Lionsgate // 2010 // 68 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ike Oden (Retired) // September 1st, 2010
Unstable psychic Jean Grey (Jennifer Hale, Ben 10) is kidnapped by the White Queen, Emma Frost (Kari Walhgren, Aliens In The Attic), and a group of psychically endowed mutants known as the Inner Circle. Their villainous conspiracy to harness Jean's dangerous power of the Phoenix crosses hairs with Magneto's (Tom Kane, The Boondocks) own plot to stage a Sentinel attack on the mutant sanctuary nation of Genosha. Caught in the middle is Wolverine (Logan Blum, G.I. Joe: Resolute) and the X-Men, who are already attempting to stop an apocalyptic future their leader, Charles Xavier (Jim Ward, The Super Hero Squad Show) happens to have time traveled into. Can the clawed Canadian save Jean, Genosha, and the future of the world?
I didn't have any experience with Wolverine and the X-Men before screening the three episode Final Crisis Trilogy. As a longtime acquaintance with the universe of the X-Men, I didn't really have much of a problem, but if you haven't taken the time to either watch the preceding five DVD volumes or check out some of the comic mythology (Wikipedia is your friend) this DVD will prove useless to you.
The novelty of Wolverine and the X-Men asks: what if Wolverine became the leader of the X-Men? Rather than the straight laced Cyclops (Nolan North, Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths), who has widely dominated the comics as X-Man numero uno, we have the lone wolf, emotionally unstable, adamantium endowed Logan aka Wolverine. I mean, really, would you want someone prone to bouts of "berserker rage" (whatever the hell that is) leading you?
If ever there was a problem with this conceit, it's that Logan has long been about as much of a 'loner' as Batman -- that is to say, the guy's been apart of or reluctantly led more teams of superheroes than any other character in the mutant mythology simply because the character is so consistently popular. This lack of originality isn't meant to detract entirely from the show in question, but rather to highlight the fact that the cartoon doesn't run novelty alone.
Given the history of the character and the story arcs fashioned (a neat hybrid of the comic's Phoenix Saga as well as the Sentinel heavy Days of Future Past), it's impossible not to compare the series to its recent cinematic counterparts -- specifically X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. From strictly a storytelling level, Final Crisis Trilogy decimates the overblown blockbusters with nary a sweat broken. While the three episode storyline is littered with small appearances from minor X-Men heroes and villains, fan favorites like Bishop (Kevin Michael Richardson, Batman: Under the Red Hood) aren't thrown in to tease fans expectations, but rather push the story forward as believable characters.
Not only that, but Final Crisis takes an overblown, overdone comic arc like the Phoenix Saga and subverts viewer expectations at every corner. Much of this is due to the inclusion of Emma Frost, who, despite serving as busty eye candy (which seems excessive for all ages entertainment), brings a balanced sense of darkness and redemption that excellently counterbalances Logan's killer instincts. These sort of character foils sync well with the serialized format, making for sprawling relationships as deceitful and complex as any you'll find in the comics.
If the program has a tangible flaw, it's inconsistent voice acting, particularly from Wolverine actor Tom Blum. Fans have been treated to multiple incarnations of Logan by now, and while Blum certainly has the pipes for Wolverine's raspy voice, the actor sometimes overdoes it, going from an appropriate Clint Eastwood style whisper into a growl more fit for a strep-throat ridden Christian Bale on his fifth carton of cigarettes for the day. It's a minor gripe that levels out as the narrative pushes onward, but might alienate fans spoiled on the silky smooth pipes of Hugh Jackman (which don't always feel right either, but that's a subject for another review).
The animation isn't going to make you forget Studio Ghibli, but does the job well with some distinctive, (albeit blocky) character models that stray true to the roots of the characters. Each episode is jammed with enough Sentinel slicing action to keep Wolverine fans happy. DVD wise, we're given a robust, colorful transfer and a 5.1 sound mix that makes the package a notch or two above television quality. Extras wise, we're treated to a commentary from Marvel animation honchoes Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson, and Chris Yost for all three episodes. The conversations play more like Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes than your typical track, packed with discussion of comic mythology, self-deprecating jabs, and writer's room info. It might be a little rambling for some tastes, but is entertaining enough to make up for a lack of any other features (aside from a Trailer Gallery, which hardly counts).
Not guilty, but for God sakes Miss Frost, can we dress a little more family friendly next time?
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 68 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries