Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Astonishing X-Men
Joss Whedon and John Cassaday helped restart the Astonishing X-Men and their four six-issue arcs and the giant size edition was amazing. It earned awards, including the Will Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series, which is like the Best Picture Oscar for comics. This week, the final DVD hits the home market, Unstoppable, as well as the two-disc Blu-ray Box Set. Does the series end on a high note? And is the Blu-ray worth picking up, even if you own the previous three DVDs?
Unstoppable begins on an alien planet, Breakworld. Breakworld is the home to Ord, the alien super villain we met in Gifted. He has come to Earth to destroy the X-men and the mutants, because the people believed it would be a mutant that would destroy their species. In fact, we learned throughout the course of the previous three volumes (Warning: Spoilers) that he was given permission by S.W.O.R.D. (you could call this the intergalactic version of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to resurrect Colossus and use his DNA to come up with a cure for mutants. This would prevent the people of Breakworld from dying and would stop a war between the two planets. However, we also learned (Warning: Major Spoilers) that it was Colossus who would destroy their species, so Ord is in effect responsible for the destruction of his people. Special Agent Abigail Brand kidnaps the X-Men (along with Ord and Danger) and plans to bring them to Breakworld. It's a little more complicated than that. The Breakworld fleet is going to the Earth to destroy it, but they also have a secret missile that can crack the Earth in half. Her plan is to let the Breakworld aliens know they have Colossus, so that their fleet will try to intercept them, but they will get to the missile and disarm it before the fleet gets to them. That plan doesn't work out so well, and the first episode ends with their ship under major attack.
Plan B is crash-landing Breakworld and finding out what the prophecy really is and how to stop it. Failing that, at least stop Breakworld's plan to destroy the Earth. How that plays out is unfortunately spoilers.
Before we get to the review, I have an open letter to Joss Whedon.
Dear Joss Whedon,
Seriously. What is his obsession with creating characters that fans will love, only to kill them off? I still haven't forgiven him for killing Tara Maclay.
From the beginning to the end, this has been an excellent series. Each DVD has had a strong central story while moving the overall plot in a compelling way. Subplots that were left hanging are tidied up in the final part of the film, and it is done so in a way that adds to the overall quality of the series. The finale has a sense of scope that is needed for such an important story in the universe of the X-men and as my open letter suggests, it has a personal and emotional punch to it as well. Although, given the history of deaths that turn out to be non-permanent in the comic book world, this impact is lessened considerably. Most of these characters have existed for a long time before Gifted was written, but the character arcs here bring extra life to them. Overall, it's an incredible story.
The limited extras from before are here, while Unstoppable has a five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette on the animation studio. That's not a lot, but at least it's something.
The video is, well, hard to judge. It's a motion comic, so it's hard to compare to traditional animation on high definition. The first installment, Gifted, was made in standard definition and upconverted to high definition, and you can tell at times. Otherwise, its great with very good colors, deep blacks, etc., but it isn't the kind of release you would use to show off your HDTV. Likewise, the audio quality is solid, but uncomplicated.
As for the price, the Blu-ray box set costs $31 compared to over $40 to buy the installments individually. It is clearly the better deal, if you don't have any of them so far. If you have the previous three, then you are looking at $31 for high definition vs. $12 to complete your collection.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2012-11-10