Ben 10 seems to be the Batman of animated shows, not that they have anything in common with their plots or characters but by how many times the character of Ben Tennyson has been in movies and shows and then rebooted all over again. It’s a fun series, and the few movies I’ve seen I’ve liked them, but the one major complaint I have towards the character and series is how repetitive it all is. Sure, this is a problem in most children’s shows, and the issue bleeds into shows for adults, but with all the repetition it raises the question of why bother rebooting, rebranding or doing it all over again if all you’re going to do is retread the same material. It’s because of the recycled plots and the all-too-familiar story trends that I was hesitant about bothering to review kids’ series. So what does Ben 10 Versus the Universe- the Movie bring to the table? Well, for the series it does present a new narrative. For those even slightly familiar with the Marvel films you’ll see a familiar trope, but for the most part it works here.
The movie opens up with Ben having to face a super-villain who has kidnapped his family and has plans to destroy the world. Ben is bored with dealing with the cookie-cutter villains with the same diabolical plans and is up for a real challenge. Despite being overly cocky and nearly getting his family hurt, Ben still sees his victory as too easy. It’s not until the Earth is put in danger with an asteroid that seems to be on a collision course with the planet that Ben sees he may finally have a challenge. Unfortunately for Ben, after launching himself into space he makes a mistake that causes him to miss confronting the asteroid and even worse is captured by an alien force that has confused Ben for a super-villain and put on trial for crimes he didn’t commit.
It’s at this point the film borrows from the Spider-Man: Homecoming storyline where Ben has to realize he has to learn to be the hero without his “Omnitrix”, like when Peter had his suit taken away by Stark. But in Ben’s case it’s the alien who created the “Omnitrix”. There was a lot of potential here; I was hoping we’d get some real back-story on the device and what it can do to people, the consequences of having all that power in one device. We sort of get that, but it’s so generic that it just feels like a squandered opportunity. Back on Earth, Ben’s family finds Kevin 11, who has made his own “Omnitrix”, and it is glitching on him, causing him to shift change uncontrollably. Grandpa Max is up for helping Kevin fix his device (despite Kevin being a villain to Ben for some time). Its here we also meet the show’s real villain, and it’s Kevin taking the lead at trying to be the big hero. Oddly enough it was this storyline I enjoyed the most, and it does present some new storylines and potential to keep this franchise going.
At the end of the day the movie was entertaining and runs about the length of four episodes. While the movie has its moments, the problem is the movie is rather forgettable and just had me missing the show when it first came along and felt fresh and fun. Now this just feels forced, as though they are just fulfilling a contract rather than telling stories they genuinely want to tell. If your kids are a fan of the series, I figure this is one to add to the collection, if this is something to watch and introduce yourself to the series, I’d recommend checking out the actual series or one of the earlier films.