10 March 2014

TV DVD Set Review: "X-Men": Volume One

Rated: TV-Y7 for fantasy violence
Starring: Cathal J. Dodd, Alyson Court, and Cedric Smith
Released: 1992 - 1993 (original Fox Kids premieres) / 2009 (DVD)
Synopsis: Jubilation Lee, aka Jubilee, has rejected her mutant powers all her life.  One day, these strange robots known as Sentinels try to capture her...but the X-Men save her life, and take her to Professor Xavier's center from mutants! Among the people she meets are quick-healing, large-clawed Wolverine; mind reader Jean Grey; super-intelligent, super-muscular, cobalt blue Beast, the literally untouchable Southern belle Rogue, and transformable Morph.  In this first volume, they prevent the world from an unthinkable future, attack an army of wanton robots, and take a trip to what appears to be a mutant-friendly island, but is instead something much more sinister.  It all starts here.

Artistic Merit

Plots: 4/5
I like a TV series better than a movie because it has a continuing story.  There are so many plot threads in just this first volume, it'd be nearly impossible to put them all into a two-hour film.  However, sometimes, there are story arcs that can go on a little too long, and that's how I feel about the last one.  It starts in the eleventh episode, and by the sixteenth--and last--one, it's still not resolved; one would guess that the next volume would finish it off.  I don't want to give away what it is, but the story arc is great; still, it doesn't need to go on that long.

Production Values: 3.5/5
The voice work is great; I think the voices here are better-suited to the characters than the ones in the live-action movies.  The soundtrack is good, but nothing special.  My one big problem was with the animation, which, though not half-bad, could have used some extra polish.  Maybe that will improve as the series continues.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
The X-Men look out for one another and for humankind in general; one of them even puts her life on the line for a child.  Even though many non-mutants are prejudiced against them, they still treat everyone with respect.  One mutant decides to obey the law and stay in jail, though he can easily escape.  Magneto also looks out for Xavier and his crew.

Sex: 3.5/5
Mostly limited to kissing, though there is a scene where Rogue seems to seduce a male mutant.  (Spoiler: It is actually another mutant who transformed into Rogue, and he does it because he knows that, if anyone touches Rogue, he or she will be rendered powerless.)

Nudity: 4/5
Shirtless guys are seen from time to time; however, the animation style makes it less sultry.

Language: 4.5/5
One h-word, and one misuse of God's name; though nothing by today's standards, a bit surprising for a kid's show from the '90's.

Violence: 3/5
The "fantasy violence" mentioned in the rating is quite present here.  The X-Men, other heroes, and the villains punch, kick, blast, and throw each other in all sorts of ways.  The good news is that there's no blood, though one scene does show a character with a nasty scratch on his body.

Drugs: 5/5

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 3.5/5
Some of the villains, especially the one from the last two or three episodes, could be a bit scary for some kids.  Also, a likable character dies near the start of the series.  (Spoiler: He is only thought to be dead, but comes back as a villain of sorts.)

Final Score: 3.5/5
I've been waiting a long time to see this.  Some friends of mine had been recommending the '90's X-Men cartoon for quite a while, and I had bought this first "volume" a while ago, but waited until I had the entire series--five volumes!--before I started watching it.  Though mostly good, I have to say I am still slightly disappointed.  Still, this was the inaugural season, and maybe things will improve in later volumes.

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