Review of Ben 10

Ben 10 (2005–2008)
10/10
The End Of A Glorious Era.
12 October 2014
The original Ben 10 series is one of the better Cartoon Network shows I can remember from recent years. In fact, its end coincided with the end of a glorious era of adventure-oriented animated shows that were smartly written and could be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. To summarize everything in two sentences, Ben 10 tells the story of a ten-year-old boy whose boring summer vacation with his grandpa and his cousin takes an exciting turn when he -- not quite by sheer luck -- gets his hands on the most powerful device in the universe, The Omnitrix. He now has the dream prize of every narcissistic bad guy out there and that's not a good thing, to put it mildly.

Where to start the praise from? I guess the animation art isn't too bad; it is great, as a matter of fact. The colors aren't too bright but of the right measure, and the scenery in the background always has a realistic feel which befittingly captures the vivid imagination of its talented writers. It's not too conspicuous but that's a good thing. An integral facet of every episode, it can be safely said.

As for the main characters, all of them are likable as well as relatable. Ben reminds the viewer of a more mischievous incarnation of their childhood self: a not-so-typical good-hearted douche bag with a penchant for adventures which at his age is understandable. Max is the perfect blend of a strict but caring grandpa who treasures whatever little time he gets to spend with his grandchildren. The man is dignity and warmth personified. Ben's cousin sister, Gwen, is a little obnoxious (I won't sugarcoat it) but as the show progresses you tend to start acknowledging her complementary role -- accepting her nerdy but interesting ways.

I absolutely love the villains, most of whom are given their own menacing angles and evil motivations. Vilgax, Enoch, Zombozo, Dr. Animo, Kevin -- all made invaluable contributions to the charged, tense atmosphere of the show. Hey, the hero is only as good as the villains he's up against and Ben 10 comprehends this as well as anything.

This review would probably feel incomplete if I didn't give a description of the very thing that's the root of this see-saw battle: the darn watch. The Omnitrix operates by attaching itself to the holder's DNA who can then morph into any available alien of his choice. Each alien has a unique ability, and it's said that the Omnitrix in total control can unleash an army strong enough to conquer the whole universe. Talk about the very definition of a crippling responsibility. The existence of extraterrestrial beings has always been a fascinating subject of discussion for me and maybe that's why I find the concept of Ben 10 engrossing.

Aside from the aspects I've mentioned, the show expertly examines simple but relevant themes of good vs evil, being there for your family, and respecting the perpetual and inexplicable powers of the the earth and the universe. With the advent of technology and the increasing cockiness of the human race, such issues are more important now than ever before. That's exactly why I feel that Ben's (man) judicious use of the powerful Omnitrix (technology) in the show is a truly commendable example to its viewers. The dark themes are presented in a palatable way. For instance, the masterful episode "The Last Laugh" is about confronting your inner fears/demons (do not miss this one, by the way).

Ben 10 also has fantastic voice acting. You can expect nothing but the highest level of quality from Tara Strong and co.

For me at least the Ben 10 series ended with Ben still a kid. The way I see it, the new series with a teenage Ben simply isn't the same; it just isn't. The great action sequences, witty dialog, and clever storytelling are a Ben 10 trademark and Alien Force has none of the exuberance that made Ben 10 awesome in the first place. All good things come to an end, I guess, but at least I'll always have those fond memories in my heart. You rule, Ben!
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