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Monday, April 2, 2012

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens (2012) TV CGI movie review



















Overall verdict: 5.5/10

The Good: Superb voice cast, chemistry and acting. Well written dialogue.

The Bad: Sub standard animation for a movie, overused plot devices, no character development, confusing narrative.


******************************Review********************











After years of following the adventures of teenage Ben Tennyson through Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, this all-CGI movie takes us back to the Ten Year old Ben Tennyson that animation fans were first introduced to. For the benefit of all, here are the basics. Ten year old Ben Tennyson comes across this alien technology called "The Omnitrix" that allows him to morph into 10 different types of aliens. Together with his grandpa, who is secretly a hi tech defender of earth, and his magic wielding cousin Gwen, Ben Tennyson uses his new gift to take out any evil alien that may threaten mankind.

Over the course of the series, Ben 10 is notable for developing a rich mythos and fictional universe filled with alien technology, extraterrestrial races, almost as diverse as Star Wars. This new movie throws you right into that universe without any form of introduction to anything. So, if you are not a pre-existing Ben 10 fan, be prepared to do a lot of wiki-ing.

However, any good fan would tell you how over-done the plot is. This is not the first time where some mishap causes a recurring glitch in Ben's Omnitrix. This is not the first time where some super powered alien comes after Ben for reasons unknown. Heck, this whole plot seems like a futile follow up to "Secret of the Omnitrix" the previous Ben 10 animated movie (which was in traditional 2D animation and a lot better than this one by the way). So after a whole summer of kicking alien butt, Ben has to go back to school. One night he gets a summons to meet Azmuth, the creator of the omnitrix, and leaves with his ally Tetrax despite being grounded. At the meeting place, they are attacked by a blue "Tokustar" which disappears and an evil Mechamorph warrior ambushes Ben thinking that Ben knows the whereabouts of the mysterious Tokustar.(See what i mean by needing lots of pre-existing knowledge of the Ben 10 Universe?)

Now the mystery element is the main attraction. The show keeps the viewers asking questions until the last moment: Where is Azmuth, who is the mysterious attacker, what is wrong with the omnitrix etc. But the resolution to the story is very anti-climatic. Overall, it lacks the intergalactic scope of "Secret of the Omnitrix" or the novelty of the live action movies (as bad as they were). If it were not for the CGI animation, this movie could have easily been a mid season episode of the original series.

The CGI itself is another problem. The computer animation tries to translate the original anime-styled designs to 3D CGI but with sub-par results. The simples lines and colors that work so well in 2D just seems unimpressive in 3D CGI and downright lazy at times. For example, characters' hair look more like clumps of clay, clothing lack any folds, background buildings and props are hastily rendered with only the most basic of shadings. Sometimes even the mouth movements seem out of sync with dialogue. The designs are great but the actual CGI quality is sadly below mediocre; more fitting for a early 2000s TV series than a 2012 movie. Vehicles, wreckage and the like have a certain weightless feel about them and those fire, water or smoke effects look years behind the times. Just comparing this to the Ben 10: Vilgax attacks PSP video game shows you how lacking this show is in terms of quality.

The movie's only redeeming quality is the voice acting. Tara Strong and the other original voice actors return to the roles that they helped give life to and once again put forth an awesome performance. The chemistry is impeccable; just hearing Ben and Gwen bicker again will bring a smile to any fan's face. More thought seems to have gone into the dialogue script than coming up with a fresh epic story.

It is a valiant move to try and revisit the original Ben 10 but at least try to do it right. The creators could have gotten a more competent animation studio and a "bigger" plot to justify this movie as a movie and not a random episode of the TV series but with crappy animation.

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Go For it: if you missed the original 10 year old kid Ben 10 and yearn for that tiny bit of nostalgia
Avoid it: if have an ounce of pride in the franchise and you do not want to see your favorite characters return to the screen in a sub par visual form.

Entertainment: C+
Story: C-
Characters: A
Animation: C-
Art: C+
Music: C-
Voice work: A
Replay Value: B
"Brains": D+

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