HTF DVD REVIEW: X-Men Volume Three (Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Neil Middlemiss, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer

    Nov 15, 2001
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    Neil Middlemiss

    X-Men Volume Three
    Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection

    Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
    Year: 1994-1995
    US Rating: TV Y7 FV
    Film Length: 345 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Audio: Dolby 2.0 Stereo, French and Spanish Language Tracks
    Subtitles: French and Spanish
    Release Date: September 15, 2009
    Review Date: September 13, 2009

    Note: Portions of this review appear in my X-Men: Volume 1&2 DVD reviews

    The Show: 4 out of 5

    Widely regarded as one of the very best television animated efforts (IGN recently ranked it as the “13th greatest animated show of all time” out of their list of 100), Marvel’s X-Men is classic comic-book hero fodder. It premiered on FOX Kids, Fox’s Saturday morning cartoon line-up, back when FOX television itself was still quite a fledgling entity. It was a ratings success and was welcome by long-time fans of the comic book by remaining relatively faithful to the characters and storylines appearing in the library of ‘X-Men’ comics.

    The X-Men world has exploded, building exponentially on the success experienced with the comic book and this animated series. In many ways, The X-Men film opened the gates for the waves of comic-book/Superhero films that have enjoyed a serious resurgence this decade. The films played around with the look of the key characters and borrowed some themes from the Volume One release of this show (and of course, from the original comic books), but managed to remain faithful to the core of the X-Men universe (though some would argue that part III failed in that endeavor). There is some issue with the recent X-Men Origins: Wolverine Film in how the backstory was represented, but opinions on that film agitate wildly depending on who you ask. But the world of mutants, where characters hold unique ‘abilities’ such as the ability to quickly heal, to control the weather, to read minds, to ‘borrow’ abilities and more, seems to hold a fascination with audiences beyond the core comic-book and superhero fan base.

    So what do we have in Volume Three? We get the excellent 4 part Dark Phoenix saga exploring the plight of Jean Grey as the more powerful alter-ego (admittedly, that’s not the best way to describe her), and the carnage and destruction she reaps upon the X-Men, and the universe. We also have the pleasure of the introduction of Nightcrawler, and the exciting two-parter which sees the death of Xavier at the hands of an assassin, and the time-bending resolution. This third volume continues the ever-expanding scope and scale of the X-Men show balanced with more intimate episodes that explore the relationship dynamics, even if similar ground is walked to nudge out new ground. The presentation of these episodes in airdate order allows the overall narrative arch of the series to make more sense, presenting the show with a little more cohesion.

    The surprising strength of the show comes from the more serious tone that threads through the episodes, even as the more easily enjoyed, simpler fun of pure carnage frequently plays out. Serious minded themes of prejudice, civil liberties and others can be found in this show and treated with some good writing (for a Saturday morning cartoon) and with a dedication to the source material which elevates this series beyond the typical.

    The regular characters, under the watchful and mindful guidance of Professor Xavier, that populate this series are Wolverine, Cyclops, Jubilee, Storm, Rogue, Beast, Gambit and Jean Grey, in addition to a swarm of other characters that pop-up throughout the series. The animation is representative of early 1990’s quality (not that great), though the styling and often inventiveness employed helps set it apart from the throng of animated shows that have come since. Newer fans may initially be concerned at the lack of slick, clean and bright animation, but sticking around for a full episode will alleviate that concern and help them realize that the story is what is most important. Fans of the show, those who caught it when it first aired or who enjoyed the reruns (on UPN, ABC Family etc) will rejoice at this release (and its partner release, Volume 1).

    The presentation of the episodes in these volumes is out of sync with the season classifications – but necessarily so. To help understand which episodes from which season are available, I have created a list to line it all up below the review:

    The Episodes

    Disc One
    1. Savage Land, Strange Heart (Part 1)
    2. Savage Land, Strange Heart (Part 2)
    3. Obsession
    4. The Dark Phoenix (Part 1): Dazzled
    5. The Dark Phoenix (Part 2): The Inner Circle
    6. The Dark Phoenix (Part 3): The Dark Phoenix
    7. The Dark Phoenix (Part 4): The Fate of the Phoenix
    8. Mojo Vision

    Disc Two
    8. Cold Comfort
    9. Orphan’s End
    10. The Juggernaut Returns
    11. Nightcrawler
    12. Weapon X, Lies, And Videotape
    13. One Man’s Worth (Part 1)
    14. One Man’s Worth (Part 2)
    15. Courage

    The Video: 2.5 out of 5

    As is the case with the previous The X-Men Volumes, Volume 3 comes correctly framed in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Identical in quality to Volume 1, this isn’t the best this show could look; there is some dirt and debris noticeable and there is a pale feel to the colors that seems to pervade the episodes. The image is also soft and could have really popped with some time spent cleaning it up. The animation style isn’t slick either. Issues aside, the quality of these episodes on the DVD remind me of how other cartoons from the late 80’s and first half of the 1990’s looked when I watched them on broadcast television and doesn’t detract from the good stories being told. As fans have stated, these episodes could have come in a paper bag, just having them on DVD is enough!

    The Sound: 3 out of 5

    The sound is identical in quality to the previous Volumes released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, again spread over two discs that come with an English Dolby Digital Surround Sound in addition to both French and Spanish language tracks. As I stated in my previous reviews, the surrounds don’t get much action at all as it is primarily front focused. The sound isn’t crisp, isn’t always clear but does ok for the experience. Again, a remastering would have made this show really come alive, but the audio is faithful to the original experience.

    The Extras: 0 out of 5

    No Extras, No Stars

    Final Thoughts

    I continue to both enjoy and be impressed with the X-Men animated show releases. With the recent acquisition of Marvel by the Disney Empire, some may question what the future holds for the magnificent Marvel library of characters. I would say, though, that the Buena Vista releasing arm of Disney is a promising sign that the house of mouse may understand the importance of the Marvel property to the fans. Time will of course tell.

    Fans of the show should feel confident in picking up this set (and Volume 4 – review coming soon) on Tuesday if your preorders are not already in. Enjoy!

    Overall Score - 4 out of 5

    Neil Middlemiss
    Kernersville, NC

    X-Men Available Episodes: Volumes One – Four.

    Volume One - Disc One
    Season One - 1.Night of the Sentinels (Part 1)
    Season One - 2.Night of the Sentinels (Part 2)
    Season One - 3.Enter Magneto
    Season One - 4.Deadly Reunions
    Season One - 5.Captive Hearts
    Season One - 6.Cold Vengeance
    Season One - 7.Slave Island
    Season One - 8.The Unstoppable Juggernaut

    Volume One - Disc Two
    Season One - 9.The Cure
    Season One - 10.Come The Apocalypse
    Season One - 11.Days Of Future Past (Part 1)
    Season One - 12.Days Of Future Past (Part 2)
    Season One - 13.The Final Decision
    Season Two - 14.Till Death Do Us Part (Part 1)
    Season Two - 15.Till Death Do Us Part (Part 2)
    Season Two - 16.Whatever It Takes

    Volume Two - Disc One
    Season Two - 1.Red Dawn
    Season Two - 2.Repo Man
    Season Two - 3.X-Ternally Yours
    Season Two - 4.Time Fugitives (Part 1)
    Season Two - 5.Time Fugitives (Part 2)
    Season Two - 6.A Rogue's Tale
    Season Two - 7.Beauty & The Beast
    Season Two - 8.Mojo Vision

    Volume Two - Disc Two
    Season Two - 9.Reunion (Part 1)
    Season Two - 10.Reunion (Part 2)
    Season Three - 11.Out of the Past (Part 1)
    Season Three - 12.Out of the Past (Part 2)
    Season Three - 13.The Phoenix Saga (Part 1): Sacrifice
    Season Three - 14.The Phoenix Saga (Part 2): The Dark Shroud
    Season Three - 15.The Phoenix Saga (Part 3): Cry of the Banshee
    Season Three - 16.The Phoenix Saga (Part 4): The Starjammers
    Season Three - 17.The Phoenix Saga (Part 5): Child of Light

    Volume Three - Disc One
    Season Three - 1. Savage Land, Strange Heart (Part 1)
    Season Three - 2. Savage Land, Strange Heart (Part 2)
    Season Three - 3. Obsession
    Season Three - 4. The Dark Phoenix (Part 1): Dazzled
    Season Three - 5. The Dark Phoenix (Part 2): The Inner Circle
    Season Three - 6. The Dark Phoenix (Part 3): The Dark Phoenix
    Season Three - 7. The Dark Phoenix (Part 4): The Fate of the Phoenix

    Volume Three - Disc Two
    Season Three - 8. Cold Comfort
    Season Three - 9. Orphan’s End
    Season Three - 10. The Juggernaut Returns
    Season Four - 11. Nightcrawler
    Season Four - 12. Weapon X, Lies, And Videotape
    Season Four - 13. One Man’s Worth (Part 1)
    Season Four - 14. One Man’s Worth (Part 2)
    Season Three - 15. Courage

    Volume Four – Disc One

    Season Four - 1: Proteus (Part 1)
    Season Four - 2: Proteus (Part 2)
    Season Three - 3: Sanctuary (Part 1)
    Season Three - 4: Sanctuary (Part 2)
    Season Four - 5: Beyond Good and Evil (Part 1)
    Season Four - 6: Beyond Good and Evil (Part 2)
    Season Four - 7: Beyond Good and Evil (Part 3)
    Season Four - 8: Beyond Good and Evil (Part 4)

    Volume Four – Disc Two
    Season Four - 9: Have Yourself A Morlock Little X-Mas
    Season Four - 10: The Lotus and the Steel
    Season Three - 11: Love in Vain
    Season Three - 12: Secrets, Not Long Buried
    Season Three - 13: Xavier Remembers
    Season Four - 14: Family Ties


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