Lionsgate // 2009 // 110 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // May 4th, 2010
The truth is unveiled as the X-Men unite to save the world...
Though I'm a big X-Men fan, I was not crazy about the '90s-era X-Men kid-targeted animated series that ran on Fox. And though I heard good things about the 2009 reboot series Wolverine and The X-Men, I never watched it when it aired. That means I was dropping right into the middle of the series when I sat down to watch Wolverine and The X-Men: Revelation, the fifth volume in the ongoing DVD release of the series from Lionsgate. Clearly modeled after the excellent Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons from DC, Wolverine and The X-Men takes a more mature, more faithful approach to the characters and, as such, is one of the better treatments of the comic book property we've seen. It's not as good as the Justice League series -- the writing isn't as strong, the animation is cruder and the characterization weaker -- but that's setting a pretty high standard.
The five episodes included on Wolverine and the X-Men: Revelation are:
Angel butts heads with his father regarding the mutant cure; when he's injured, he receives a tempting offer from the evil Mr. Sinister.
Cyclops and Emma Frost battle with the Juggernaut as Cyclops revisits a number of memories, from his meeting with Professor X to the formation of the X-Men to his relationship with Jean Grey.
As the X-Men begin to learn the truth about what caused the destruction of Genosha, Marrow bonds with a reprogrammed Sentinel she calls Rover.
"Aces and Eights"
The mutant Gambit is sent on a mission to steal Magneto's helmet for Senator Kelly, while Wolverine and Nightcrawler head off to Genosha to try and stop him.
"Shades of Grey"
Emma Frost and Cyclops stage a hospital rescue to bring back and amnesic Jean Grey, but run into Archangel, still doing the bidding of Mr. Sinister.
You have to view Wolverine and The X-Men: Revelation as the continuation in a series, not as a standalone set. If you haven't been keeping up with the series (which I have not), you're likely to be lost as to what's going on (unless you're familiar with the comic book, which, thankfully, I am). Revelation is actually the fifth volume in the Wolverine and The X-Men series; why Lionsgate couldn't just release the first -- and it looks like only -- season in one complete package, I cannot say. The episodes only sort of relate to one another -- the Archangel story bookends the collection, while the Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix saga is the spine that runs throughout. There's a good deal of effort in the series to keep continuity with the X-Men films (including slavishly mimicking the voices of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Alan Cumming and Kelsey Grammer), which is a little unfortunate. Still, there's a lot to like about Wolverine and The X-Men, terrible title aside. I like the nod to the classic X-Men in "Breakdown," old-school costumes and all. I like the willingness to explore less-familiar (though sometimes less interesting, too) characters like Bishop and Marrow. It's a mostly-mature, respectful treatment of the comic, more likely to appeal to adult fans than to kids, who may find the series a little on the slow and talky side. That's not such a bad thing.
This five-episode collection comes to DVD courtesy of Lionsgate, and the package is decent but far from great. The series is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer of 1.78:1, with bold colors and a pretty strong image overall; some compression was noticeable at times, and there were moments where the image was softer than I might like (particularly around the borders), but there wasn't anything to distract from ones enjoyment of the show. The 5.1 surround audio mix is bold for an animated series -- at times, in fact, it's too bold. I found myself having to turn up the volume to hear to the dialogue, only to get my ass kicked every time one of the action scenes started. It's a strong mix, but I wish it had been balanced a little better.
Producer Craig Kyle and writers Greg Johnson and Chris Yost provide commentary over each of the five episodes included. The three demonstrate an obvious enthusiasm for the show and the property and their talks rarely pause for a breath, but there isn't a whole lot of substance here. They talk a lot about what's happening on screen and spell out some motivations that can easily be inferred; still, the commentaries are energetic and good-natured enough to be enjoyable if not exactly required listening.
Though I liked Wolverine and The X-Men: Revelation and found it to be one of the best incarnations of one of my favorite comics ever to hit the screen (certainly the best animated version, at any rate), I'm not sure I can recommend purchasing the disc. The way that Lionsgate has chosen to break up one season's worth of television into six individual releases is disappointing, particularly as the episodes included here don't always relate to one another (though they do relate to the overall story as a whole). If the studio ever sees fit to release an entire Season One collection, I'd say pick it up quick. The series is good, but Revelation has a hard time standing on its own.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site