Title: Generation X
Director: Jack Sholder
Writer: Erik Blakeney (created by Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo)
Distributed By: Fox Television
Starring: Suzanne Davis, Matt Frewer, Finola Hughes, and Heather McComb
Release Date: February 20th, 1996
Emma Frost (Finola Hughes) and Banshee (Jeremy Ratchford) are headmasters of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The school is dedicated to finding and recruiting mutants who are abused by the government and misunderstood by most people. Emma Frost and Banshee have a new task of training and disciplining a new generation of mutants who don’t get along with each other. But when mad scientist Doctor Russel Tresh (Matt Frewer) kidnaps Skin (Agustin Rodriguez) to extract his brain for an experiment, the mutants must put aside their differences and rescue him.
TV films have always been a trove of superhero movies before the whole superhero film franchise exploded in the 00’s. There were plenty of obscurities you might not have heard about, such as Doctor Strange or Captain America (several TV films). Some of them, such as The Spirit, were actually good. But others failed to be good. Generation X is one of those in the latter camp.
For starters, it’s an adaptation of Generation X rather than the normal X-Men. I’m not trying to bag on Generation X, but let’s be honest, it’s not the best of the X-Men spinoffs. It’s true that you get Emma Frost and Banshee here, but others aren’t as cool as if they’d had more of the classic lineup. It’s cool seeing Jubilee in live action, but almost all of their powers suck. One example is Skin, who’s basically like Mr. Fantastic except he screams Bloody Mary whenever his skin gets stretched.
Fortunately, it is somewhat faithful to the comic book series. At least more than most of the comic book film/TV projects at the time. But again, it’s odd that they chose Generation X. For myself and others who’ve read Generation X and other X-Men comics, it’s easy to figure out, even if they did change a few things. However, I’m not sure how people who have never read an X-Men comic would understand all of this (remember, this was before the X-Men films came out).
The only thing better would be if Deadpool was playing this.
Still, a semi-faithful film that appeals to fans sounds like a good idea. And I suppose it is, but the problem is the execution.
The biggest fault by far is the acting. TV movies generally do not have the best acting or dialog, but here it’s pretty painful. Acting is one of those things where when it’s done right, you don’t notice it, but when it’s done wrong, you definitely notice. Here, the acting is very over the top and the lines are corny to say the least. Most of the characters either whine or act overly excited. It’s Dawson’s Creek casting where half of them are jerks for no apparent reasons. Although I did like Jeremy Ratchford as Banshee.
Billy Idol's nephew
Also, it’s not just the dialog that the script got wrong. The plot here is pretty tedious. It does have a fairly quick change of sets so the pacing isn’t the problem. However, nothing really happens. There’s no real good fighting scenes if that’s what you’re expecting. Most of it is basically pseudo science, Xavier school drama, and 90s teen talk. So essentially it’s a 90s Fox Kids soap opera.
If there is one thing I’ll give this film credit for, it’s that the sets and effects are fairly impressive when you consider it’s a 90s Canadian TV film. For one thing, they do use the Hatley Castle, which was used in the other X-Men films. There were some other cool 90-ish sets, such as the arcade or the amusement park. And every once and a while there were a few special effects such as Jubilee’s fireworks (more like sparks), or Banshee’s scream. Still, at the end of the day, it is a 90s TV film and it looks like it might’ve been just as outdated then as it is now.
However, that might be the charm of it. The show is very much 90s. From the red, yellow, and green lighting, mad scientist, hip hop arcades, and any other 90s trope you can throw in. Of course, your mileage may vary on this. Anyone born in 1991 or later might not enjoy the nostalgic trip back in time.
Regardless of the nostalgia, sets, and rare effects, I don’t think Generation X is worth watching. Nothing really happens, and what does happen isn’t very interesting. It might have worked as a thirty minute show. But it’s too low budget, too bloated, and too simple to be a film. Which is the case for many of the superhero TV films.