazis in WW2 return to threaten Earth. After they wipe out a space shuttle en route to our planet, Nick Fury, head of world protection agency S.H.I.E.L.D (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division) has to form a team of the world's greatest heroes to stop the alien invaders. They are Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, Ant-Man, and Black Widow, all under the leadership of Captain America. The good Captain until recently had been frozen in a floating chunk of ice—the result of a battle with the Nazis/aliens during WW2.

The real conflict of the movie isn't the aliens at all, but rather putting the team together and keeping them that way. When such powerful heroes are all put in the same room, egos take over and tensions run high. Hardly anyone wants to take orders from anyone else, especially from Captain America. Disastrous results ensue when our heroes deviate from their leader and go solo.

As a side project, Nick Fury has hired Dr. Bruce Banner (formerly the Hulk although now under control through medication) to study the super serum that made Captain America the amazing fighter he is. Thanks to the inept record keepers of 1940 he's had little success. Upon thawing, he collects a sample of Cap's blood and applies the super serum to his own, allowing himself to transform into the Hulk and control himself or so he thinks. It all comes together in the final battle, with all of our heroes fighting alongside each other. The most fun scene of the movie features the Hulk burning through the serum that allowed him to control his rage. Consequently, unable to control himself, the Hulk turns on his fellow Avengers and the battle of battles ensues.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie
I was surprised with the strong story of Ultimate Avengers, heroes having to put aside their differences to become something greater, a team. The music was catchy and appropriate, the cinematography energetic and moving, a new glossy style of animation was employed and the voices were exquisitely cast... so what complaint could I have with this little gem? Only one, at seventy one minutes the movie is tragically short. It felt like an entire act was missing from the film. I would've been more satisfied if they could've made the aliens more prominent in the story. They're such a minor detail here; it would've been nice to have seen more.

It's also worth mention that Ultimate Avengers is the grittiest animated property we've ever seen from Marvel Comics. You might suspect this from the PG-13 rating. The battle scenes get brutal and the violence is edgier. I didn't mind at all as I was growing rather tired of comics being dumbed down for their animated counterparts.

Video
Lions Gate gives us Ultimate Avengers in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen, which seems appropriate for a DTV animated movie. ‘Full screen’ (1.33:1) wouldn't have been a big enough picture to handle these large scale battles. The flick is animated by hand and extremely well polished with digital editing. The picture is crisp, sharp, and the colours are vivid. Since we're talking a digitally rendered product that's probably never seen nor will see celluloid—there's not a blemish or scratch to be found. Conclude from my compliments that Ultimate Avengers looks good.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie
Audio
I didn't hear much out of the 5.1 Dolby Digital track until the end when the final battle was upon our heroes. I wish this track had been used for atmosphere during some of the outdoor scenes that weren't laden with explosions. When things get loud, the track sounds good but ultimately is a waste. This movie had a great score going for it and it's a shame that it never takes centre stage on any of the channels. If you've seen the film and are wondering what great score I speak of, stick around during the credits. Overall, the sound on this movie leaves something to be desired.

Extras
Ultimate Avengers comes with a handful of features, none of which really tell us anything at all about the making of this movie. What we're given instead is a lot of fun bonus material dealing with the Avengers. The first is a twenty three minute featurette telling us the history of the comic book entitled ‘Avengers Assemble!’ It's both fun and informative, featuring interviews with the book's editors and artists, along with more than a handful of screenshots from over the years. Next up is my favourite, ‘The Ultimate Voice Talent Search’, a five minute collage of fan auditions for the movie. I cannot put down in words how funny some of these fan boys sound trying to be Thor and Nick Fury.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie
In place of commentary, which might provide some insight into the animation process, we're given a trivia track that runs along with the movie. Surprisingly, it's a pretty neat offering of facts that I didn't know. There's a story-boarded sneak peak of Ultimate Avengers II and a gallery of trailers. The preview of the next film shows us that the same aliens that plagued this film will be back for more fun. The remaining trailer is for a film with even less dignity than a DTV animated movie, Elekta.

Upon viewing the Ultimate Avengers teaser trailer, I found that it's a teaser for an entirely different version of the film. Character designs are drastically different as is the style of animation. It is clear that the scenes depicted in the short teaser are nowhere to be found in the final product. Since we're not given a behind the scenes look, we may never know what happened to this alternate cut.

There's a DVD-ROM game called ‘What Avenger Are You?’, but I was unable to play it as anything running Windows is contraband in my place of dwelling. These features are fun, but again, I would've liked features pertaining to the making of the movie. Show us the faces that the voices belong to and show us the animation process.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie
Overall
I was delightfully surprised with Ultimate Avengers. The groundwork for better movies has been laid and there's fantastic potential here. When my only complaint with a feature is that I wanted more, you know they're on the right track. This is a modest disc for a modest flick.


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