Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End DVD Review

The ongoing Wolverine and The X-Men storyline continues to slowly head toward the inevitable; not just a showdown between X-Men and Magneto, but an all-out war between mutants and human. In the latest DVD release from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End brings us to the mid-point of all the season one plotlines as the first major battle is had and lines are drawn in the sand. Jumping forth between past, present and the future, Wolverine and The X-Men continues to unravel as the stakes continue to rise for both the X-Men and all of humanity.

Wolverine and the X-Men face potential demise in five apocalyptic episodes! Xavier and Cerebro are captured by the malevolent Sentinels. Nightcrawler is lured onto Magneto's sinister island paradise and Logan is haunted by his dark past with Weapon X. Cyclops takes on old foes and new ones, and battle lines are drawn when Rogue uncovers the Brotherhood's terrifying plan to annihilate human and mutant kind alike. Wolverine and the X-Men: Beginning of the End is the latest installment of one of the most harrowing tales in mutant history!

Picking up where the last release left off, Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End finds the X-Men heading toward the inevitable confrontation with Magneto and his Brotherhood. On top of that, Professor Xavier and his band of rag-tag renegades continue to do battle against an onslaught of deadly Sentinels in the future. Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End slowly moves the overall storyline along, leaving enough interest to ensure fans will be back for the next volume, but also providing a pretty satisfying mid-season finale episodes to avoid anyone from feeling cheated by any lack of resolution. All five episodes included do manage to touch upon the main themes of the series without a single filler episode, as Wolverine, Cyclops, and Professor Xavier all get headlining episodes that play an integral role in some fashion.

The episodes featured in this collection include "Future X," "Greetings from Genosha," "Past Discretions," "eXcessive Force," and "Battle Lines."

The episodes included here are all good in their own rights, but some are more enjoyable then others. Personally, the episodes focusing on the future are mostly hit and miss, and while "Future X" is good, it's also the weakest in the collection. It just lacks the punch of the other included episodes. "Greetings from Genosha" has a great eery feel to it as we watch Nightcrawler find out there's more to Genosha then originally thought, resulting in one of my favorite endings to any X-Men cartoon. "eXcessive Force" is a very raw episode as an absolutely desperate Scott goes on a rampage (basically) to find his beloved Jean Grey. Also included is the episode "Past Discretions," an entertaining Wolverine-centric episode that sheds some light on the Canucklehead's past. "Battle Lines" the mid-season finale episode to Wolverine and The X-Men, provides a satisfying conclusion to this batch of episodes, but also gives us a look at where this series is heading, story-wise.

As I've noted in previous reviews, Wolverine and The X-Men manages to touch upon plenty of mature themes, and the episodes included here are no exception. Whether it's Wolverine's murderous past or the some very obvious comparisons made by Magneto's imprisonment of potentially deadly mutants, Wolverine and The X-Men doesn't shy away from some of the darker aspects of the franchise. Thankfully the show doesn't dwell on this, but simply allows it to be part of the overall landscape of X-Men lore. There's also plenty of comedic and light touches thrown in to make sure the show doesn't become fully enveloped in some of its darker roots, helping to make sure this show remains just as accessible for the younger crowd as well as the older fans. Toss in some effective storytelling and, as usual, fans are treated to five adventures worth checking out in this release.

Expanding upon the previous Wolverine and The X-Men DVD releases, Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End brings us to the halfway point to the first season's ongoing storyline. Backed with solid animation and an impressive voice cast, Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End really is something worth picking up. I can't see how X-Men fans would be disappointed in any way with this series. Sure, putting Wolverine in the forefront may upset more than a few X-Men purists, but it's handled in a way that doesn't seem like a blatant cashgrab but an actual extension of the story, and that definitely becomes apparent with the mid-season finale episode "Battle Lines." On top of that, we have the usual compelling heroes, great villains, good stories, and tone and feeling that stays true to the core of the X-Men storyline. The creators on this series have really put together something great here, and the five episodes in this collection really lay out what the show is all about. Providing five satisfying adventures, Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End comes Recommended.

The DVD:

Much like the previous Wolverine and The X-Men DVD releases, Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End looks and sounds great. The 1.78:1 picture is vibrant and really pops off the screen, with the only noticeable defect being some slight interlacing and compression on the image. Even though the audio is standard Dolby 5.1 English, the sound is still excellent with loud sound effects and action sequences coming out loud and clear. An alternate Spanish 2.0 dub is also available.

And what about the all-important extras? Each episode comes with a commentary track featuring supervising producer Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson and Chris Yost. The tracks are pretty informative, providing a nice amount of behind-the-scenes information amongst the joking and ribbing between the creators. As the only real extras on this release, we do get a good helping of behind-the-scenes info mixed in with the playfulness, bringing a good balance. After the commentary, we get the pretty nifty Astonishing X-Men: The Motion Comic - Episode 1 extra, essentially a long ad for the new motion comic release from Marvel Comics but still pretty damn cool for what's essentially a lightly animated comic. The disc is then wrapped up with a collection of trailers.

Without the prospect of a complete season collection coming from Lionsgate Home Entertainment any time soon, at least until the entire first 26-episode season is released in single-discs releases beforehand, these individual DVD volume releases are currently the only Wolverine and The X-Men titles available to American consumers unless they wish to import. I'd rate the Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End DVD release as Recommended, but with some reservations. It's worth picking up, especially with the release priced to move at most outlets, but the single-disc volume release will no doubt turn away fans waiting for a bigger collection. Wolverine and The X-Men: Beginning of the End is a fine release, containing five episodes along with commentaries, trailers and a nifty motion comic. The main feature, the series, remains a solid interpretation of Marvel's Merry Mutants. There's plenty of action, great characters, and some solid episodes that should keep X-fans engaged.

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