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Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle (DVD Review)

Cartoon Network has released Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle on DVD for your viewing pleasure.  This is a 2 disc DVD set containing 10 episodes of the insanely popular kids television show.  I should post this disclaimer: Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle is actually PART 2 of the first season.  I say that, because nowhere on the package will you find that information.  This is somewhat of a blunder, because viewers will start off at episode eleven and will wonder what happened in episodes 1-10.  This set contains episodes 11-20, so we’ll have to work with what we’ve got.  Let’s get to it.  

Film 

I will summarize the plot of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle before my actual thoughts on the show.  In a final showdown that he never saw coming, Ben wrestles with an unexpected twist of fate on the new Ben 10 Ultimate Alien Power Struggle DVD. But first Gwen takes the team to a dimension of magic where they are forced to rely on her old enemy Charmcaster to survive. Then, Kevin volunteers to return to the Null Void prison to settle an old score. Finally, Ben gets angry when Gwen recruits Darkstar to help them defeat the most surprising enemy of all in a last stand they can’t bring themselves to fight. Who will walk away with absolute power?

Here are my thoughts on the show.  Huh?  I obviously missed something and that was part one of the season.  Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle is actually the second part to season 1.  I did not know that until I popped in the dvd and it started on episode 11.  D’oh!  That’s okay, we do with what we’ve got, right?

I noticed during the opening credits that some of my favorite people actually worked on this show who had previously worked on Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. The great voice director Andrea Romano acted as voice director for Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle, so I knew I was in good hands.  The animation and character designs rocked and so did some of the stories…for the most part.

I would say that the two or three episodes in this dvd set that acted stand alone episodes were the best, because you obviously didn’t need to follow any particular story arc that came before it.  Those multi-story arcs are the ones that were somewhat difficult to follow, because I had no clue as to who these characters were.  There were times where I would be watching the show and then all of these random characters start showing up that just made me scratch my head in confusion.

I do think that the powers that be need to compress this show into definitive and easily readable sets that tell consumers what they are going to watch.  In doing some research on the whole Ben 10 phenomena I’ve noticed at least half a dozen variations on this character.  It leans on a bit of overkill if they’re not properly labeled.  If I had known that this dvd that I reviewed was part 2 I would have gone out to rent part 1 just so that I could keep track.

Besides those little drawbacks, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle is a pretty cool action packed and intense show.  There are some brilliantly timed comedic moments here and there. The kids will love it; adults will be taken by the animation style, but we’ll all have to do some research and get the dvds in their proper order for maximum enjoyment.

EPISODES:

11. Map of Infinity

12. Reflected Glory

13. Deep

14. Where The Magic Happens

15. Perplexahedron

16. The Forge of Creation

17. … Nor Iron Bars A Cage

18. The Enemy of my Enemy

19. Absolute Power Part 1

20. Absolute Power Part 2

Video 

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle is presented in a “letterbox” widescreen format preserving the ‘scope’ aspect ratio of its original television exhibition.  It is enhanced for widescreen tvs (anamorphic).  This is a DVD, so I wasn’t expecting much going in and I was right.  Edge enhancement is severe, banding is everywhere, and black levels make it hard to see sometimes.  Colors, on the other hand, are rich and vibrant, backgrounds are carefully detailed, and the cgi effects are eye catching.  All things considered, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle does good by its colorful palette.

Audio 

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle is presented in 2.0 Stereo.  It’s a pretty average soundtrack, but if you have your remote control handy you can just turn the volume for that added “punch” and all will be good.  Dialogue does sound clean and crisp as do the explosions, energy blasts, and all of the alien technology running amok.  This is one of those shows that asks the question: I wonder how this would sound if it had a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack?  Maybe next time.

Special Features

The special features grade should be zero, but they did good in including one useful extra that I thought was pretty cool.  Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle includes an Ultimate Alien Database that gives the viewers a glimpse as to who and what all of the aliens featured are.  It’s very easy to navigate and tells you everything about the many aliens featured throughout the series.

  • Ultimate Alien Database

Final Thoughts 

Okay, I am being a little nice on the final score, but that’s only due to the confusion of how Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle is labeled.  Why not have the box say part 2 or vol. 2?  I know that in order for me to fully understand it I will have to get Ben 10: Ultimate Alien VOL 1. I can see parents and even the kids getting confused as to what comes first or second.  Other than that little bit of miscommunication the show is pretty cool.  The animation is top notch and it reminds me some of the more popular shows like Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. Then again most of the crew and directors of those shows also worked on this show.  Kids will love it, adults should rent it first.  Personally, I look forward to the next installment of Ben 10.

 

Order Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Power Struggle on DVD!

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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