So, Cartoon Network has begun airing the brand new Fantastic Four animated series as a means to tie-in with the recent Fantastic Four live action feature films. Is it any good? Well, I wasnâ€™t thoroughly impressed with the first episode, but thereâ€™s a chance itâ€™ll grow on me once more characters and villains are introduced and the series begins to hit its stride.
The first episode aired, â€œTrial by Fireâ€, features a standard action cartoon plot done to death. Johnny Storm, after impulsively destroying numerous Kree sentry drones, is abducted by the Kree Empire and subjected to a trial with impending execution. Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Susan Storm (the Invisible Woman) and Ben Grim (the Thing) come to his defense, but Johnny loses the case anyway. The Fantastic Four is then sentenced to death by gladiatorial combat.
Yeah, the whole plotline of â€œalien race forces heroes to fight in arena combatâ€ is a pretty standard cartoon clichÃ© up there with a â€œshrinking episodeâ€. Just in recent memory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Ben 10 and Megas XLR have already been there and done that. So the whole story for â€œTrial by Fireâ€ is pretty bland.
The animation for the show is the typical â€œfake animeâ€ approach which gives the show a â€œTotally Spiesâ€ or â€œMartin Mysteryâ€-vibe. That is *not* a good thing. The lip-syncing is also pretty off, leaving a real disconnection between the emotion in the voice and the appearance of the character. I will say that, during the fight scenes, the animation definitely picked up. I liked Benâ€™s brief scrap with Ronin the Accuser, however short it was.
The voice acting is almost as bland as the story. None of the actors have any real â€œoomphâ€ to their voices and really just sound like theyâ€™re amateurs phoning it in. The Thingâ€™s voice was pretty good, though honestly, the Thing has always sounded the same in every Fantastic Four cartoon made since the 60â€™s. Johnnyâ€™s voice was especially annoying and I could hardly stand Sueâ€™s bitchy attitude through-out the episode. Johnny was exceptionally difficult to listen to when they got to the trite â€œI learned my lessonâ€ segment at the end of the episode.
The first episode really failed to impress me on most levels save for a few moments of nice animation and a couple of decent voices. I wonâ€™t judge the entire series based solely on the first episode, but I have to say, Fantastic Four is going to have to pick things up pretty soon if it wants to survive.