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Case Number 03058: Small Claims Court

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X-Men: The Legend Of Wolverine

Touchstone Pictures // 1992 // 130 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // June 27th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

Discover the truth of Wolverine's secret past

The Case

Disney continues its hack job on Marvel's animated properties, much in the same way Warner has been treating its own superhero series. Discovering yet another way to make a quick buck, Disney has capitalized on the release of each Marvel feature film—Spider-Man (Ultimate Villain Showdown, Return of the Green Goblin), Daredevil (Daredevil vs. Spider-man), and now X-Men (The Legend of Wolverine). This time around, they rummaged through five seasons of the popular Saban/Fox series and culled together five Wolverine focused tales, in an attempt to shed light on his mysterious backstory. While fans of the series might be happy to finally see episodes making it to DVD, don't get too excited. This convoluted collection doesn't achieve its objectives.

• "Out of the Past: Part One" (Original Air Date: 30 July 1994)
Written by Michael Edens. Directed by Larry Houston.
Lady Deathstrike and her Outback outlaws, The Reavers, are hunting down The Morlocks when they stumble upon an alien spacecraft buried deep beneath the streets of New York. When her adamantium nails are unable to pierce the ship's impenetrable hull, she lays a trap to draw Wolverine down into the sewers, where his claws can unlock the treasure that lies within.

• "Out of the Past: Part Two" (Original Air Date: 06 August 1994)
Written by Michael Edens. Directed by Larry Houston.
When the spacecraft turns out to be a Pandora's box housing a deadly alien prisoner, The Spirit Drinker, it's up to Wolverine, Gambit, Jubilee, and Lady Deathstrike to put aside their differences long enough to stop the creature before it reaches the surface.

• "Nightcrawler" (Original Air Date: 22 October 1994)
Written by Len Uhley. Directed by Larry Houston.
Fear strikes a small German village, with tales of a demon on the loose. With Rogue, Gambit, and Wolverine nearby on a ski trip, their investigation uncovers a tortured soul named Kurt Wagner, who also happens to be a mutant.

• "The Lotus and the Steel" (Original Air Date: 11 November 1995)
Written by Ted Pedersen & Francis Moss. Directed by Larry Houston.
A restless Wolverine returns to Japan and former teacher, Master Oku, to rebalance his human and feral personas. When a crime lord, Silver Samurai, begins shaking down the locals for protection money, Wolverine is forced to set aside his quest for tranquility in order to protect his adopted family.

• "The Final Decision" (Original Air Date: 27 March 1993)
Written by Mark Edward Edens.
Government agent Henry Peter Gyrich and scientist Dr. Lawrence Trask have reinitiated the Sentinel project, utilizing Master Mold to create a new army of mutant hunting robots. When the robots gain a mind of their own, the X-Men are forced to team up with Magneto to destroy Master Mold before his minions are able to carry out their mission—mutant genocide.

On the heels of Warner Brothers' phenomenal Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men debuted on Fox in October 1992 and ran for five seasons—a total of 76 episodes—before being put out to rerun pasture. Acclaimed by the hungry comic book faithful as being true to the original character designs, the writing and animation left something to be desired. Culling 30 years of comic book history into a cohesive series of 21-minute episodes was no easy task. They had to settle on a team of characters who A) were visually exciting, B) appealed to their target demographic (8-17 year olds), and C) would make excellent action figures. The lineup combined with some creative revisionist history both excited and irritated fans over the series' run. Yet, in the end, most would agree it was well worth the effort.

While Disney's claim that this collection sheds light on Wolverine's past, there are perhaps more relevant tales in the series that should have been included here. "Weapon X, Lies, and Videotape" delves deep into Logan's shattered psyche. "Old Soldiers" takes us back to WWII where Logan fought side-by-side with Captain America and Nick Fury. "Repo Man" shows Wolverine's days in Canada working with Alpha Flight. I won't argue that "Out of the Past" and "The Lotus and the Steel" contain valuable pieces of the puzzle. I just feel there's much more that was left out.

Presented in its original 1.33:1 televised aspect ratio, the transfer is only mediocre. The episodes look better than you'll see in many of the reruns, but nothing here is all that visually stimulating. The Dolby 2.0 audio track is serviceable, presented only in English with no optional subtitles. The action scenes were never meant to dazzle, at least not on par with a feature film. As for bonus features, there's a nice 15-minute conversation with legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont, father of the modern X-Men. The often-reclusive Claremont shares quite a bit about his days at the helm of Marvel's premier team title, something fans will certainly love to see. Next up, a five minute chat with Stan "The Man" Lee, the man behind the original X-Men. For those who know Stan, you've heard many of these stories before—but surprisingly they never get old. In an interesting feature, Chris Claremont provides a piecemeal commentary for each episode, interjecting once every five or ten minutes with bits of X-Men trivia, origins, character development, etcetera. If you've seen the episodes before, I would jump right over to this and skip the vanilla versions. The bonus episode, which I mentioned earlier, is technically a special feature, although I have no idea why it was packaged as such. Round out the disc with a gaggle of Disney studio trailers, and there you have it. X-Men: The Legend of Wolverine—interesting, but nothing innovative. Wake me when the Disney marketing execs wise up and release the entire collection. This court stands adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 76

Perp Profile

Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Animation
• Superheroes

Distinguishing Marks

• Interview with X-Men Scribe Chris Claremont
• Interview with X-Men Creator Stan Lee
• "The Power Behind the X" -- Trivia Commentary by Claremont
• "The Final Decision" -- Bonus Episode

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Big Cartoon Database
• Marvel Comics








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