Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Generation X (1996)

Once upon a time I was young. I know, it's terribly shocking to learn, but it is true. And during my youth there was a comic book series that I held in high regard. A series that I followed with devotion and love. That comic series was Generation X. It was a spin-off of the X-Men comics, featuring a young cast of mostly new characters who were meant to be the next generation of X-Men. That's a pretty cool concept when you get right down to it, which makes you wonder why it took them so long to do it?

Oh wait...

Yeah, so the concept really wasn't all that new. The whole "young mutants being trained to be the mutant heroes of tomorrow" formula was actually done three times prior to Generation X in the form of the new Mutants, the Hellions, and X-Force. The X-Men themselves started out as teenagers being trained to be heroes, so yeah it's been done a bit. So, what set Generation X apart from these other teams/concepts? Well, it was set in the 90's, which meant it dealt with characters who I actually identified with, as I was a kid going through things in that time frame. It also had a character who shared a name (and nickname) with one of my best friends. I don't know how to explain it, I just gravitated towards this series. It just dropped at the right time, I suppose. The creators of the comic gave birth to some really interesting characters too, including Husk and Chamber (who are still two of my favourite characters) who developed an on/off relationship through the series. It also featured Jubilee, because they knew kids would recognize her from the cartoon. It was a solid comic.

At least it was before the wrong writer came in & shat all over it, leading to its cancellation.
That may not be completely fair though, as a lot of X-books got canned. These also were books that were drastically altered to be more EDGYYYYY and SRSSSSSS. Good job with that, Marvel. But the characters lived on, with Chamber joining the X-Men proper immediately afterward and many of the others popping up too (except for two who got killed for cheap shock value, because that happens a lot now). Jubilee is even back with the X-Men now, which is cool. Also she's a vampire. Comics can be strange. But not as strange as film adaptions of comics can be, as those can often go so far off the rails that you find yourself struggling to stifle your screams. Before Fox decided to throw the X-Men into black leather fetich outfits, they tried giving the teens of Generation X a chance. Notice how you don't know much about this film? Get ready to find out why as we dissect Fox's Generation X television movie.

How bad could it really be...?
The film opens with an explanation of what mutation is in the form of showing the actual definition, because Fox is under the impression that we're all idiots. Although, judging by the terrible movies that actually do well in theaters, they may be right in that assumption. From that we then switch to a shot of some brain surgery, which honestly seems like something I might need after watching this movie. But Emma Frost bursts in to save the poor guy from getting his brain juiced by Matt Frewer. And the victim...immediately gets arrested for being an unregistered mutant. We're going this way, are we? God, I miss drinking. Anyway, because we're down this rather stupid path, something else stupid happens, as they don't also arrest the asshole mad scientist because it's apparently perfectly fine to cut people up if they're unregistered mutants. Because that makes sense.

I'm betting they're really just big Max Headroom fans and are willing to let him off based on that.
But he does get fired, which is totally a reasonable punishment for trying to saw open a kid's head against his will, right? But Emma thinks he deserves harsher treatment and then she threatens him...with bad weather powers? Wait, do they think Emma is Storm now? What the fuck, Fox? You were running a cartoon based on the X-Men at the time which featured Storm, yet you can't even get this right? Is it because her last name is Frost? In that case, why not ice powers? I don't know, this is stupid, let's move on to something less stupid.

God dammit, I said LESS STUPID!
Yes, our immediate next scene is set 5 years later and shows Skin bidding his family goodbye, as he's leaving to go to Xavier's school. As he's being driven away, his sister refuses to let go of his hand and his arm stretches out in what looks like a very painful manner. There are so many problems with this whole scene. Getting around the fact that Angelo's family are next shown in the comics, or the fact that he was initially shown to have sagging skin in places due to his powers, or even the fact that he's grey in the comics...his bones can't stretch. He's not Mr. Fantastic, for fuck's sake. He's a young mutant who has extra skin that he can control. His sister just stretched his whole fucking arm, which seems to visibly cause him pain. And I can believe that too, as it would break his arm. But then we have this nice shot of her smiling as she breaks his arm, thus showing she's a sadistic bitch.

"Your pain brings me pleasure."
So, after that bit of stupid, we go back to our villain who is explaining to his new boss that he's got a magical machine that allows him to enter people's dreams and insert ads, which is a plan that finally took hold by the year 3000, as we saw in Futurama. We then go to an arcade where we see various kids playing games and smoking and doing edgy kids stuff. It's here we find Jubilee, who is so whitewashed here that I think Michael B. Jordan was cast as the Human Torch simply to make up for this. It seems she's running away from home, because first world problems, and she get's some subliminal messages from the villain while playing Virtua Fighter.

And by "subliminal" I mean his disembodied head materializes in the game like he's the magic mirror.
If I were drinking every time this movie made my head hurt, I would have alcohol poisoning by the end of this review. More stupidity abounds, she fries the game, some other things about registration happen, blah blah blah. Let's try and do this quickly because I fear a aneurism is forming in my brain. If I get some things wrong, keep in mind I am doing this mostly from memory and also that this movie is awful so you shouldn't really care. Emma Frost and Banshee save her from getting sent to a mutant death camp where the only watersports she'll be taking part in likely involve guards pissing on the inmates. She ends up going to the school along with Skin, Matt Frewer does some more evil dream stuff, because he's evil and the only talented/entertaining person in the movie.

"I'm only here to make sure you keep this piece of shit on until the very end."
His boss starts to get the impression that he might be a huge fucking nut. Real quick on the draw there, aren't you, guy? Then we find ourselves at the school, which is about as sparsely populated as it is in the comics. We meet the cast of mutants such as M, Mondo, Buff, and Refrax. Notice how Husk and Chamber are missing? Yeah, that's because Fox didn't feel like trying to make their powers work on the budget they had, thus we got two shitty characters (Buff and Refrax) who do not resemble them in any way.

I feel like I'm looking at the cast of a Saved by the Bell clone.

We also do not have Synch, because I guess we can only have so many non-white guys in one television movie before the executives get uncomfortable. It doesn't matter, the other students seem to be assholes, Jubilee says fuck a lot (because it's edgy, remember?) and Matt Frewer starts invading their dreams. Some commentary about racism happens (I think?) and we get a lot more stupid piled onto the pile of what has come before. Things happen, they beat the bad guy, he becomes a vegetable, and Buff ends up modelling the uniform from the comics because they wanted to toss one bit of accuracy in here.

Funny that the shitty tv movie has more accuracy in the costume department than the big budget films did.
If it seems like I rushed through this movie's plot description, it's because I did. It has a really dumb plot and it's a really bad movie. It's so bad that I really found myself struggling to even try reviewing it as I initially found myself writing the work "fuck" over and over again. The only entertaining bit of the entire film is watching Matt Frewer ham it up as the villain. Outside of him, the movie is full of bad casting, nearly nonexistent characterization, failed attempts at drama, and just serves to make comics look goofier than they actually are.

Seriously though, the comic was really cool. Just look at it.
This movie reflects a lot of the problems Fox as a company has when it comes to taking comic characters and putting them on film. It doesn't try to treat the idea serious enough, instead giving a lackluster effort in an attempt to possibly crank out a cheap tv show. The 1960s Batman show was more respectful and accurate, for fuck's sake. And that show is considered a beloved classic, whereas this movie is a forgotten relic which only serves to highlight the stupidity of executives trying to make a comic based thing happen in all the wrong ways. Because of this movie, Generation X will likely only be remembered by fans of the comics and never get a chance to make it as a film again. That's probably for the best too, considering the fact that Fox still owns the rights to all things X-Men. One day I may revisit this piece of shit, but for now I am bailing out before I end up falling off the wagon. So, until Chamber replaces Wolverine as the most used character in Marvel Comics, I'll be here trying to repress all memory of this movie's existence. Later days, bleeders.

Turn around, bright eyes.

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