Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher Review

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It’s good to see the Marvel anime once more. For the most part, this project was a great success. The Iron Man anime was a lot of fun, Wolverine had some of the best Marvel action scenes and themes out there, and Blade was a fun mix of both. It wasn’t as fun and Vampires are pretty bleh, but it was still decent and much better than the average Blade product should be. X-Men dropped the ball for me, but I still don’t think I’d call it bad. A little dull…maybe a little boring, but it wasn’t bad. Avengers Confidential manages to get up to Wolverine levels of epicness and it’s a superb film. Automatically one of Marvel’s best!

SHIELD captures Punisher and they explain that his vigilante practices cannot be tolerated at the moment. He just messed up an infiltration mission that had been months in the making and now SHIELD is no closer to finding out who the mastermind of this new terrorist organization is. Punisher brings up the valid point of how SHIELD was just standing aside and watching as many innocent civilians were being massacred so he made the call. SHIELD doesn’t have a good answer for this so they run off and so does Punisher. Punisher leads Black Widow to the villain hideout as part of the deal and then he leaves to get his job done. He wants to destroy the main villain. (You may not know this, but the Punisher never takes prisoners)

Punisher’s the main character and his plot is the most interesting in the film. He openly goes around destroying everyone who gets in his way. Essentially, he believes that dirtying his hands to get rid of the criminals that infest the world is a good deal so he goes ahead and does it. You couldn’t call Punisher a hero, but at least he does try to protect the innocents and only fatally injures villains. He’s a great main character and he may be more likable than the other anime leads. Only Wolverine would be close. Punisher has been around the block a few times and you can see his experience. He may not have a fancy spynetwork backing him up, but Punisher still knows what’s happening on his streets.

He has a good amount of super strength and speed like Captain America so Punisher can always hold his own in a fight. There’s never a doubt as to who will win when Punisher is in the battle. His character was handled well and when written correctly, Punisher is definitely one of the most likable Marvel characters on the block. We’ve got another super soldier here as well in the form of Black Widow.

She’s nearly as strong as the Punisher and probably a little quicker. I’d say that the Punisher has the edge in their bouts, but Black Widow always makes it a close contest. The action scenes in this film are great, but I’ll get into that in a second. The one off putting thing about Black Widow is the voice used in this film. I could probably get used to it if we had a lot of sequels to look forward too, but it’s not the case. The voice isn’t bad, it just doesn’t sound like Black Widow. Maybe it’s a little too happy go lucky for her. It doesn’t negatively impact the actual portrayal of the character though.

It’s good to see her show some free will as she disobeys Shield. Voice aside, this is easily one of Black Widow’s best portrayals in animation. She’s a character who can easily be misunderstood and poorly written by the writers, but at her core Black Widow is a powerful assassin who has a lot of experience in the spy game. I still do not care for her portrayal in the MCU and the Civil War trailer basically confirms that this will not change, but if the writers could pick up on her attitude from this film a little more that would change. Granted, I could do without the flirting with Amadeus, but besides that Widow is basically on point. We also have to ignore the sideplot with Elihas. Wait a second…was this actually a good portrayal…..

Well, for the most part it is. Clearly the character is still not perfect, but I still do like the fact that she disobeys Fury quite a few times as the film goes on. That’s something that her live action persona would have a tough time doing. Widow treats everything like a game and never actually gets serious, which is fitting for an assassin since she is involved with death just about every day. Trying to stop Punisher towards the beginning of the film from leaving for his own goals was pretty much futile, but at least it gave us an extra fight or two.
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Nick Fury’s pretty iffy the whole time. He is about as corrupt here as you’ll ever see him and the end game is the only thing that he cares about. Fury didn’t even realize that his own agent had switched sides so I think he probably needs to lower the tough guy act a little. It’s definitely not working on anyone if you ask me and the Punisher nearly took him down when they first met. Nick’s basically a normal guy surrounded by superhuman fighters. He’s really stretching his luck every time he comes off as antagonistic.

One annoying character in the film was Amadeus. He’s the generic kid genius who’s basically a hassle and can’t back up his tough talk. His first scene in the film is him just opening up a villain’s program without debugging it. Sure enough, the program was a virus and you wonder why this kid is supposed to be some kind of genius. Black Widow’s always teasing him as evidenced by their conversations and Amadeus uses this as his inspiration to help the team, but it’s a sideplot that got old the second it was mentioned and the guy’s a terrible character.

There was one other subplot, which was terrible and that was actually Black Widow’s. Back in the day, she actually got attached to a Rando (Name for any random original character. It’s actually a pretty neat slang word. I don’t approve of most, but this one’s all right) but the guy figured that he wasn’t worthy so he joined Hydra and decided to destroy as many people as possible. Not directly though, this guy doesn’t get his hands dirty. He did get super powers through his vaccine though so now he can actually give Punisher and Black Widow a good fight. Unfortunately, he never goes up against the Punisher, which was a mixed opportunity, but it was good that Widow got to fight her own battles I suppose.

His name is actually Elihas is you’re curious. I decided to look him up and it turns out that this guy is Egghead. Hahahahahahahahaha! That fits perfectly if you ask me and the guy sure gained some weight after this anime adventure. He’s a great fighter so it’s a shame that the character was no good. He even seemed to be better than Black Widow as she mostly held her own through cheap shots and appeal to emotion arguments. The whole thing was Elihas’ fault, but you still had to wonder why he fell for the same cheap shot over and over and over again.

Orion was the big boss, the head honcho, the big cheese of the film. He only got to appear for a few minutes, but he’s decently tough. What he lacks in athletics, Orion makes up for in pure power. His energy blasts were cool to look at and I liked the armor. He made for a fun final boss although the action fight scene wasn’t quite as fun as the others since he couldn’t hope to keep up in terms of speed.

Ignore the cover of this movie, the animation is actually quite good. If the movie looked like the cover then that would have very significantly hurt this film and I probably would have dropped two stars. The animation would start a ripple effect that would hurt several other areas as the characters would not have been quite as cool. Yes, you heard correctly, animation has the power to actually affect the characters on a personality level. Luckily, the animation is stunning and the fight scenes are great.

These action scenes don’t try to tone down the character’s abilities for the general audience so we are treated with some high speed hand to hand rumbles. They are much better than any action scene that we’ve seen in a Marvel film to date. Yes, this is the single best Marvel film when it comes down to the fight scenes. I just wish that the film could have been longer so we could have had some more action, but it was at a decent length anyway.

This film’s pretty intense and also has a dark color scheme, but the film pulls it off quite nicely, which is a thumbs up for the writing. If the film’s writing was sub par, then there would be a lot of language, gratuitous blood spilling after every shot, and the film would have basically been indistinguishable from the average film that DC animation has been churning out. Luckily, that was not the case. I’m not saying that the film is completely tame as some necks are still broken and people are shot left and right, but the film never dwells on the violence. It never pauses to remind us how dark and depressing the environment is. The film is very fast paced so despite all this, it tends to actually be a pretty uplifting film that keeps you energized. Fun is still the name of the game after all and this film knew how to achieve the perfect balance. It’ll remind you why the Punisher is no hero, but at least you can still root for him as the lesser of two evils. The film could have easily made him go too far and then we’d have nobody to root for. (Black Widow I suppose, but the sub plots…nooooo)

That goes to why I found the Avengers to be a bit of a disappointment though. I wasn’t expecting them to do much, but it felt like they were just added for the kicks. They get the worst fight scenes in the entire film and the drop in animation quality is noticeable. Suddenly we have a lot of random CGI and compared to the smooth hand to hand fights, you’ll probably be wincing at this point. The designs for the Avengers also aren’t that good to be honest. I’m glad that the Hulk is immune to telepathy once again as that varies from movie to movie, but these guys didn’t need to be around. It’s retro to see anime Iron Man return, but please…lose the CGI. As it stands, the Avengers tried to steal the thunder from Punisher, but failed to do so.

The thing is, the scene had a lot of potential initially. When we see the beams of light descending down upon the villains, I was ready for an epic opener. Instead…it was the odd blend of CGI and hand drawn with vibrant colors that were not streamlined at all. Whatever the film was going for, it just didn’t work out for me and I’ll have to settle for a “better luck next time.” We do have the Toei Avengers show coming up though. I haven’t seen it yet, but the Dub version should be out someday.

I’m also giving the film 5 stars for the soundtrack. It was fast paced from start to finish and just about every theme was suitable for battle. If someone ever tells you that a film can’t have a great soundtrack if it’s just filled with mindless battle music over and over again, just show them this film. It suits every fight scene since the action is always fast and I was loving it. Easily the best Marvel animation in that regard, even taking out the Wolverine anime. (That still has an incredible theme song though)
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Overall, This product lived up to expectations as you can clearly see in the review. It was pure hype and downright awesome. The villains were basically original characters for the film, but they served their purpose as powerful villains. The established villains were the ones who could have used some work. I’m tempted to give this a 9, buuuuuuut the romance and the annoying kid keep me from giving it that score so it teccccccchnically loses to Ultimate Avengers. These are technicalities though and odds are that I’ll still be referring to this film as the best Marvel animated feature. Think of it as a recommendation that surpasses the actual quality of the product. The two weaknesses bring the film down just enough to lose the official star, but the film is so enjoyable otherwise that I can easily recommend it to anyone. It’s a shame that the Marvel anime features are now over, but maybe someday someone will bring it back. Until then…….back to Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider Man!

Overall 8/10