Warner Bros. // 2001 // 85 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 13th, 2004
It's Harry Potter meets Dawson's Creek meets Friends meets mutants! X-Men: Evolution tells the story of Professor X and his litter as they continue to fight for mutant rights while defending the planet against the forces of evil. Oh, and they're all hip teens.
Riding the wave of the success of the X-Men and X2: X-Men United (read: cashing in), Marvel unleashed this re-imagining of the X-Men mythos, by rendering the mutant-turned-superheroes as younger and cooler, dealing with all the trials and tribulations faced by normal kids with laser beam eyes and telekinesis.
The usual suspects front this series: Wolverine, older and more mature than his cronies here; Cyclops, the stud leader; Jean Grey, the red-hot redhead and object of Cyclops's cyclops; Nightcrawler, the freakish outcast, mostly relegated to slave labor; plus Storm, Rogue, Iceman, Shadowcat, and Jubilee. In addition, a few new faces join the team, including Spyke who, well, grows spikes.
These good guys must deal with the real threat of Magneto and the not-so-real threat of a rival school, headed by Mystique.
X-Men Evolution: Enemies Unveiled is a collection of four episodes from the cartoon series that ran from 2000 to 2003. Of the four episodes, two deal with the cheeseball soap opera themes of high school hooplah, and two take a heavier turn.
None, I'm afraid, are noteworthy in the least.
I did not enjoy this disc at all. I never caught this cartoon series, but judging from what I saw here, I'm pretty sure I didn't miss much. From what I remember, the early '90s X-Men cartoon series, with the kick-ass intro music, mightily dwarfs this incarnation.
What we have here is a watered-down She's All That X-Men, where the highest stakes seem to be who goes to the dance with whom. Without further ado, here's the rundown of the episodes:
Without any context, the episode opens with this mutant kid named Avalanche walking up to the X-mansion and requesting admittance to Xavier's School for Gifted Children. Apparently this kid's a ne'er-do-well, and everyone is reluctant to embrace him, except Xavier. Eventually, Avalanche falls in with some of the school's trouble-makers who develop the unsavory habit of stealing vehicles and destroying them (actions for which they are rarely disciplined.) The last straw is when the gang inexplicably steals the X-Men's supersonic jet (?!) and almost get shot down by the military.
Moral: Don't judge a person by his past. And highly advanced ultra-jets are easy to pilot.
"Walk on the Wild Side"
When Cyclops interferes with a bonding session between Jean Grey and some dopey kid named Magma, the girls of the academy decide to break free of the watchful eyes of the guys, and prove that they can take care of themselves! They hook up with some of the wild chicks at the other academy and embark on an all-night adventure of mischief and tomfoolery, not unlike that one Growing Pains episode where Ben and Mike drove all over town looking for glue for his science project. The girls eventually get into some trouble, but are able to kick some righteous butt, without the help of any guys thank you very much.
Moral: Girl power!
A little less Saved by the Bell, this Logan-centric episode deals with Wolverine's past and how it may affect the future. Captain America makes a guest appearance in Wolverine's flashbacks, as we learn what role the spiky-knuckled one played in the saga of the Super Soldier Serum. Magneto, however, is interested in more than nostalgia and seeks the serum to buff himself out.
Moral: Keep evil old guys away from the strength enhancers!
Jean Grey is not herself. After goofing around at a carnival she disappears, worrying all her fellow X-Men, especially Cyclops. But she soon reappears, and is obviously under the control of some other being. She batters around her cronies, before unleashing a dastardly villain whose intent is to bring about the resurrection of the mighty Apocalypse. The episode is the beginning of a story arc, and...well...that's it. There ain't nothing else.
Moral: Don't frickin' include episodes with cliffhangers that we'll never see the resolution to!
These episodes aren't terribly compelling. The animation is pretty hokey and rudimentary. The characters are drawn real tall and lanky, and, frankly, look awkward. Lacking is any of the mutants/humanity dynamics that drove the movies to such success. It's just typical, shallow cartoon plots, simply set against the backdrop of the X-Men universe.
Audio and video is all usual cartoon fare: full-frame and front-loaded stereo. The colors look solid enough, but the transfer doesn't add much in the digital format that TV didn't already do.
A decent amount of extras accompany the disc. "Meet the New Mutants" provides some back-story to the series, and profiles of the new mutant additions. "Behind the Brotherhood with Mystique" is expository as well, shedding light on the morally ambiguous rival school. Both of these featurettes should be viewed prior to the episodes to offer some sliver of context. Rounding out the disc is a trivia challenge and some previews.
One of the training sequences featured some of the younger X-students shooting metal discs out of the air with their powers. The thing is, these discs are serrated on the edge with scary looking steel teeth. Why? Do these have to be deadly projectiles for target practice? What exactly is the liability insurance on Xavier's school?
Just thought that was funny.
Hey, it's "Generation X-Men!" Get it?
Guilty for cheesin' up the X-Men. If this is the next evolutionary leap in the human species, I am not interested. Court adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Meet the New Mutants"
* "Behind the Brotherhood"
* Trivia game
* Review X-Men Evolution: Mutants Rising