Saturday, October 30, 2010

‘Ben 10’ evolves into a celeb hero

(Published Oct. 28, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Shape-shifting teen Ben Tennyson continues to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial and homegrown goons in the animated “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien” series. Ben now fights tougher, more relentless menaces that threaten him and his family using a new gadget that evolves his alien forms into their “ultimate” versions.

But one challenge he didn’t expect is becoming popular. In the episode “Fame,” a young fan gathers and posts evidence of Ben’s secret battles with different enemies online, so the teen hero has to deal with becoming an instant celebrity. Criticized by some for the destruction resulting from his fights, but beloved by his grateful and astonished fans, Ben is becoming more aware of his responsibilities.

The absence of a secret identity, however, brings the paparazzi and super-villains to his doorstep. In the episode “Hit ‘Em Where They Live,” Ben’s parents are stalked by three vicious foes. But their plans are thwarted resoundingly by Ben, his superpowered teen partners—his cousin Gwen and her boyfriend Kevin, and his grandfather Max.

Co-created by a group of mostly established comic book writers, the successful “Ben 10” initially centered on a 10-year-old Ben Tennyson; in “Ultimate Alien” the main character is now 16, tries to balance school and heroic duties, but still tries to have fun using his superpowers. In one of the lighter episodes, he discovers the folly of dividing himself into three beings (to simultaneously watch a movie, watch a friend’s tennis match and go on a mission).

“Ultimate Alien” introduces new characters, strikingly designed “ultimate” alien identities and the villainy of the enigmatic Aggregor. The show possesses a more serious tone, but its elaborate action sequences dazzle and the comic book drama makes it accessible.

“Ben 10: Ultimate Alien” airs Sundays, 10 a.m., on Cartoon Network. “Ben 10: Alien Force” airs Sundays, 6 p.m.

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