Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow
R1 - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (1st October 2008).
The Film

In this animated feature from Marvel and Lionsgate, the evil space robot Ultron (Tom Kane) has conquered humanity and has killed off most of the Avengers. Thor (Michael Adamthwaite) has abandoned humanity and returned to Asgard, while Iron Man (Tony Stark, also voiced by Tom Kane) has survived, and the robotic Vision (Shawn MacDonald) has apparently been allowed to remain in Ultron's realm. Hawkeye is missing in action.

Before their slaughter, several of the Avengers had children, and these kids are now in Stark's care. James (Noah Crawford) the son of Captain America and Black Widow, Pym (Aidan Drummond), the son of Giant Man and The Wasp, Torunn (Brenna O'Brien), the daughter of Thor, and Azari (Dempsey Pappion), the son of Black Panther and his princess, are sequestered in a secret fortress, hidden within a rather idyllic grotto in an unidentified land. They later meet Barton (Adrian Petrew), the son of Hawkeye and his super-wife (she is unidentified in the production, and I am not quite enough of a Marveliste to know). Unbeknownst to the frivolous if spunky kids, Tony Stark is building a team of robotic warriors that resemble the fallen Avengers, in order to eventually take down Ultron.

When Vision shows up damaged but with news of Ultron's latest maneuvers, Stark becomes preoccupied repairing his old robotic pal. The kids stumble upon the mechanical effigies of their deceased parents (yeah, lots of robots in this one), and end up prematurely launching them on an offensive mission against Ultron. Things escalate; fighting and running and explosions happen.

Fans of alternate takes on the Marvel universe ought to enjoy this cartoon; it is always fascinating for Marvel geeks to see possible past or future scenarios for their heroes. It can be interesting to see the dotage - or the final fates - of the forever young stalwarts of the Marvel universe, or possible scenarios where the villains have won - even if only temporarily. The timeline seems a little skewed however: the kids are all about twelve years old, which means that their parents had to have died within a decade or so. It is therefore odd that Tony Stark looks to be about sixty, and we all know that the Marvel heroes are perpetually in their twenties (or thirties, max). So Stark has aged forty years in the twelve years that he has been raising the children of the Avengers. That's what having kids will do to you, I suppose. Bruce Banner and Betty Ross also show up, similarly aged (played by Ken Kramer and Nicole Oliver respectively).

The characters and backgrounds are highly stylized with occasional anime influences. It came as a bit of a surprise, given the nice production design, that the animation is a bit cheap with rather jerky movements and minimal movement. This is actually a bit disapointing, because in all other respects, this seems to be a quality production.

Video

Presented at a ratio of 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. Even with the bonus features, there is less than two hours of material on this DVD, so excess compression is not a problem. The production is brand-new and was made for DVD, so of course image quality is pristine. The colors are deep and rich. Running time is 1:17:58, divided into 16 chapters.

Audio

This film is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, with English and Spanish subtitles. The audio mix makes fair use of the surrounds, with all sorts of explosions and electro zaps and other sounds coming from all sides. The actors were well recorded and remain more or less in the center. Fairly pedestrian music by Guy Michelmore is kept mercifully low in the mix. If nothing else, I have to give some props to the score for being played by a live light orchestra, rather than being created entirely by an electronic fake-orchestra, as so often heard in cartoons like this one.

Extras

Lionsgate have included two featurettes, a promo and a collection of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

"Legacy: Making of Next Avengers" featurette runs for 10 minutes 44 seconds; and is interview footage in which the producers discuss some of the themes present in the show, as well as the inspiration behind creating the new characters.

"Kid Power: Next Gen Marvel" featurette runs for 9 minutes 41 seconds; The writers and illustrators of Marvel's kiddie line discuss their creations.

There's also a "First Look: Hulk vs. Wolverine" promo which runs for 3 minutes 16 seconds; and are previews (with interview footage) about the upcoming "Hulk vs. Wolverine" and "Hulk vs. Thor" cartoons.

There's also bonus trailers for:

- "Spectacular Spiderman Adventures" which runs for 1 minute 24 seconds.
- "Speed Racer: The Next Generation" which runs for 1 minute 36 seconds.
- "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (animated) which runs for 44 seconds.
- "Doctor Strange" which runs for 1 minute 54 seconds.
- "Ultimate Avengers" which runs for 1 minute 55 seconds.
- "Ultimate Avengers 2" which runs for 1 minute 39 seconds.
- "Invincible Iron Man" which runs for 1 minute 26 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: A Audio: A Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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