Ultimate AvengersTowards the end of World War II, America’s greatest hero in the form of the US super soldier Captain America was lost at sea as he battled to prevent a Nazi nuclear missile launch – but only after he had discovered that the real threat was in fact not the Nazis…

…but rather an alien life form that we now call the Chitauri!

Present day and the body of Captain America has finally been located, seemingly alive and in a cryogenically frozen state. S.H.I.E.L.D director General Nick Fury needs this living legend up and running as soon as possible as the scramble is on to set up a meta human task force (Project Avenger) in order to deal with the rising threat of the Chitauri aliens who are now coming out of their long dormant state and threatening the world as we know it.

Nick Fury is targeting Iron Man, Giant-Man, Wasp, Thor and the Black Widow to form part of the team under Captain America’s leadership, but assembling this kind of super-powered team is certainly easier said than done. And then of course there is the ever present threat of the dormant savage Hulk lurking within the obsessed scientist Bruce Banner – who happens to be leading the team in charge of resurrecting Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum project!

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie is a 2006 direct-to-DVD animated film based on the Marvel comic book The Ultimates and is directed by Curt Geda, Steven E. Gordon and Bob Richardson. It is produced and distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment and Marvel Studios.

Ultimate Avengers assumes that you at least have a little bit of knowledge when it comes to Marvel characters and pretty much jumps straight into the story without hashing character origins too much. Of course, familiarity with the normal Marvel universe isn’t paramount, as The Ultimates pretty much rebooted the original character origins anyway, and you would be better off being familiar with that comic run so as not to be to annoyed at the ‘different’ way in which some of your favourite characters may be depicted.

The story isn’t too complex and pretty much follows three separate storylines, namely Captain America waking up and finding himself in a completely foreign time, the battle against the powerful Chitauri aliens and Bruce Banner’s losing battle with sanity as the Hulk remains trapped within him. Of course, the Avengers being about a team dynamic means that story attention pretty much has to be spread over everyone, and this does take away any depth that you might liked to have seen with regards to any one particular character – with the exception perhaps of Captain America and Bruce Banner as they admittedly do manage to steal a large chunk of the screen time in the end.

The story is pretty formulaic, straightforward and ends off on a nice action high, so youngsters should get a good bit of enjoyment out of the movie as a whole, though it should be noted that it doesn’t follow the usual norm of cartoon violence – bystanders do actually die for a change and not everyone gets saved at the last minute.

Visually, the animation and backgrounds aren’t quite as nicely detailed as one would have hoped for considering this is Marvel and Lions Gate production, but it is solid and smooth and manages to be pretty easy on the eye in the end. Colouring feels a little dull in places, but this is easily explained away as most sequences tend to take place at night anyway. I guess that one could sum up the visuals on Ultimate Avengers as being pretty much standard American cartoon fare.

This being an direct-to-DVD production means that no big name actors or actresses were brought in for the voice acting duties, but the production staff have made sure to include a lot of established voice actors from the industry with the result that Ultimate Avengers ends up sounding pretty good – even the goofy sounding Thor!

British composer Guy Michelmore is the current favourite for Marvel’s animated releases, and produces a pretty good sounding score for this movie that manages to convey that feel good heroic tone that is so essential for these types of super hero movies in the first place.

In summary, Ultimate Avengers: The Movie is a solid, action-packed and enjoyable movie for fans of the Marvel universe but doesn’t try and do anything special and ends up feeling pretty much ordinary. Your kids may pull a bit of entertainment value from it, but don’t expect it to sit on the top of anyone’s DVD pile just yet.

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Related link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0491703/