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

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#1 of 1 Neil Middlemiss

Neil Middlemiss


  • 2,534 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2001

Posted September 15 2009 - 12:59 PM

(Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection)

Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Year: 1994-1995
US Rating: TV Y7 FV
Film Length: 322 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 15, 2009
Note: Portions of this review appear in my X-Men: Volume 1, 2 & 3 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 four? This volume contains episodes from a clearly maturing show. While that maturation was noticeable even in Volume One, the collection of episodes here even more successfully cover serious, more commonly dramatic storylines immersed in the carnage and destruction we expect from our comic book heroes.  The two part opener (Proteus parts 1 & 2) is an excellent example. Themes of fatherhood, responsibility, ethics, and purpose are explored, while the visual, action focused destruction -- as yet another super-powered person or entity goes on the rampage – keeps it all moving.  The real gem in this volume is the four-part ‘Beyond Good and Evil’, a time-travel extravaganza that has Apocalypse, in the 39th Century stealing a time device, falling into the axis of time and sending ripples through history. Good stuff!
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.
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. Proteus (Part 1)
2. Proteus (Part 2)
3. Sanctuary (Part 1)
4. Sanctuary (Part 2)
5. Beyond Good and Evil (Part 1)
6. Beyond Good and Evil (Part 2)
7. Beyond Good and Evil (Part 3)
8. Beyond Good and Evil (Part 4)
Disc Two
9. Have Yourself A Morlock Little X-Mas
10. The Lotus And The Steel
11. Love In Vain
12. Secrets, Not Long Remembered
13. Xavier Remembers
14. Family Ties
The Video: 3 out of 5
Perhaps it’s me, but the video presentation of Volume 4 appears better than the previous volumes. Presented, as it should be, in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the show seems just a little brighter than the previous sets. The image is still soft and would have benefited from some cleaning, but I think either the production techniques improved, the storage of the source material was better, or I was more absorbed in the episodes more that it didn’t strike me as much.
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.
With what seems likely to be one last volume to go, and with the prices generally low enough to make snapping these up a cinch, I recommend this volume, and the three previous volumes, for every true X-Men fan.
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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