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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » X-Men: Evolution - Enemies Unveiled
X-Men: Evolution - Enemies Unveiled
Warner Bros. // Unrated // June 29, 2004
List Price: $14.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted July 20, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Program

The X-Men are Marvel's (and, arguably, all of comicdom's) most popular superhero team, which makes it so puzzling that, until 1992, they had absolutely no exposure outside of the comic books. Ever since 1974's Giant Size X-Men #1, this merry mélange of meticulous mutants has consistently remained the fan-favorite when it comes to superheropera at its slugfestive best.

Hmm. I seem to have invented two words in that last sentence. How positively spingent!

But back to my initial topic: the X-Men. Comic legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men in the early 1960s, ostensibly as yet another group of costumed heroes. Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl, and the mysterious Professor X represented a group of outcasts in the Marvel universe. They were genetic mutants, feared and shunned by general society yet retainers of powers and abilities that made them gods among men. They fought for equality, but they also protected humanity against evil mutants, represented by Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

You know, there was always one thing I never quite understood about the whole X-Men concept. In the Marvel Universe, mutants were shunned, persecuted, harassed, even hunted down and murdered. Yet the public seemed to adore "super-powered humans" like Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and, to a lesser extent, Spider-Man. I could never wrap my mind around the proper differences between the two. I understand the concept of genetic mutation just fine, but are you even going to begin to tell me that the Thing's DNA strands were closer to, say, Chuck Barris's, than Shadowcat's or Gambit's? Curious...

The X-Men was not one of Marvel's best-selling titles. In fact, it went on hiatus for years until 1974, in which writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum introduced a new gang of X-Men, featuring a rather politically correct cast of colorful new mutants from around the world: the popular Wolverine (Canada), the exotic Storm (Africa), the prideful Thunderbird (Native American), the proud and stoic Colossus (Soviet Union), the acrobatic Nightcrawler (Germany), the "Begorra"-sprouting Banshee (Ireland), and the pompous Sunfire (Japan). Soon writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne would take this group (substituting a few characters here and there) and create one of the most renowned runs on any comic title in the history of the medium, culminating in the legendary "Dark Phoenix Saga".

The X-Men were the kings of comics, but they barely appeared out of their comics until the 1992 animated series burst upon the scene. The show was, in retrospect, pretty average (especially in comparison with the infinitely superior Batman: The Animated Series which premiered the same year), but it was successful enough to introduce the team to enough young viewers that, by the time the 2000 feature film was released, the characters had ingrained themselves into popular consciousness (at least among youngsters, anyhow.)

X-Men: Evolution marked the return of Marvel's mutants to the small screen. The animated series skewers towards the younger X-Men fan, with simplistic plots, clean but rather uninspired animation, and shifts the focus from mutant paranoia and persecution to something of a superheroic high-school drama. It's almost like Xavier's Academy: 90210. Making the mutants "young and hip" might appeal to a younger, broader demographic, but it leeches away a lot of what make these characters so interesting. Plus, with the vast pantheon of X-characters available for the writers to use, why would they have to go ahead and create new ones (like the exceedingly dull and clichéd Spyke)? I know, I know... merchandising, licensing, royalties, etc. But what could have made for a fun, exciting series results in a completely serviceable, flashy but wholly unremarkable and unmemorable show. If anything, it made me yearn for the straight-ahead superheroics of the 1992 X-Men series.

X-Men: Evolution - Enemies Unveiled contains the following four episodes:

  • Joyride
  • Walk on the Wild Side
  • Operation Rebirth
  • Mindbender

The DVD

Video:

X-Men: Evolution - Enemies Unveliedis presented in its original, fullframe television aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer of the show seemed a little on the dark side, but overall the video looked quite crisp and vibrant. If anything, the transfer looked a tad too sharp; some noticeable jaggies and line noise here and there, but nothing excessive. Colors were rich and alive, and the transfer itself is clean and free of noise.

Audio:

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, with optional French and Spanish language soundtracks at your disposal. The audio is completely serviceable, with fine range and some active use of surround activity. Dialog levels could have been a tad stronger, but this is a minor complaint. When the action kicks in, the soundtrack responds with punch and volume.

Extras:

Meet The New Mutants runs slightly under four minutes, and this video segment provides a short introduction to all of the new students at Xavier's Academy. Behind the Brotherhood with Mystique is a similarly-minded two minute feature, in which Mystique introduces all of the members of her group. Wolverine's Trivia Challenge is a short trivia game to gauge the limits of your mutant knowledge. Finally, Family Favorites provides trailers for X-Men: Evolution Beginnings, X-Men: Powers Revealed "Pure X", Mucha Lucha: The Return of El Malefico , and Scooby Doo and the Loch Ness Monster .

Final Thoughts

I wasn't too impressed with X-Men: Evolution - Enemies Unveiled, but then again I'm not quite the target audience of this show. Still, just because a show is geared towards children doesn't mean that it (a) has to pander, and (b) it can't be good. Your show doesn't have to be "hip and fresh" if "cool and smart" are available. Alas. However, I suppose fans of the show would be pleased with this disc. The presentation is fine and the extras, while skimpy and rather simplistic, are nice. However, anyone looking for a compelling presentation of their favorite mutants would do best by rewatching the feature films.

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