Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens [2012]

A Step Backwards

(…then a trip and fall.)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens is without the doubt the weakest entry in the growing library of the franchise. And when we say “weakest,” we are being generous. It was terrible. A true disappointment. Perhaps this is even more so because we have come to expect and mostly gotten better from Man of Action’s series.

Evil Way Big rages! Rages against Destroy All Aliens!

Our patented one-sentence synopsis will save you the headache of this dog: Extra annoying prepubescent Ben and Gwen experience an untold adventure (which should have remained untold) shoehorned into the first series continuity but with little regard to the characters or fun-factor in which Ben and company have a series of the most boring action scenes only to discover the boring secret behind the miserable encounters, oh, and along the way Ben learns the politically correct meaning of schoolwork (this message brought to you by the National Government School Ass.).

In an incredible twist, homework is more enjoyable than Destroy All Aliens.

Ben and Gwen were more unlikeable than ever depicted. Their banter, which we suppose was to be the family squabble type, was more of the “these two really hate each other” type. Each of their encounters made them more unsympathetic than the last.

Abuse of power. Try not to let this depiction cloud your fine memories of Ben 10. (Maybe it is all a dream, like that season of Dallas. -Look it up, true believers.)

Gwen; too powerful (and liberal with those powers) than originally depicted Ben 10, had abilities more akin to the Alien Force era. Unfitting on such an annoying child. Grandpa Max, a character we used to like a lot more, had his lines and contribution reduced to about five versions of, “Hey, cut it out you two.”

Max Tennyson: World’s toughest babysitter.

The character treated the worst was Azmuth, the long-lived, venerable, sometimes wise, scientific, and reclusive father figure of the show. Normally a great and fun character in his rare appearances. Here, he was voiced awfully. He was whiny instead of his detached cantankerousness we have come to expect. A horrid depiction topped off with the inexplicable decision to introduce HIS father… Huh? Really? Why? (There is no good answer.)

It was more like Azmuth’s son than Azmuth… What was with this outfit? Why is he smiling? Why is he wearing swim fins?

The computer generated animation was awful. Not stylized simple, just simple. Not flat colored for the cartoony look, shaded simple for rendering on the intern’s netbook they borrowed for this “feature.”

We could say something snarky here about the computer graphics… but we just do not have the heart… We will just say they could have done better.

The only bright spot was the returning alien, Tetrax. He is a fun and sympathetic character. His race forms the template of the omnitrix Diamondhead transformation. He was well voiced, though his part and lines did not make much sense. His cool iceman styled travel method was the only entertaining visual in the feature.

Actual quote by Tetrax to Gwen: “Is this what you’re like with Ben? I can see why he complains about you.”

Destroy all Aliens crams five minutes of confusing plot into one hour and nine minutes of paradoxically boring action. Pointless dream-like sequences in empty environments that were not rooted even in the reality of the feature. You know what action sequences are like when you do not care who wins? Its gets old fast.

The one bright spot, Tetrax, could not illuminate the plot. Additionally his crystal composition and shards were, uh, very un-crystal-looking.

It was just weird, too, how after comments from Gwen, we were supposed to just accept that Azmuth’s father was of a whole different race, and a non-biological one at that. Look, unless you have been forced to babysit horridly unruly kids, or have your own children that need to be punished, skip this sub-par entertainment.

For those who are fans of the franchise and have followed it from the start, this pointless feature should stay below your notice. In our opinion it adds nothing good to the Ben 10 universe. If you have a four-year-old whom you would like to experience this franchise for the first time, watch season one of Ben 10 and not this confusing, befuddling, and boring piece.

“Why are we here!?”

(PS – The Wildmutts were awful.)

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

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Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2011-2012] Season 2. Conclusion

A Stretched Season that may Stretch Patience

And so, the world’s longest season (over a calendar year), and the “ultimate” series itself comes to a final, and in our opinion, overdue end. Not that there were not interesting and fun things this season, just that they came with too high a price tag.

Poor Gwen. All that power and smarts, and yet she remains an unhappy girl. Here she is impatient (top), crazy, and angry (what else is new).

Examples of this duality?

  • Background on Grandpa Max. Good.
  • But it was schmaltzy.

Will love conquer all for this star-crossed (uh, literally) pair?

  • Background on Azmuth. Good.
  • But it was extra schmaltzy.

“Let me tell you something Fortress Guy! Rath doesn’t like schmultz!”

  • Old (once fun) villains return. Good.
  • But tired somehow.

Oh that zany Dr. Animo. You just don’t know what kooky hijinx he’ll come up with next.

  • New transforms for Ben. Good.
  • But completely out of nowhere.

Does this whole alien race dress like Flash wannabe Quicksilver?

“I prefer to kick it old school.”

  • A resolution for the Forever Knights. Good.
  • But it was sad and lame.

“Hear me knights! For centuries we’ve waited for this moment to fight a costly and pointless battle. But it will look cool, and we get to blow a whole episode’s VFX budget.”

Season Two’s conclusion in a sentence: Ben, a character whose likeability only surpasses Julie’s, continues his careless bumble toward adulthood which regularly endangers those around him including only slightly less angry Gwen, likeable but slowly henpecked Kevin, and often the planet Earth, while also somehow corralling a parade of occasionally comical/stupid/obsessed villains, drinking a lot of sugary beverages, navigating through some real politically correct plots, and doing it all in a continually dark, underpopulated and vaguely depressing world.

Witness the sad, tragic fall of Twilight wannabe star Jennifer Nocturne. It’s definitely not for young kids.

That is not to say we dislike the show, on the whole we do not. But this incarnation (ultimate) was stretched too long without payoff. Build up has to reasonably yield resolution for enjoyment. We were past ready for the next reboot, Ben 10: Omniverse.

Do Ben and Gwen even go to school any more?

Even the mighty (hardly seen and only once used) Alien-X would have been hard pressed to pull this climax out of the pit of pointlessness.

We appreciated the veiled Christian imagery of (once) noble knights defeating a demonic dragon. In this case, an evil other-dimensional being with the name of an ancient pagan god, Diagon. Once defeated by First Knight George, he now seemed more formidable.

So Diagon is a giant unexplained, extra-dimensional, sky squid? What’s his motivation? Is he looking for a really large body of water?

George once seemed unbeatable. Cutting through dimensions, making vortices. (Like a level 20 Paladin with a +5 magic sword.) What happened?

Maybe it was Daigon’s never-ending supply of dimension-skimming, ninja-like esoterica. They got old, because we the viewers never got full satisfaction defeating them (they beat the good guys down again and again with apparently endless supply).

Whoa! Transforming from horridly unpalatable Julie to Elena* is quite the improvement. (*Okay, Elena is slightly unhinged, but is Julie really less so?)

Julie is consistent. Consistently the worst, most un-fun girlfriend EVAR.

The Ben 10: UA finale asked us to believe our lackadaisical hero Ben, whose undisciplined mind lives on sumo-slammers and slushies, somehow pulls from within the ability to defeat the power of the enemy and change the whole world with the legendary Sword of Azmuth?

Whereas old George, living for 2000 years, the brave, disciplined, once single-handed vanquisher of Diagon, missed the mark? George’s pointless demise (completely un-mourned by Ben) was beneath a character long in the making, and a group (the Forever Knights) dating back  to the start of the whole franchise in 2005.

Now where have we seen this before…

Ben and his venerable arch enemy Vilgax play out a scene lifted almost word for word from one of our favorite Masters of the Universe episodes. The temptation of Heman in “The Search.” (Since Ben 10 producers sought “inspiration,” we are gratified they picked something memorable.

You may spot Heman sporting this very expression.

See segment below from 2:00-3:15.)

Lucky Girl was back, albeit very briefly.

The extended season must have taken a toll on the writers. Some ridiculous, unfun, politically correct plots made the episode roster, often taking the form of Gwen lecturing us about evolutionary nonsense or about how people litter with plastic bottles, etc. Ugh. Save it for Captain Planet. Don’t tell us the villain this episode is a sentient pile of garbage?

I thought we told you not to tell us! UGH…

“Look, I made this from the toaster downstairs and your laptop. Pretty nifty, huh?”

Limits can paradoxically increase drama. Young Ben only had 10 aliens, and struggled with the omnitrix choosing wrongly or “timing out.” In Ultimate it seemed as though Ben had few limits. Why not always go most powerful alien or “ultimate?”

There’s no limit to the creatures you can become!

Gwen was, at times, downright fearsome. (Some might say it wasn’t her annodite powers…)

The ultramatrix was ill-defined. What were its (and Gwen’s for that matter) limits? It made for writing challenges, and susceptibility to plot holes. Imagine the challenge in writing villains for Superman (and not relying on Kryptonite every time).

Will Superman fly around the planet and reverse time?

Charmcaster was back–and could not be left a sympathetic character! She kills EVERYONE in a dark ritual this season. Oh, and she makes some ‘questionable’ relationship decisions. (However, not so bad when compared to a relationship with Julie…)

Ben 10: UA was sometimes fun, but the spark was missing. They can do better. Let’s hope they get it straightened out for Omniverse.

“I parked out front. You don’t think anyone will mind, do you?”

The new, improved Omniverse Omnitrix. (However, it still doesn’t tell time.)

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

_____________________

Tell the FORTRESS what you think!

(Or we will go humungasaur on your face!)

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2011] Season 2. Part 1

B10:UA Season One was 20 episodes. A little unusual, but syndicated animated shows apparently march to a different drum. Season two: 32 episodes? And they took a hiatus of months after the first 12. The Fortress has decided not to wait. We are weighing in on the first half. Who knows when the season will end?

Does this look like a girl who would wait for season to end?

Is Elena an old flame? A mature scientist crushing on a teenager? An evil robot? All of the above?

Is there an arc this season? Not really. It is a parade of single episode enemies both old and new. Fortunately the Ben 10 universe is interesting, vast and diverse. With 9 combined seasons of Ben 10 franchise, there are plenty of embittered, goofy and strange opponents to revisit our “hero”. We almost want to call him an anti-hero since he is so lackluster, self centered and uncaring.

We hope Ben keeps in mind that Eunice is a robot.

Is Ben getting more likable this season? They may be trying a little. It would not take much considering last season’s rock bottom status. However we also think people are just getting used to his leaden personality. He was more likable as a bratty grammar school kid.

Young Grandpa Max kisses- …an energy creature?

Years later, his grandson smooches with a robot?

After Kevin’s monster period last season, he has returned to be the most likeable member of the three stars. Who does not like the “rogue with a heart of gold”? It is a tried and true formula you may have seen before.

Yes, Kevin is Han Solo. Ben is Luke, however only in his heroic action role, not in likeable personality. And Gwen is indeed the wise-cracking, hard-nosed, no-nonsense, down-to-business, cool-headed Princess Leia type (all those dashes!).  Although she has a little attitude, the team is getting along better. They have moved through their Star Wars: A New Hope banter, through their Empire Strikes Back bickering, and finally into their Return of the Jedi acceptance and teamwork.

Azmuth is back, and crotchety as ever. He points a lot.

Tabloid TV character Will Harangue is back, and also crotchety as ever. Just stay out of politics Ben 10 creators.

Professor Paradox is back. He is not crotchety, however he never seems to pop in with good news.

Last season Gwen was unhappy all the time and did not like it. This season Gwen is unhappy all the time and is resigned to it. Speaking of females in the show, what happened to Ben’s supposed girlfriend Julie? You will be hard pressed to find a bigger bit- uh, …un-pleasable girl with constantly nagging bad attitude. We know Ben is not great catch, but still. All the Julie episodes this season have higher levels of uncomfortableness.

Oh look, Gwen is mad again. That’s different… *not*

Ben and Julie’s unfun relationship serves as an example to relationship counselors of how not to relate. No mass! No mass!

Here are other questions you may ask:

  1. Is there any daylight this season? Very little.
  2. Is the world still a strangely uninhabited place? More or less.
  3. What about the only female this season without an attitude? She’s a robot.

Sunny is Gwen’s cousin with a rebellious streak and a desire to break things. Uh, bad combination even before the energy powers are added…

One thing the Fortress was especially pleased with was the rebirth of the Forever Knights, our favorite villains. We thought they were launched well with their mysterious King way back in the original series. Since then their status has fallen to “losers”, and finally “a joke”. But the return of their founder, Old George, with some high-tech gizmos no less will hopefully reinvigorate them for the rest of this season and beyond. We’ll see.

Could mysterious Old George really be the ancient, original Forever Knight? And where did he get those long overdue armor upgrades? (And why doesn’t he trim that beard?)

The writing continues to be quality, although quirky and perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes episodes are slow-moving and resolve less than satisfying ways. At least there is less unfun anticipation of the three leads arguing. They do it less now.

Terraspin has to be the lamest alien transformation.

The Ben 10,000 continuity has been completely rewritten with some alternate dimension excuse.

Oh look, they resurrected the old “evil military officer” stereotype. Doesn’t he know aliens are not bad (even the bad ones), they are just misunderstood?

Is this (half) season worth watching? We think so (despite annoying Julie). Especially if you want to see appearances by Azmuth, Professor Paradox, Grandpa Max, and …Vilgax? Well sort of.

Didn’t I see you in one of those Pirates of the Caribbean movies?

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

 

Ben 10: Alien Force [2008-2009] Season 2. 13 Episodes

ben_10_alien_force_gwen_kevin_ben_omnitrix

Ben 10 ALien Force (B10AF) season 2 continues farther down the darker path set in season 1.  In many ways we think that is where fans and those here in the Fortress wanted it to go.  However overall, the destination came with less satisfaction than we would have thought.

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Julie is not satisfied with her terrible cel reception.  They are giving her the old “alien fleet is interfering with service” excuse. 

Many plot threads set up in season 1 are brought to climax in season 2, although most of them were crammed into the last episode.  Ongoing multi-episode arcs are a different format than the seasons of the original Ben 10 upon which the franchise was launched.  However they fit the more mature theme of B10AF, which has become very dark and gritty.

Dark like this freakazoid, last season's Michael Morningstar now calling himself "Darkstar".  (Looks like my 6th grade math teacher.)

Dark like this freakazoid, last season’s Michael Morningstar now calling himself “Darkstar”. (Looks like our 6th grade math teacher.)

Literally dark too.  Every episode takes place at night.  Every one.  Aside from a short stint on an inhospitable desolate planet and a trip to the null void you will barely glimpse the sun or even brightness.  They purposely set that tone, opening most episodes with Kevin’s car driving at night.  As much as some may think they would enjoy that, combined with some somber episodes it got a little old.

Do not be too disappointed Kevin...

Do not be too disappointed Kevin…

... at least Gwen is still hot, -AND she likes you.

… Gwen is becoming a fine female specimen, -AND unfathomably likes you.  Women…

The main baddies continue to be the powerful Highbreed and their goons the DNAliens.  In fitting arc fashion they do not get defeated until the last episode.  However there really were not enough smaller victories along the way for our satisfaction.  Some of the episodes just kind of …ended.  This is not X-Files.  Give us a little something more guys.

Looking at the inside of the omnitrix was nore satisfying than some of tthis season's episode endings.

Seeing the inside of the omnitrix was more satisfying than some of this season’s episode endings.

There were other potential fan desires made reality.  Gwen wrestled with her ultra powerful alien half.  A super team up of all the powerful people we have met along the way occured.  The omitrix “unlocked” (a bit disappointing).  It is too bad these anticipated elements were rushed in the last 20 minutes of the season.

This was

Gwen on the verge of becoming …something else.  This was one of the more poignant moments in the season, although not one we would like to see our Saturday night date express.

Azmuth, the super brainy alien maker of the omitrix returns and later gets his planet blown up.  In the end he says he has “rebuilding” to do.  What?  The planet was blown up!

The super brainy alien Azmuth and the human timetraveling professor formerly called Paradox.  Yep, just another day casting Ben 10.

The super brainy alien Azmuth and the human time traveling professor formerly called Paradox. Yep, just another day casting Ben 10.

Grandpa Max returns.  We knew he could not be dead if the future episodes from the original Ben 10 meant anything.  It was good to see him back in action.  We really like that character, even if there is no longer room for him in the show.

Do not make Max Tennyson angry.  You wouldn't like him when he is angry...

Do not make Max Tennyson angry. You wouldn’t like him when he is angry…

Some unusual episodes were partially told through the perspective of a remorseful DNAlien or a strong alien …baby.  We commend the production team “Man-of-Action” for taking chances and being different.  That gamble paid off – some of the time.  In these cases, not as much.  You are still making an action oriented half hour animated drama where there needs to be a satisfactory pay off unless it is a two-parter.

You cannot cram an entire season's worth of excitment into the last episode, -er okay you can.  But you shouldn't!

You cannot cram an entire season’s worth of excitment into the last episode, -er okay you can. But you shouldn’t!

There was a weird feeling to the whole season.  People talked about their daytime lives, school, homework, etc., but you never really saw it.  It was surreal; a strange dichotomy that kept us from fully engaging in the B10AF world.

Is a girl with glowing eyes weird?  In the Ben 10 universe, not so much.

Is a girl with glowing eyes weird? In the Ben 10 universe, not so much.  (Plus those 80’s eyeshadow shades are coming back.)

A final note:  There was no sign of “Alien X” from the previous season, and only one mention of him.  His power really could have helped out in the end, if he was at all usable.  Too powerful and too unusable.  A bit of a waste really.  In fact, the entire roster of B10AF omnitrx aliens as a whole have been less fun and less interesting than the original 10.

We are sorry, but Alien Force's "Chromastone"...

We are sorry, but Alien Force’s “Chromastone”…

...is no original Ben 10 "Diamondhead".

…is no original Ben 10 “Diamondhead”.  We miss that dude.

ben_10_alien_force_diamondhead_2

The writing was for the most part sharp.  The one liners were better than ever.  Man-of-Action definitely have the skill to make more mature dramas if they choose. They just need to keep in mind the kind of show they are making at the moment, and tailor their talent accordingly.

How sweet.  A touching mother/son moment.

How sweet. A touching mother/son moment.

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens