Wait, there were like four seasons of Ben 10, three of Ben 10: Alien Force, and now Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Okay, what is the difference between the last two? New cast? Negative. New powers? Not really. New feel or format? Nope. New attitude? Sadly no.
So what is new? Ben is outed as a “hero”, and there is a new villain. Oh, his faux omnitrix has a ultimate setting which is designed to make beefed up versions of existing transformations in order to sell more action figures. But does that make any difference at all to the plot? No.
The season in a sentence: Ben, Gwen and Kevin are unhappy people who never get along well and somehow stumble into battles with bad aliens and emerge victorious despite a huge chip on Kevin’s shoulder, an always angry Gwen and chronic underachiever Ben who you will want to punch more than root for despite a ham handed attempt to make him suddenly smart at the end of the season.
On the bright side some of the classic alien transformations you liked way back when make appearances. Max Tennison, original plumber hero is back and still doing well. Hmm, other highlights? There were not many. Oh, Charmcaster is back. They tried to rush a transformation of her character. But she is fun and interesting so we still welcomed the flawed effort.
The tone was just monotonous for 20 episodes. We hand it to series creator “Man of Action” for making a series strong enough to withstand the same gray, subdued and generally dissatisfying note episode after episode. The endings also stepped on many episode’s resolutions. The satisfaction you gained from (maybe) defeating a bad guy was practically ruined by an fifteen second insert at the end where something bad inevitably happened. Yuck.
What makes Ben so unlikeable?
- He is irresponsible.
- He makes snap, unthinking or selfish decisions in combat.
- He is generally, almost willfully obtuse.
- They try to make him suddenly smart.
- He is a shallow person whose goal in life is apparently getting a smoothie.
- He (constantly) repeats the necessity to kill one of his teammates for three episodes without thinking much about an alternative.
An interesting face from the past was the strange Alien-X. Not seen since the first season of Alien Force, the overpowered alien was not even used but rather made into a plot device. The unlocking of the omnitrix in order to transform into him was cool though. Would that this uber-powerful alien could be put on some sort of cosmic timer and be unleashed once a season…
New arc villain Aggregor had potential. But he was more interesting as an intelligent villain -before he powered himself up to be a brute. It seemed somehow beneath his built up stature. Despite potential, he has so far fallen short of Vilgax.
The plumbers showed up enough to get kicked around. These guys are supposed to be the powerful galactic police? Sooper genius and omnitrix creator Azmuth shows up mostly to yell at Ben and criticize the “ultramatrix” which we too found underwhelming.
If you are looking for a show with a lot of arguing, where even the heroes do not get along, this may be for you. It does have its moments of action, but none of humor, and few of satisfaction. 20 episodes of pressure are not relieved by the last 10 seconds of the season where the heroes decide to go have a smoothie.