22 January 2013

DVD Review: "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Volume One: Heroes Assemble!"

Rated: TV-Y7 for fantasy violence
Starring: Eric Loomis, Brian Bloom, and Colleen O'Shaughnessey
Released: 2012
Synopsis: Tony Stark has become Iron Man thanks to advanced technology. Dr. Bruce Banner is now the monstrous Hulk after an experiment gone wrong. Captain America, a hero of the past, is brought back to life through time travel.  Thor hails from the distant world of Asgard.  Hank Pym the entomologist, and his assistant Janet Van Dyne, are now Ant-Man and The Wasp as a result of Pym's scientific smarts.  Despite their different backgrounds and abilities, the world needs them to come together, because forces of evil bent on world destruction can't be stopped by anyone else...

Stories: 4/5
The superhero yarns spun in this set are mostly amazing; they're definitely more convoluted than I expected for a half-hour Saturday morning cartoon.  I can't comment on how true they are to the comics, but, from the first episode, it had me hooked.  Where it falters a bit is the "Meet Captain America" episode, which had by far the poorest storyline in the set.

Production Values: 5/5
The animation and action are spot-on! I was surprised how intense these episodes were.  When I watched "Breakout: Part Two," I was saying, "Dang!" every minute or so because of the sheer intensity.  Even the character of Tony Stark looks and sounds just like Robert Downey, Jr., though he does not reprise his blockbuster role here.  This is definitely a treat for superhero fans such as myself.

Moral Content: 3.5/5
This is where this set falters a bit.  Some of the moral problems that plagued last year's top-grossing film--profanity, drug references, blood--are nowhere to be seen here, which is a good thing.  Unfortunately, the violence is quite intense, possibly too much for those around eight or nine years old.  One scene shows Thor using his hammer to knock a monster's tooth out.  Another implies insects tearing up people, though no blood, gore, or carnage is seen.  Also, some of the women in this set, including superheroine The Wasp, wear revealing clothing.  Preteens, teens, and adults probably won't have any problems with anything in this set, but anyone younger might be freaked out by certain scenes.

Conclusion: Until recently, I hadn't watched a Saturday morning series since Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2005, but the DVD set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made me want to check out other animated programs about superheroes.  Though definitely for an older age group than its "TV-Y7" rating would imply, these are well-made, action-packed, decidedly intense cartoons that definitely deserve a look from fans of movies such as The Avengers, Spider-Man 2, and The Dark Knight.  You may avoid it because you think it's "kiddie," but I'll be the first to tell you that, by doing so, you're seriously missing out.

Score: 4.25/5

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