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Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

by on September 27, 2010
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After competing with DC Animation’s straight-to-video efforts for a time, it seems Marvel Comics has changed up their strategy a bit, shifting to “motion comics,” a simpler form or animation that more or less tells the story on the TV screen through the comic panels. There is motion involved, but it’s simplistic-mouths moving, expressions changing, bodies leaping.

Marvel’s first effort, under the “Marvel Knights” banner, is “Astonishing X-Men: Gifted,” based off a series by Joss Whedon (who is directing the upcoming live-action “Avengers” film) and artist John Cassaday.

This story was adapted to less-than-rave reviews in Brett Ratner’s film “X-Men: The Last Stand,” where Dr. Kavita Rao unleashes on the world a “mutant cure,” which she suggests will eliminate the mutations that give the X-Men their powers and the rest of the world a reason to hate and fear them.

The X-Men team, comprised this outing of Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Emma Frost, and Kitty Pryde (this takes place after the death of Jean Grey, which is alluded to), are of course conflicted and angered by the development. Some want to summarily destroy the “cure,” while others are intrigued and perhaps willing to take it.

At the same time a dangerous alien adversary battles the team, and soon the X-Men start thinking the cure’s timing may not just coincide with the alien’s appearance.

While the motion comics take is an interesting and novel approach, as a standalone story it has its problems. There’s too much backstory missing for more casual fans (like me) who don’t read the comics. The story itself is fine, but in the home video format it doesn’t work as well given the serial nature of comic books. It’s somewhat light on action, heavier on intrigue, but much of it doesn’t come through again, because of the limitations of the format.

Beware also plopping the kids in front of this one: it’s not inherently sexual, but Cyclops and Emma Frost are in a relationship, and there are scenes of them kissing and laying in bed together, along with Frost making a reference to “seeing me naked.” There’s also a little blood. It’s PG-13 stuff certainly, but if you are conscientious of such things, use caution.

There are some cursory extras on the DVD, including the featurettes showing the producers, Marvel artists and the like discussing the characters for this incarnation, as well as trailers for 3 additional upcoming Marvel Knights motion comics series: “Spider Woman,” “Iron Man: Extremis” and “Black Panther.”

Film: 3 Yaps
Extras: 3 Yaps