Wednesday, March 08, 2006

This is the Ultimate?

I just finished watching Ultimate Avengers, and felt the need to post about it for a couple of reasons :

1) It's a D2DVD movie
2) It's about some of the Marvel icons from my childhood.

Both of these things obviously mean a lot to me. I'm actually quite torn about it because in looking at the credits - I've seen the work of the people involved with this movie before.

I've also seen better work from them.

This is the launch of a series of animated D2DVD movies that Lionsgate and Marvel are doing together. They are designed to capitalize on both the Marvel brand and the huge market for D2DVD animated movies. In theory this movie should be a home run, especially since its based on the wildly successful The Ultimates comic book.

And yet, we get this movie that shows so many worn edges and, dare I say it, lack of craft that it really disappoints. Truly.

1. The story - is lackluster at best with no momentum and a definite lack of drama. Its clear from the comics that the first arc of the story is Captain America's return to the world after being trapped in an ice floe for 60+ years. Yet, the story in this 70 minute movie meanders and loses focus. It was soooo slow! The drama that is present in the story is reduced to melodrama (mostly the Bruce Banner/Hulk stuff).

2. The animation - was poor and didn't take advantage of the strengths of the medium. Movement was choppy and off model. It looked cheap and frankly, I was reminded of the old Gantray-Lawrence animation from the 60's.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say - Marvel needs to do better. Much better. Take a lesson from Warner Bros.' The Batman vs. Dracula and craft a story and animation that really pushes the medium forward. Hire better designers and storyboard artists that give your characters the momentum they require to be fully-formed, multi-dimensional characters.
Hire better animation studios in Korea. Take some lessons from anime use that in the process.

Otherwise, Ultimate Avengers will ultimately circle the drain.


DecoderRing said...

Agreed, Bill, it was a little disappointing... though I was pretty jazzed by Captain America's old-timey outfit... gots to get me some goggles like those!

I'm curious now about The Batman vs Dracula... I'd seen it around, but haven't been very thrilled with the television show... hard to follow B.T.A.S., especially when the sole concept for the new program seems to be re-inventing all of Bats' villains as hyperactive freaks with glandular conditions... and I'm still not sure why Bruce Wayne's profile looks so much like Lamont Cranston's... but I'll give it a whirl!

Bill Cunningham said...

Watch the two shows (Avengers, Batman v. Drac) back to back then tell me which is the better show - story-wise, artistically (design, animation, backgrounds), production-wise (editing, sound, fx)...

Avengers cannot hold a candle to Bats.

I also think you can get Bats on sale for $7.99 at Best Buy or obviously rentthe thing.


RogerRmjet said...

Bill, wondering if you could comment (or even do an article) on the current brick-and-morter video store situation. Each time I go to my local Blockbuster, it seems the new titles are mostly D2DVD and fewer studio pics. Maybe as high as 80/20. Older content is mostly studio pics.

This is great news for D2DVD, but as you know, Blockbuster, Movie Galler, et al, are having tough times and losing a lot of ground to NetFlix. Just guessing here, but my guess is that D2DVD is more suited for the Blockbuster sales model than the NetFlix model. D2DVD covers, like the old pulps, are designed to grab your attention from the shelf as you pass them. With the NetFlix model, I think that would cater more to recognizable titles (e.g., studio).

How much of the D2DVD market is brick-and-morter video stores? Suppose these stores eventually go out of business? What are your thoughts?

Am I way off on NetFlix? I don't use them because I like being able to rent individual titles without having yet another subscription (after cable, Internet, TiVo, cell phone, etc.), though I will admit that their new $5.00 plan they're testing sounds appealing...

DecoderRing said...

.... Okay, I give... you're totaly right. I'm only wishing I had bought The Batman vs. Dracula instead of rented. I'm still not absolutley in love with all of the choices from the new "The Batman" animated franchise, and I do still miss Kevin Conroy as the voice of Bats... But those little quibbles were more than compensated for by a really good story, and a much more slick presentation than Ultimate Avengers

Bill Cunningham said...

Now if they could only animate The Adventures of the Red Panda...

I'm glad you liked Bats and I hope you'll spread the word. My understanding is that more DVD Premiere movies from Warners are on the way - not just starring Bats mind you, but other characters in the pantheon as well.

DecoderRing said...


I'm honored. Baffled and slightly flabbergasted, but honored... three cheers for the interweb! Oh, man, now i'm having the Red Panda Cartoon daydream again....