STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $11.99
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 67 minutes

  • Behind-the Scenes: Ben 10 – The Movie
  • Behind-the Scenes: The Omnitrix / Eon
  • Behind-the Scenes: The Movie According to Gwen
  • Live at the L.A. Premiere
  • Meet the Cast With Fried Dynamite

The Pitch

Turns out Steve Austin retired to an RV, became a plumber and has a grandson with the coolest Rolex in the known universe.

The Humans

Graham Phillips, Haley Ramm, Lee Majors, Christien Anholt, Robert Picardo.

The best way to beat the bad guy, kids?  Set his evil ass on fire, naturally…

The Nutshell

In this live-action adaptation of the popular cartoon, Ben Tennyson (Phillips) is a kid who found the Omnitrix, a wrist device that allows him to transform into any of ten aliens with super powers. He uses the power of the Omnitrix to fight alien menaces and had been on a summer road trip with his cousin, Gwen (Ramm) and Grandpa Max (Majors). Now he’s returned to his hometown of Bellwood to start school, a prospect he’s not looking forward to, given how much he’s enjoyed his time with Max and Gwen and the adventures he’s had with the Omnitrix. But his adventures aren’t over yet as the alien, Eon (Anholt), has reemerged after 200 years of captivity. He plans to use a device called the Hands of Armageddon to free his people from a time prison so that they can take over the world. And unfortunately for Ben, he needs the Omnitrix to make it happen.

“For show and tell today, I’ve brought Wildmutt.  Contrary to popular belief, he’s a feral alien, not a dog.  And it’s good that you’re all here because…well…he’s sort of hungry…”

The Lowdown

This was a surprising little adaptation in a couple of ways. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live-action adaptation of a cartoon so soon after its run, and certainly not one that wasn’t theatrical. Hell, when I claimed this title to review I thought it was just going to be a cartoon telefilm. Secondly, Lee Majors makes an appearance. I’ve grown up on his TV shows and am always glad to see him working. He’s made a successful transition to character work in the last 20 years or so and I like that he’s not afraid to ape his previous role as Steve Austin, which he’s done several times. Here, though he plays it straight as Grandpa Max and really looks the part with the scruffiness and bad Hawaiian shirt going. Also, for a telefilm adaptation of a cartoon, this movie has some surprisingly good special effects. Lastly? Ole Alex Winter sat in the big chair on this one.

Good thing Gray Matter has brains.  He’s going to need them to get away from the fat kid who’s approaching him thinking he’s a gingerbread man…

This is a movie for kids that is actually watchable, and stars Graham Phillips and Haley Ramm embodied the cartoon characters nicely. The aliens that Ben turns into here, only four of the ten (Heatblast, Gray Matter, Diamond Head and Wildmutt), are nicely rendered via CGI also. The story isn’t bad, as Eon (Anholt) arrives in town to facilitate the release of his people from a time prison via an ancient artifact called the Hands of Armageddon. Ben has several encounters with him and along with Gwen and Max, discover that Max’s cadre of alien fighters called the Plumbers had tangled with him before. Ben also learns that damn near everyone in town is secretly a Plumber, including his principal, Mr. White (Picardo, light years away from either Eddie Quist or The Cowboy).

“So how do we beat this guy Eon, Grandpa?”
“I think you better consult Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury on this one, Ben.”
“Dude, come on, you weren’t even in that show…”

There’s also a B-story about Ben readjusting to school, and fighting the urge to let everyone know he’s the series of alien heroes that everyone has read about all summer. But he can’t resist the chance, as Gray Matter, to enact a little revenge against some school bullies and stuck up girls by hotwiring a pie machine, a hot dog rotisserie and soda taps in a restaurant.  Ben and Gwen also get involved in the school talent show and Ben has to keep his secret from his parents, who are hippie types who want to regard him as an equal rather than be his parents. The movie does devolve into Power Ranger territory at times when the Plumbers and Ben have to go against Eon’s minions, who are Puddy-looking cloaked figures. Other than that though, not too bad a watch, especially for kids. And at only 67 minutes, very easy to get through.

“Grandpa, it’s hopeless!  What are we gonna do?”
“Don’t worry, Oscar and Rudy will think of something.  If not, I’ve got Bigfoot patrolling the area.  Just be glad we’re not dealing with another Death Probe.”
“Uh, Grandpa…you forgot to take your meds again didn’t you…?”

The Package

As I mentioned earlier, the special effects in the film, for the most part, are fairly impressive given that the budget of this thing probably wasn’t more than a used Ford Pinto at the local lot. Sound-wise, there’s optional English 5.1 Surround and English 2.0 Stereo, as well as Esnglish, French and Spanish subtitles. In the features area, there’s three EPK-worthy behind the scnes featurettes: Ben 10 – The Movie, The Omnitrix / Eon and The Movie According to Gwen that total about 5.5 minutes. Live at the L.A. Premiere is a fairly worthless 90 seconds (with exceptionally bad camera work by the way) of director Alex Winter addressing the cast and crew at the premiere screening. Finally, Meet the Cast With Fried Dynamite is a seven-minute series of interviews with TV kid personality Blake from some show called Fried Dynamite (I’m about 25 years past the demographic for this show I imagine). The most glaring interview omission? Uh, hello? Where’s Mr. Majors?

6.0 out of 10