Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where today we look back the X-Men’s first live action outing, 1996’s Generation X TV movie!
What’s The Plot?
Two new students at the Xavier Institute, Jubilee and Skin, run afoul of mad scientist Russell Tresh, a murderous megalomaniac who needs live mutant brains for his experiments in entering the dream dimension. Together with their fellow students – Mondo, M, Buff, and Refrax – and their teachers Emma Frost and Banshee, they end Tresh’s threat before he conquers the world!
Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?
As stated last week, this movie was one of three TV movies produced by Fox in the mid-90’s in an attempt to kick off a new science fiction TV series. Generation X and Doctor Who both aired in 1996, while Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD (chronicled last week in these very pages) aired in ’98. Gen X got the biggest push, as plenty of sweepstakes ads from old Marvel comics will attest (you could win a Virtua Fighter 3 arcade cabinet!) but none of them resulted in a series. When you watch them, it is easy to see why.
Five Reasons to See It
Matt Frewer, Max Headroom himself, as Russell Tresh. He’s like Jim Carey’s version of The Riddler, only hammier, and it manages to be glorious. In this kind of flick, it’s the person having the most fun that is the most fun to watch.
- Two comic book Gen X members, Husk (who rips off her skin to reveal different super skins underneath) and Chamber (whose powers render half his face and torso a firepit), were simply too expensive to adapt. They were replaced by Buff (who has a bodybuilder’s musculature that she’s ashamed of) and Refrax (…he’s Cyclops, but a jerk who choose to wear his shades all the time). They’re not exactly Firestar level replacements here.
- Trying to adapt the wide and varied powers of the X-Men on a mid-90’s TV budget leads to some…questionable special effects. Such as Buff being replaced by a legit bodybuilder when they want to show her powers, only to have the conventionally tiny actress’ physique in the next shot.
- In the world of this movie being a mutant is an “Illegal genetic condition”, to the point where an unregistered mutant is a higher criminal priority than a guy who was about to vivisect a teenager. Which is admittedly not unprecedented, but usually the Sentinels have taken over before that becomes public policy.
- “But if and when you powers do kick in and you do look through my clothes, I will rip off your head and attach it to his butt!” – Buff to Refrax, speaking more or less for the audience.
Generation X is the X-Men crossed with Beverly Hills 90210 and is just silly from start to finish. And yet, somehow, it’s still a better movie than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s not legally available, but it is surely at the nearest comic convention bootleggers booth. Those are still a thing, right?
NEXT WEEK: Sight unseen, we’re gonna tackle the two part premier of 1997’s Night Man TV series.