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Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise Of The Panther (2006)
Directors: Will Meugniot and Richard Sebast

review by Ian R. Faulkner

Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise Of The Panther introduces us to a new character, the Black Panther (voiced by Jeffrey D. Sams), who is not only a superhero but also the crown prince of an unknown and isolated land hidden deep with Africa's darkest heart known as Wakanda.

Wakanda and the Black Panther (alias, T'Challa) are in trouble. The young prince is forced to fill his father's shoes when the alien Nazi shape-shifters (from the first movie, Ultimate Avengers) turn up and kill King T'Chaka. Against the wishes of his people, T'Challa heads off to America in order to seek the help of Captain America (voiced by Justin Gross) and the Avengers.

When our heroes arrive en mass with T'Challa they receive an initial mixed reception from the Wakandan people, but then the Avengers step up and deal with the aliens, including the Cap's old foe, Herr Kleiser (the evil Nazi guy voiced by Jim Ward), and save the day in a number of violent and gory action scenes.

The Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise Of The Panther, as a sequel, isn't bad, but it is nowhere near as tight as the original movie (and it certainly falls short of its source material, which, on the whole, it ignores from the get go). If anything, the overall feeling I came away with was that it felt rushed: the plotting is a little too loose and the character development, given their available back history, is poor.

The main hook for me, and the sequel's saving grace, was the way the writers interspersed the number of subplots within the movie's structure, mostly dealing with issues falling out of the first movie, rather than the by-the-numbers action sequences. For example, we get to see the breakdown of the Wasp and Giant Man's relationship (as voiced by Grey DeLisle, and Nolan North, respectively) and Bruce Banner - alias the Hulk, and Betty Ross (voiced by Michael Massee and Nan McNamara) dealing with Bruce's guilt about attacking the Avengers.

Basically, if you're an Avengers fan, or if you enjoyed the first movie, Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise Of The Panther is worth picking up and taking a look - it has retained the cinematic feel of the first movie and it is entertaining. However, if you're actually looking for a first taste of superhero animation, then I would head for one of the Batman animated movies, such as 1993's Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm (including for that matter any of the collected and truly excellent animated series), or Marvel's own animated feature, The Invincible Iron Man (2007), directed by Patrick Archibald and Frank Paur.

The DVD special features offer a brief history of comic source material and how it was approached, which contains interviews with both Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch (writer and artist on The Ultimates); an 'ultimate gag reel', which is just scenes re-dubbed with mildly humorous dialogue; and a couple of first looks at the other animated features due from Marvel.

The tagline for the Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise Of The Panther states that it is a rematch of heroic proportions. This is not strictly true. In a nutshell: for the fans.
Ultimate Avengers 2

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