Ben 10 is X-Men for kids. “PG-Men”, if you will.
A bunch of bored 10-year-olds find themselves endowed with shape-shifting superpowers (courtesy of a fancy wristband called the Omnitrix), and become part of an interstellar task force (called The Plumbers) that deals with the wholesome defeat of utterly evil beings. With great power comes great responsibility, and the main trio of Ben 10 (actually Tennyson), Gwen 10 (Ben’s cousin), and Kevin 11 (actually Levin) find themselves in moral quandaries (and loads of adventure), confronting issues of friendship, betrayal and confusing plot lines.
It’s among the most popular cartoons on TV—little wonder then that the series was fodder for two Cartoon Network movies last year, one of them live action. Ben 10: Alien Swarm, which premieres globally on Cartoon Network today, is the third movie and the second with actors. It’s an hour-long feature centred around the return of one of Ben’s old friends, Elena, who warns of a conspiracy headed by a hat-wearing figure (who looks like an out-of-shape gunslinger from a Stephen King novel). No one believes her save Ben, sparking off a series of events that keep the narrative afloat. Secrets are uncovered, and misconceptions sorted out. In between, there are some very nice visual effects, especially a swarm of pesky metallic bees. There are computers that talk and guns that make sci-fi noises. The word “nanotechnology” is used a lot.
Frenetic: The new Ben 10 films
The translation from cartoon to live actors means that the 10-year-old characters are now immaculately dressed teenagers who ride ultra-powerful bikes and cars with reckless abandon. The bounciness of the animated version is replaced instead with a gritty, grungy colour scheme. The flow of the film stutters due to some stilted dialogue delivery, but it’s largely fast-paced and action-packed. The story is fairly straightforward, and delivered in digestible chunks in between action sequences. All in all, it’s good, if silly, fun.
Ben 10: Alien Swarm premieres on Cartoon Network at 6pm today.