HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher
HTS Overall Score:69
It’s rather amusing to watch the role swapping that Marvel and DC fall prey to in their animated films ventures. For the last decade DC has been playing catch-up while Marvel systematically kills them with their copious super hero movies in the live action box office, but in the reverse DC has made a name for themselves with their excellent animated superhero films. Films like “the Dark Knight Returns”, “Flashpoint Paradox” etc has created an animated DC universe that fans have been eating up. Marvel always tries so hard in this arena, and ends up failing so miserably. “Avengers Confidential” tries to pull them up out the animated mire, but does so with mixed results.
Black Widow (Jennifer Carpenter) and Nick Fury (John Eric Bentley) are in a dilemma. It seems that a mysterious organization, Leviathan, has been getting their hands on stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. weapons technology and arming themselves and thugs around the world with them. Now getting down and dirty is fine, but when you want to wipe out an enemy base you use the best at that, and that means roping in The Punisher (Brian Bloom) as an unwilling partner. Infiltrating the hidden base, the vicious duo tear through numerous bad guys to find out who is responsible. Shockingly enough it turns out to be an Ex S.H.I.E.L.D. member with a grudge and a penchant for creating super soldier serums. Bent on unleashing bio engineered super soldiers on the world to the highest bidder, this scientist and Orion, leader of the Leviathan Syndicate, are in some serious need of take down. The only problem, said scientist has created a form of mind control that can seemingly affect anyone. Now Black widow, Punisher and the rest of the Avengers have to come up with a way to stop the hidden arms sale, keep themselves from being brain washed and take down Orion in one fells swoop. Simple, right?
“Avengers Confidential” is really hit and miss. There’s a lot good going for it, but at the same time, there’s just as many missteps along the way. The film isn’t as kiddy as its predecessors, especially with the inclusion of anti-hero Frank Castle (the Punisher). Fights are stylistic and brutal with some great high flying fun. The Japanese animation style blended with modern animation styles work really well together and create some unique fights that were a joy to sit through. Black Widow and the Punisher are also two of the best Marvel characters to put together. Both of them are a bit angsty and have that dark broody past that lends itself to serious controversy between the two. Neither of them want to work with each other, but both get the job done no matter what.
On the flip side the directing and storytelling just feels a TAD underwhelming. The side plot with Elias gets wince worthy real fast and some of the lines reek of Saturday morning cartoon cheese. It doesn’t help that they felt that the characters needed to explain EVERYTHING to the viewer as if we couldn’t keep up. The end result is feeling like they are beating you over the head with a narration hammer and movie rolled into mediocrity. I never felt like the movie was a chore, but at the same time I never truly got into the movie as I have with the DC universe films. Nice try, Marvel. Hopefully next time a better result will come out.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15115[/img]The 1.78:1 AVC encode is a passable encode, but doesn’t really pop out at you with one of those “wow” encodes. The animation style is a blend of Asian anime and the fluidity of American animation, which creates some very impressive fight scenes and some great flying motion shots, but unfortunately, the level of animation detail is rather poor. Most of the characters aren’t given a lot of fine detail to work with, even in terms of normal anime. Black Widow’s hair and Elias’ body armor are about the finest detailed drawings out there and that’s not saying much. The colors are rather flat and dull with a penchant for blown out whites in the color palette. As a result the image just doesn’t seem very vibrant, even when it looks like it should. The Punisher comes across quite well, with a lot shadowy look that fits his personality, but Black Widow doesn’t fair as well, with her vibrant red hair, dulled a bit by the animation style. The black levels are decent, but nothing spectacular, especially considering the blow out look that the film goes for. Overall, it’s a decent encode that gets the job done, but the limited style of art doesn’t translate to an eye popping image that modern animation usually goes for.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15116[/img]Now, the audio fares just a bit better than video, luckily. We’re given a choice between an English and a Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and you can really choose whichever one you want based on your preference. The English track is quite good with some bombastic action sequences that really push up the bass and some very solid vocals. I found that Natasha and Punisher were well done in the voice acting department, but by the end of the film you really started to hate Elias and his constantly whining voice. The film is a bit front heavy, except during the copious action sequences, and stays up front for the majority of the film. I checked out the Japanese track to see how it fared, and ended up liking it a bit better. Personally I felt that Iron Man and Natasha were better dubbed in the English track, but not by much. It was mostly due to the vocal inflections that Jennifer Carpenter gave Black Widow, but the rest of the cast sounded a LOT better dubbed in Japanese. Especially Elias, who now didn’t sound nearly as pathetic and whiny. There also seemed to be a little bit more dynamic range in the Japanese track as well, with a bit more LFE. Both tracks do a solid job and either one will suit you well, depending on how comfortable you are with subtitles.
• Conceptual Art Gallery
• The Vigilante vs. The Spy
• Espionage and Punishment
“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher” isn’t anything awful, by any stretch of the imagination, but it really is nothing more than a Netflix watch on a lazy afternoon if you’re a fan of animated adventures. It tries to take over the mantle that DC has been garnering for adult fans and succeeds only part way. Nowhere near as Kiddy as their last outages it has some good things going for it, but wallows in a lost directing style and ends up being totally forgettable. It’s meager budget shows in the animation colors and audio so, as I said before, It’s a Netflix rental.
Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Brian Bloom, Grant George
Directed by: Kenichi Shimizu
Written by: Ross Andru, Gerry Conway
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Japanese: DTS-HD MA
Rated: Rated PG-13
Runtime: 83 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 25th, 2014
Buy Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher Blu-ray on Amazon
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