On DVD: Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Opinions vary on “motion comics”. Some people love the enhanced experience of looking at comics with motion and voice acting. Others believe it’s a throwback to the old Marvel short minimal motion shows from the 60’s. Still every time I see one of these motion comics I hear the lyrics “Captain America throws his might shield…”
I’ve “read” several motion comics including Spider Woman, Iron Man, and Invincible. I read or watched them if you will on my iPad and cell phone. These stories worked well on these portable devices because they aren’t quite television shows and aren’t quite comics just like cell phones aren’t quite televisions and aren’t quite cell phones in the classic sense of the term. A screen might be too small to read a comic but I could certainly watch these limited videos. The question is do they hold up on a big HDTV while viewers sit on a sofa?
So this motion comic is based on Joss Whedon’s run on the comic book of the same title. Based on really isn’t the proper description though; this is the exact comic brought to life, well kind of to life. Often on the screen only one tiny element moves, sometimes just a mouth. Other times there’s not as much actual movement as there is a still image simply sliding across the screen. It’s all done dynamically though and it feels more energetic than it really is.
In case you don’t know in the comics the X-Men have a computer controlled gym for honing their abilities. The room can be set to a fairly dangerous level of training. At some point circumstances allowed the room become sentient, a living being. That living being is pissed off too. The story is odd and definitely convoluted, kind of messy in general. It was tough to stick with reading the comic and it’s still a little tough in viewing the motion comic. There are many better stories that could have been plucked from the X-Men universe but this story was obviously picked because it was written by Joss Whedon (the man behind the upcoming big budget Avengers movie).
It’s an imperfect story for sure but the X-Men are well characterized by Whedon and some of the writers classic dialogue is in full effect here. The action is often exciting too. This is definitely for comic book fans rather than fans of the X-Men movies. These characters aren’t the ones from the movie. They are in fact different and those that don’t read the comics will be confused. To answer my own question this motion comic isn’t really meant for HDTV couch potato viewing, especially since the experience is still broken into tiny internet friendly episodes. Were the entire thing combined into one longer film it might have played a little better. X-Men and comic book completists will still enjoy the best parts of this though.
Since this DVD is built from digital content it looks pretty good on the big screen. The issues with it are mostly the same as they were when the experience moved from paper to video. The paper comic doesn’t feature the deepest most detailed backgrounds because the comic book panel is a pretty small piece of real estate so there’s simply not much space for that level of detail. On the big screen some of the low detail backgrounds can look pretty terrible. The colors are solid and bright and the detailed areas do look quite good.
The Dolby audio is very basic here and so is the audio from the source. There’s dialogue, some music, and some basic sound fx. The fx are a little muffled by the dialogue is clean throughout. Everything is stuffed tightly into the center channel of the soundstage though.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single DVD is packaged in an extremely slim clear amaray case. The artwork from the comic series is pretty good, fairly cinematic at its best, and the cover art here is taken from the comics. There are absolutely no bonus features. Why put this out with no bonus features?
Astonishing X-Men Dangerous is a gift for comic book fans nothing more. This is a new medium and a new experience that’s sure to find its way as it evolves.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Movie 6.5/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 2/10
Overall (Not an average) 5/10