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Well, it's official. Ben 10 has now suffered Seasonal Rot, Jump the Shark AND AS AN EXTRA BONUS, ADORED BY THE NETWORK all at the same time. Now you'd expect a show like Ben to die out sometime, right? Amirite? Nope. They tacked on a poorly-made sequel derailing almost everyone and having too much filler. Worse, they're making a fourth one to stretch the franchise out longer than it should. Ben is—well, in this series, a dull 16 year old now with the head of a badly photoshopped boy and the body of the original Ben aged up. Gwen + Charmcaster look like mannequins, where in the first series they looked human. The romance between Gwen and Kevin is polarizing at best and drives the Gwen/Ben shippers out of the series, as well as many original fans who hate the omnipresence of it and the randomness of when it happened. All the personalities/voices drive me insane, it's like everyone just slept through the whole series and didn't care about bringing relative believability into the characters, while the Forever Knights were lame excuses for villains and were just used for filler despite being comic book geeks in armor. In short, stick to Ben 10 and ignore the rest—you'll get more out of it.
I was assured that this show would be Darker And Edgier than Ben 10, but it just came across as stupid. Ben 10 was far from perfect, but it was good. It was enjoyable. This show is not. It's as if they looked at the older show, removed everything that made it worth watching and replaced it with badly written romance and a bunch of cretins who are so different from their original characters that it doesn't really feel like a sequel series. It feels like a dumb imitation.
And don't talk to me about Growing The Beard. No Beard Was Grown. They shaved off whatever stubble was left. They where hit by an updraft while above the shark and just kept on accelerating.
When not pissing all over established canon with a smile on it's face... actually, that's all it seems to do. The only way to make all the Retcons in this show make sense compared to the original, you have to track down one of the creators' message boards and ask him directly. The mere fact that they needed to do this in order understand what the hell is going on says a lot. Not to mention the fact that many of his answers are some variation of "Maybe" or Outright lies.
Watch this show's Predecessor, and steer clear.
It's well-known by any Ben 10 fan by now that Alien Force is a controversial show. Even before it came up, the show already got criticisms from fans : they didn't like the new aliens' look, find Kevin switching sides ridiculous... I found that silly, and was ready to give the show a try. So I watched it anyway.
And honestly, I don't regret it.
The thing is this show gets, at least for the two first season, a much Darker And Edgier tone. I'll admit, I can imagine some old fans miss the humor from the original show. Still, I can't help but believe it was an improvement : the plot got more coherent, Ben got a good Character Development and became a much more likable character than the brat he was in the original show, and the aliens, while being for some not as impressive as the old ones, were still quite good. I know the original series fans feel like the show went for teen drama and things like that, but I disagree; to me, this show was a nice add to the Ben 10 franchise.
Now, I'll still get to the bad points, cause yeah, there ARE. Sadly, the story has less villains, as the Hightbreeds, the angatonist of season 1 and 2, are present for most of the story arc. It intended to correct this in later episodes, but only a few of the new villains (mainly Albedo and Darkstar) were actually as likable and original as the one in the first Ben 10. Also, while Ben got a good developpement, he sadly ended up overshadowing his teammate, Gwen and Kevin, who despite both possessing large potentials got mostly reduced to minor allies that always got beat up by the ennemies. Finally, an even more annoying point, the third season, apparently due to fans' pressure, attempted to go more light-hearted in order to calm them. The result was.... well, disappointing mostly.
While it was good to see some old villains coming back, Ben got turned back into an immature brat, which didn't make much sense when he was now 15 and made him look like a jerk. The coherent plot was given up for more fillers. While this season still had great moment such as its finale, the introduction of Rath and some others, it was the point where I started feeling disappointed. Though I keep hoping the show can get better eventually...
The Con of Rath... Well, after a series that was more than content to slap its predecessor's continuity in the face and generally be barely passable, I was expecting another badly-written episode with aliens voiced by Dee Bradley Baker acting like he has a cold. Baker's a great voice actor, but I can't help but feel he's a little overworked.
So the episode starts with Ben, Gwen and Kevin about to go to the beach, but they're interrupted by these marshmallow aliens, called Lewodans, who want them to take their crown prince to an enemy planet as a peace treaty. Sin ce they don't know what "peace treaty" means for the bad guy of the week, our heroes respond, However, the Lewodan prince ends up causing the Omnitrix to malfunction, causing Ben to turn into the new alien - Rath.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear one of my favorite voice actors, John Di Maggio, voicing this irate alien tiger with the personality of Hulk Hogan.
The episode basically had Rath, as violent and stupid as he is, picking fights with everybody - the Vreedles, an Incursion, and Vulkanus, specifically. One of the highlights is Rath calling Vulkanus "Baby-man," helped by John's always great voice acting.
The episode reaches its climax when they reach the planet of the Pantophages, and the king eats the Tiffin. Naturally, this pisses off Rath (like everything else), and it leans to a combination Crowning Moment Of Awesome and Crowning Moment Of Funny.
In conclusion, this is one of the precious, precious few episodes of Alien Force/Ultimate Alien that have the same fun feel of the original series. Rath is more than deserving of his Ensemble Darkhorse credibility, and any time he shows up, he can elevate the usual mediocrity of this show to actually being funny.
Ben 10: Alien Force season 2 was a major improvement, in my opinion. It had much better episodes and use of characters than the first season, and managed to wrap up the DN Aliens arc in a satisfying way (In my opinion). So with all that improvement, you would think that season 3 would be raisng the bar even higher, and hey they brought Vilgax, the series main villain back to bring his wrath to Earth. This is going to be awesome right?!
Vengeance of Vilgax does not improve on the show further, but rather sets it back. This episode embodies everything wrong about Alien Force, and is a massive disappointment. Alright, I will say this: the opening scene where Vilgax brutally murders the Galactic Enforcers is an excellent set up. It's brutal, impressive and it makes Vilgax threatening again. The main plot is that Vilgax is going to Earth to challenge Ben to MORAL KOMBAT!! for rule/destruction of Earth. It's a law that was used to stop planetary war (How that is any better is beyond me). Now naturally, this plot seems too simple. So, Ben, ego inflated by all his congratulations after the events of last season, tries to hack the Omnitrix because he has sadly gotten a case of "Teh Stupids", and winds up separating Chromastone, Way Big, Goop and Spider Monkey from his Onmitrix, and transforms Kevin's body into a stone/metal/crystal fusion.
This is all executed in a terrible fashion. The Omnitrix retrieval seems like pointless padding, and seems more like a fanservice excuse than anything (Look a the Spider Monkey and Goop fights and guess which fetish they were playing on). The fights for this part are really mediocre at best, and Gwen and Kevin have been turned into Worf clones.
But the biggest problem is Vilgax. Simply put, he is nothing, NOTHING, like the original character. He has a different personality, different abilities and a completely different appearence. He is now a crappy Darkseid clone (He blatantly copies Darkseids' Omega Beams) with some Sylar thrown in for about 2 minutes. And he contributes nothing. You could easily replace Vilgax with a Monster of the Week with the same agenda, and this episode would feel no different.
I could go on, but I think I will finish by saying that Vengeance of Vilgax is a huge failure. The new season will have a lot to make up for.
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