Monday, July 23, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Generation X

Generation X is a 1996 made-for-TV movie that originally aired on FOX. A slightly different version aired in the UK.
Generation X
For this TV movie the network used some characters from the Generation X comic books. Emma Frost and Banshee are the heads of the Xavier School for Gifted Children (although they never mention who this Xavier fella is...). Jubilee and Skin are the main characters, new to the school. Mondo and M are the other characters used from the comics. Refrax and Buff are two new characters. Buff is a girl who's embarrassed by her big muscles. Refrax is a mutant who's vision powers have yet to develop.

Probably because the property rights were unavailable, the X-Men are never mentioned (although an X-Men video game is shown in the background once!). The mansion used is the exact same mansion used in the X-Men films which might lead some to speculate a continuity connection... perhaps Generation X happens sometime in the future after X-Men 3? Throughout the episode mutant registration and mutant terrorism laws are cited... probable results from the fallout of X-Men 3. Remember, they both were made by FOX.

But because the issue of "Where are the X-Men is never addressed?" it hangs in the air and adds to the overall odd feeling this movie has. And it is odd. Very odd. It starts with a *yawn* dictionary definition of mutation. When you start with a dictionary definition, you know you're in for a *yawn* dull ride. Oddly, there's a scene where Jubilee, a teenage girl, has to take off all of her clothes in front of Emma, Banshee, and Skin. The scene uncomfortably lingers far too long.

At times the script tries to be funny but it just falls flat. For example, Emma Frost causes guards to see her and Banshee as "Officer Hootie and Offier Blowfish," a reference to the band "Hootie and the Blowfish." Most of its humor just comes across as crass and crude such as a "beaver" comment and a fart gag that is just plain stupid. In the British version, Jubilee shockingly uses the F-word twice with the S-word in one scene. This comes across as strange because most of the rest of the film uses almost no swear words.

The plot is almost incomprehensible and has very little to do with mutants. The bad guy is the same actor who played Max Headroom and his over-the-top performance makes him seem like a ridiculous lunatic, not a viable threat. Somehow, he wants to use a machine or mutant genes to force people to buy products by invading their dreams. At one point, when all of Generation X is fighting him, you wonder why they need superpowers at all to take on a scrawny scientist with no powers. Why didn't they use one of the many great X-Men or Generation X villains?

Now, what do you want to see more than anything in a big, team mutant movie? Superpowers being used, right? Well, perhaps for budget reasons, this film has almost none. Some of the mutants like M and Buff require very little SFX to demonstrate their abilities but they rarely do. What's more, their mutant powers are almost completely useless. Eye powers that don't work, painful skin stretching, random light bursts... all worthless.

There are a few comic book continuity references that fans will appreciate such as a Hellions reference.

Perhaps the best thing about this dud is the interaction of the teens. Somehow, they manage to create a few realistic moments when the teens are struggling to relate to one another and other teenagers from the nearby town.

As a first attempt at a big mutant team movie, Genration X failed. But perhaps it laid just enough groundwork that Marvel and FOX were able to learn from their mistakes when they took a stab at the X-Men movie.

1LR REVIEW - 6 out of 20! It's a Failure!


  1. The guy from Max Headroom is Matt Frewer, who has been in dozens of sci-fi/fantasy TV series and movies, and he exhudes oddness. Recently saw him in recurring role in Eureka (seasons 1 and 2) and as the old, and very strange, white knight in the "Alice" miniseries.

    1. Yeah... it seemed to me that in this role in particular he considered the "comic book villain" role as a chance to be as extremely, ridiculously over the top as possible. It made the entire threat of the villain a laugh but not in a funny way.