Ultimate Avengers2Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther is yet another release in the ever-increasing Marvel/Lionsgate animated movie stable and this time it is a direct follow-on sequel to their 2006 Ultimate Avengers: The Movie release. Like last time the screenplay is once again handled by Greg Johnson, but directorship however falls to newcomer Will Meugniot, a man better known for his comic book work than anything else.

The story continues where the first movie left off, but this time the focus is shifted to the African kingdom of Wakanda, famed for its technical prowess as well as vibranium ore resource. However, things are not quite right in his usually peaceful home as T’Challa, Prince of Wakanda, soon finds out on his return from the outside world. The alien Chitauari menace, led by the shape-shifting Herr Kleiser, are after the nation’s vibranium and will stop at nothing to get it.

Even the legendary protector Black Panther’s might is not enough to resist them and soon T’Challa realises that in order to survive, Wakanda must summon reinforcements from the West – a job that the revenge-seeking Captain American and the rest of the Avengers are more than willing to accept!

It’s interesting that it was decided to move forth by continuing directly on from the last outing’s story because it means that all the baggage from the first movie essentially travels through to this one from the get go. We’ve still got the Avengers who don’t quite seem to fight like a unit just yet (though they are much better at it this time around) and all the cringing and whining amongst the principal characters continues unabated, though at least this time no space has to be wasted in introducing the enemy and the story simply jumps straight into the action-packed business of putting the alien menace down!

Again, as with any team-based movie, the story jumps in and out of a number of plot threads which do serve to keep everything interesting but unfortunately carries the disadvantage of making the movie feel a little rushed and perhaps a little incomplete as all this jumping around generally leaves a couple or so of threads not fully developed, unanswered, or at least answered rather poorly in the first place. Perhaps this leaves space for another sequel, I don’t know, but it would have been perhaps a little nicer to have a bit of a tighter, more complete story in my opinion.

However, Johnson does manage to pull his story together towards the end and we finish up with a huge slobber-knocker epic event that is sure to please every hot-blooded action-orientated male watching and at the same time give us some pretty exciting fanboy sequences that pulls one right to the edge of their seat. There is intrigue, drama, romance, action and even sacrifice – seriously, what more could one ask for?

Well perhaps for everything not to feel quite so boring at times I guess – or at least not everything all at once for a change!

Visually Ultimate Avengers retains the fairly detailed but simplistically styled animation that worked so well for it in its first outing and apart from a few enhanced battle sequences and explosions, there isn’t all that much to write home about. That said, the action sequences ARE particularly well handled and there really are some great visual moments to take in. Fight choreography also seems to have been improved and this adds an additional level of enjoyment to the already pretty decent visuals on display, so I am assuming that we can thank Tae-Ho Han who is in charge of cinematography for this one then.

Guy Michelmore returns as the music composer for the series once more and as per usual he comes up with some brilliantly inspiring and epic compositions that fits the story like a glove. Similarly most of the original voice cast return and their familiarity with the characters proves itself as they all provide some sterling voice performances.

Overall, Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther is a worthy addition to the ever-growing Marvel animated features library. It has good, consistent production values that both look and sound good and as a whole it comes across as a finely polished package. The story on the other hand is a little bit too full of different threads for my liking and also unfortunately slows to a bit of a crawl at times, but that said there are some fantastic action sequences that pulls the movie right back up and makes it an enjoyable watch for anyone who calls themselves a Marvel fanboy.

So not bad boys, not bad at all. I’m looking forward to the next installment then…

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Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Avengers_2