Sunday, June 24, 2018

Jurassic Park (1993) (Movie Review)

      As a kid, there was no shortage of things I loved, including superhero’s, the holiday seasons, video games, cartoon characters, but above all, I was a kid who was madly in love with Dinosaurs. Unlike dragons or other cool movie monsters, Dinosaurs were once real creatures, they lived on our very planet, and as a kid I always imagined what it would be like to see one for real. Well, in 1993, everyone got to see Dinosaurs come to life in Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “Jurassic Park”. Strait to the point, this has been and will always be one of my all time favorite movies. This was the movie experience that made Dinosaurs feel real, and as a kid, I was ecstatic about the idea of a real theme park zoo dedicated solely to Dinosaurs. As far back as I can remember, this was the very first PG-13 movie I ever saw, so in a sense it was my first time dipping my big toe into a grownup world. More importantly, along with the likes of “Star Wars” and “The Wizard of Oz”, “Jurassic Park” was one of those experiences that helped shape my overall love for movies. Obviously, this film was a big game changer in the realms of special effects, and provided no shortage of Dino action, but I hope the entertainment value doesn’t distract modern audience from everything else that the film has to offer. Make no mistake, there is magic in “Jurassic Park”, it’s an experience, with brilliant film-making techniques on display, rich themes, and great characters to boot.  

      Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, "Jurassic Park" tells the tale of what happens when man plays God and then screws with nature. Our venture begins with the introduction of two paleontologists named Alan Grant and his girlfriend Ellie Sattler, who are currently exploring the possibilities of raising children, which is difficult as the former is none to fond of kids. Inter their midst is a theme park owner named John Hammond, who’s impressed with both their knowledge and genuine love of Dinosaurs. Thus, he invites them on a trip to his mysterious park and hopes that they’d sponsor it. Upon visiting, it’s soon revealed that Hammond’s park dose in fact feature real, living, breathing dinosaurs, which scientists have grown from DNA preserved in fossilized mosquitoes. Hammond's proposal is that his guests take one tour of his island park, along with his two young grand-children, and put out a good word on his park. At first, the park is a dream come true, as Dr. Grant finds himself living out his child hood dream to be in the presence of real Dinosaurs. Unfortunately, lurking in their midst is a spy waiting for his chance to steal the Dinosaur embryos for another rival organization. His foolish actions lead to all the park systems shutting down, the power goes off and now all the Dino’s can walk about or go hunting without being restricted by electrical fences. With the situation rapidly getting out of hand, Dr. Grant finds himself separated from the group, and in the care of Hammond's two grandchildren. Thus, the adventure is on as our heroic guests try to escape the theme park, while avoiding both the jaws of a giant T-Rex and the claws of savage Velociraptor's.   

      Now back when I was a just a little kid seeing this film for the first time, all I wanted were cool dinosaurs and fun chases with them. Well, I certainly got both of those, but I surprisingly got more than expected. The first thing this movie absolutely got right was it’s cast of characters, who were all very engaging to watch even at a very young age. Granted, some could right these characters off as cartoony stereotypes, right down to the fact that they all ware color coded clothing, but there’s such a talented ensemble cast bringing them to life that it hardly matters. Dr. Alan Grant is played by Sam Neill, who’s natural charm and charisma absolutely carries the film. 

Even back when I was just a kid, Sam Neill was one of the first actors I ever consciously chose to become a fan of, and it all began here with his portrayal of Alan Grant. I always loved that he wasn’t just a survivor, he also had an arc in which he overcame his distaste toured children, protected the two kids, became a father figure and in the end was finally ready to start a family. Speaking of the kids, they were another crucial ingredient to the film, not just for Dr. Grants arc, but for bringing younger viewers into the experience. It’s through the eyes of these two children that young viewers put themselves in their shoes, and it made both the wonder and danger feel all the more real. Laura Dern is also very lovable as the love interest Dr. Ellie Sattler, who thankfully isn’t poorly stereotyped as a token female. She manages to be strong without drawing too much attention to herself, and her chemistry with Sam Neill is very natural without the need of forced romantic dialogue. Oh, and of course Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Malcom made for one of the most charismatic and memorable characters that the 90’s had to offer. He was the funny, cool guy of the group, but was also very smart and was even the first to take note of the problems in the park well before all the trouble starts. He’s also got the most quotable lines of the film, with the most iconic being “Life finds a way”. His cocky attitude was the perfect offset to Sam Neill’s more stubborn tone, and I just loved watching this cast in general play off one-another.

       Perhaps the most well-rounded character of all is the theme park owner himself John Hammond who’s played masterfully by the late Richard Attenborough. While Sam Neill as Alan Grant has always been my personal favorite character, John Hammond was the most important to get right, and it’s here where the movie really shines. It could have been so easy to make Hammond your typical greedy business man who just wanted to make a fortune from the dinosaurs, but instead he’s the kindest, most lovable and innocent man who just wants to bring joy and wonder to the world. He probably would charge customers for free if he could, but it’s through his simple-minded, if well intended ambitions that the tragedy of the situation really hits home. Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Malcom at one point in the film sums things up with this chilling statement, that Hammond is toying with incredible power, and he’s wielding it like a kid who just found his dads gun. That in a nut-shell sums up the tragedy of John Hammond, as he’s someone with the impulse of a child so caught up in the joy of his discovery that he forgot to see if the safety was off, and suddenly people die because of his stubbornness. I’m also very glad that this movie doesn’t feature a straight forward human villain. We have the saboteur played by Wayne Knight, but he never really becomes a villain of any sort. He’s simply the catalyst for getting the problems started, and once he plays his part in the story, he’s quickly taken out of the picture. It’s also cool to see Samuel L. Jackson in one of his early roles as a park scientist, before he became a famous actor. Surprisingly, his character has one of the most quotable lines of the film … “Hold on to your butts”.

    Now in the wake of “Jurassic Park’s” many sequels, it can be easy for casual viewers to right this film off as just another mindless action film with nothing but exciting Dinosaur attacks throughout. While that’s certainly what the sequels devolved into, some may have forgetting that the first film was much smarter and far more of what I’d like to call an experience, rather then a strait forward action adventure. One of my favorite scenes is the opening helicopter flight, which boasts one of the most triumphant musical scores I’ve ever heard, the scenery is gorgeous, and the whole scene sets the tone for something grand and special before we even see a single Dinosaur. Then we get our first real scene of awe and wonder when our team encounters their first dinosaur. The scene with the Brontosaurs is one of my favorite moments from any action film, because it has nothing to do with action or excitement, it’s just our heroes marveling this beautiful giant, and the music once again just makes my spirit sour. I know that’s a corny thing to say, but it’s true. Obviously, John Williams a legend when it comes to classic music tracks in movies like “Indiana Jones”, “Superman”, “Harry Potter”, “E.T.” and “Star Wars”, but for me, it’s his musical track to "Jurassic Park" that’s always left the biggest impact on me.    

     Another one of my favorite little moments is when the team comes across the sick Triceratops. The scene really has nothing to do with the film, but it’s just another added detail that makes this film feel special. We see Ellie take on the role of a nurse, Grant becomes a child as he’s face to face with his most beloved Dinosaur, and while I’m perfectly aware that this Triceratops is animatronic, it never once felt like a robotic puppet, that thing looked and felt real. This brings me to the films Oscar winning effects, which were more then just a breakthrough in computer generated technology, it was the perfect fusion of CGI and practical animatronics. Looking back, it’s actually quiet refreshing to see how many life like puppets were featured in the film. More to the point, I always looked at “Jurassic Park” as one of the big game changers in special effects. Before this film, Dinosaurs were only ever featured as stop-motion, sock puppets or guys in rubber costumes. This is the film that convinced a generation that these photo realistic Dinosaurs were alive, and that we could reach out into the screen and touch them. If “King Kong” was a mile stone of special effects back in 1933, “Jurassic Park” was the next level of what “King Kong” started, and to this day I really don’t think it’s been surpassed, although there have been some contenders. Also, for an occasionally dark and creepy movie, this was actually a very colorful looking film, and I loved it for that.

        Science Fiction fans can likewise get a lot of enjoyment out of this movie. Granted there’s no space ships or anything we commonly associate with traditional Sci-Fi, but the science behind the creation of these Dinosaurs, while impossible, still make for cool ideas that almost feel plausible. The science also leads to ethical and moral debates, which is yet another great strength to this film. I love seeing these characters sit down at the dinner table and debate the ethics behind what’s happened. I also love the subtle shift in tone, as our visitors go from over joyed wonderment, to very concerned about the moral principles of the science on display. It should be noted that it actually takes over an hour before we have any real Dinosaur attacks, and in that time this film has dazzled us with awe inspiring moments, fleshed out the characters and raised ethical debates. Once the carnage goes down, I feel completely engrossed in the experience and in general it’s some of the best stuff the monster movie genera has ever offered. I’ll never forget seeing this for the first time and thinking I was becoming a big boy for handling the content in the film. Truthfully, while many sequences were intense, I was never really that disturbed by the violence nor do I recall ever being that scared. Actually, the most terrifying part of the film for me was the opening title card sequence, as that eerie music always got me spooked to watch this by myself.

     Now obviously for any kid obsessed with Dinosaurs, the T-Rex is commonly their favorite, and it certainly was for me. I was crazy obsessed with the T-Rex, and seeing this thing come to life on film was the stuff that only dreams were made of. In all seriousness, the T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” will always be one of my favorite movie monsters, and a staple to the art of practical effects. Naturally my favorite scene of whole film was the iconic T-Rex attack in the rain. This scene is filmmaking at it’s finest, and a testament Steven Spielberg’s craft. The build-up to this attack alone is riveting and features one of cinemas most inspired visuals in which a cup of the water ripples due to the vibration of the T-Rex’s giant steps. I love that there’s no music of any sort heard during this attack, it’s only the chilling sounds of falling rain, and speaking of great sounds, that T-Rex roar … oh my, it’s one of my favorite sound designs ever put to film. Also, despite being a very suspenseful sequence, this first T-Rex attack actually has some subtext, as it’s an example of life breaking free from its confinement, and ties back in to the ethical debates of earlier. Another T-Rex highlight of course was the exciting jeep chase, which was both thrilling but also had a great deal of tension, largely thanks to Laura Dern, who’s an excellent screamer.       

    Another thing I loved about this film was that it didn’t just resort to dinosaur attacks for exciting sequences. We also have our hero’s escaping a tree before a car topless on them, and we have a deeply tense scene with the boy trying to get over an electrical fence before the power comes on. I should also give this movie credit for introducing me to Raptors. These guys don’t show their faces until the third act, and the wait is worth it because these guys are awesome. Once again, the practical puppet work is amazing, and something I honestly never payed attention to as a kid was just how frightening they were. 
Seeing this movie as a child, I just thought those Raptors were awesome, but looking back as an adult, there are some truly tense and intimidating moments with these guys. The whole climax is a slow burning cat and mouse game with these guys, and of course the kitchen scene is an electrifying piece of suspense film-making. Things build to a riveting final showdown on a museum display, and even though it’s admittedly short, it’s still extremely thrilling and highly satisfying. To this day I still get chills all over my body when the T-Rex comes in to rescue our heroes from the raptors. That was always my favorite part as a kid, because I loved seeing their most dangerous obstacle become the thing that saves the day. Oh, and that final shot of the T-Rex roaring, with the banner falling in front of him … a thing of beauty! Even after the T-Rex drops the mic, this film still deliver’s as we lead into one of my all-time favorite movie epilogues. We see our hero’s fly away to safety on the helicopter, not a single line is spoken, yet I still feel so much from these characters. I feel for Hamond has he stares at his cane and ponders the lessons he’s learned from this experience. I feel for Grant and Ellie as they exchange knowing looks that their ready to start a family. I especially love that final image of that flock of birds flying over the ocean. Then as the music builds, and the helicopter fly’s off into the distance, I’m always left with chills, like I just embarked on a once in a lifetime journey.   

   Like I said earlier, there are some people these days who could easily look back on “Jurassic Park” as that one hit monster attack movie, which had impressive special effects, and then think nothing else of it, but there really is so much more to this film. I always looked at “Jurassic Park” as a movie that had something special to offer to any kind of viewer. It’s a griping survival film, a family adventure, a creepy monster flick, a magical journey and an intriguing Sci-Fi that balances fantasy with ethical debates. There’s honestly so much I can say about this film that I could probably write a whole book on why I firmly believe that “Jurassic Park” should be regarded as a higher form of cinematic art, rather than just another entertaining B monster movie. It’s a film that captured my imagination as a child, took me on a thrilling ride, and after so many years this movie still continues to inspire me. It’s also my favorite of Steven Spielberg’s works as it masterfully combines his talents of bringing wonder and horror into one package. We’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s raw talents of bringing wonder to viewers through films like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and we’ve seen his relentless skill at livening up suspense in films like “Jaws”. With “Jurassic Park” it’s a seemingly perfect mirage of his craft. I know that a movie of this nature will never truly be regarded as high art, but frequently I see films like “Jaws” and “King Kong” in honorary ranks among the greatest movies ever made, so why not give "Jurassic Park" that same love and respect? Weather you think this film is special, or simple fun or maybe even overrated, I’ll always look back on this as one of my favorite movies, one that takes me back to my child hood and reminds me of a time when Dinosaurs were the greatest.    

I proudly give “Jurassic Park” a perfect 5 stars out of 5.  

X-Men: Evolution: My Top 10 Favorite Episodes

   The X-Men are personally my favorite superhero characters of all time, and for me, the animated 2000 TV series “X-Men Evolution” is the show that started everything. This is the show that made me a fan, it’s also where my love for comic books and superheroes really took shape, and I was never the same after growing up with it. Now obviously there’s plenty of other comic related material that I’m fond of, but none of them ever seemed to hold a candle to this team. Focusing more on themes of prejudice and acceptance always took the X-Men just one step beyond other superheroes. Also, in this particular show, the X-Men felt the most human, unlike other renditions of the team, where they’re displayed as colorful hero’s that saved the world from super villains. While “X-Men Evolution” has its high-stake action and spectacles, it also felt a little more grounded, and focused on the team as common everyday people that are just trying to find their place in the world. Despite some really mixed-hummer, this show made my favorite team of heroes far more relate-able and identifiable than any other incarnation. Honestly, it’s one of the few animated TV shows that I still enjoy watching as an adult, and it’s about time I celebrate by looking back at the best of what one of my favorite Superhero shows had to offer. Here are my personal top 10 favorite episodes of “X-Men Evolution”.

#10 “African Storm” (Season 2: Ep. 21) 

    While Storm has always been an iconic X-Men character, she regrettably never amounted to anything more than a supporting role in this series. Thus, “African Storm” has always stood out for me, as it’s the only episode in which she’s in the spot light. In this creepy venture, we discover that Storm once used her powers to aid a small African tribe that was suffering from a drought, and in turn was worshiped by the natives like a Goddess. Her actions in turn expelled a witch doctor called Hungan from their tribe, and now in present day he seeks his vengeance by placing a curse on Storm and harnessing her powers for his own gain. This episode in my opinion has some of the best atmosphere and creepy visuals of the series. It wasn’t too often that a Saturday morning cartoon spooked me, but I distinctly remember this one getting under my skin. The Hungan and his clan made for very unique enemies for our heroes to battle, and the episode also gave Storm’s nephew Spike a good arc in which he learns to be there for his family when they need him most. It short, this episode was hauntingly atmospheric, developed Storm’s backstory and stood out as a unique entry in the series.           

#9 “Mainstream” (Season 3: Ep. 33) 

     One of my favorite aspects of this show is that it begins with mutants under wraps, and no-one in the public really knew of their existence, unlike other X-Men shows and movies where people know of them from the start. Because of this, we get to see the excitement of their massive secret exposed to the world, people looking at our heroes differently from before, and in the end, the X-Men’s greatest challenge is fighting for acceptance. In the season three episode “Mainstream”, we see our young heroes try to attend a public school under the condition that they don’t use their powers. As they soon discover, fitting in with humans is far more challenging then facing your typical super-villain of the week. They can’t join a sport team without being blamed for cheating, former friends won’t stand by them anymore, and local bullies are eager to start a fight. It’s not an episode about saving the world or fighting the ultimate evil, it’s just these characters fighting for acceptance in a very skeptical world, and that’s when this show is at its most poignant. Themes of prejudice have always been a staple for the legacy of X-Men, and I think this episode really hits the moral subtext of these characters home. The climax of this episode revolves around a speech delivered by X-Men member Jean Grey to a public auditorium, which thankfully conveys just the right points without ever being melodramatic.  

#8 “Ascension” (Season 4: Ep. 50-51) 

    Now the bulk of “X-Men Evolution” was watching our heroes face more grounded human trials, but it also wasn’t without it’s epic superhero spectacles. In a daring move, the big superhero showdowns were utilized sparingly in this series so they’d feel more like events, and the two-part series finale from season four titled “Ascension” was most definitely an event. This was the grand, end all showdown with the most lethal villain of the series … the accent mutant Apocalypse. After two seasons of build-up, this was the massive Apocalypse battle, with the fate of the world at stake that we’ve been waiting for, and it delivers. The X-Men team-up with former enemies, they split-up into multiple groups to fight in separate parts of the world that are under siege, and it makes everything feel grander as a result. There’s just enough emotional ties between characters to balance out the large-scale battles, including Jean Gray reaching out to a brainwashed Professor X, and Rouge, the girl who’s always shut herself out from the world ultimately being the one who saves it. Apocalypse made for a very exciting villain, and it was great that the show didn’t over rely on him, and instead kept his appearances to a minimum until this epic finale. The highlight of this episode by far is the closing epilogue in which Professor X looks into the future and see’s what’s to become of his students and what potential obstacles lie ahead for them. It was an emotional, action-packed and all around satisfying conclusion to a great series.      

#7 “Self Possessed” (Season 3: Ep. 38) 

     One of my favorite aspects about X-Men in general is that, as kids we think having superpowers is the coolest thing ever, but this team always illustrated their abilities as both an asset and a handicap. Rouge especially has always been the most tragic victim of her own powers, as her abilities to absorbs memories or other mutant powers made it impossible to get close to anyone. As if her powers didn’t cause enough problems, we also learn in the season three episode “Self Possessed” that every memory and life force she’s ever absorbed stays in her head, and now it’s getting a little too crowded in her mind. After a tense encounter with Mystique, Rouge leans the horrifying truth that she is in-fact the daughter of the X-Men’s greatest enemy, and after accidently absorbing her powers, all the personalities of everyone she’s touched begins taken control of her body. It’s an effectively dramatic episode watching Rouge get torn apart from the inside, but it also features some of the shows best action as it features Rouge utilizing multiple powers at once. This episode also features one of Wolverines most heroic moments as he’s the one who reaches out to Rouge and pullers her back out. For a twenty-minuet episode, this one packs a lot, sets the stage for a darker road ahead and the experience permanently changes Rouges character from this point on. Definitely one of the darker episodes, and one well worth checking out if you’re a Rouge fan.    

#6 “Operation Rebirth” (Season 2: Ep. 24) 

     Much like Storm, Wolverine was also a side character and didn’t always get stand alone episodes, which always made it feel like a special event whenever he did. “Operation Rebirth” stands as one of his best, as well as an episode that breaks away from its familiar formula. This episode marks the first appearance of Nick Furry of Shield, who becomes a reoccurring character throughout the shows run. After touching base with Wolverine, we discover that Magneto along with Sabretooth have stolen a top-secret devise from a shield base, but to what end is unknown. What’s more is that the devise triggers memories of Wolverines past, way back when he fought in World War 2 alongside none other then Captain America. This is the only crossover episode with another famous Marvel superhero, and it’s excellent, despite only seeing Captain America in flashbacks. It’s great to see the early roots of Wolverine before he got his claws, it’s equally satisfying to see him work with another classic superhero from under the Marvel banner, and it even develops a connection our clawed hero has with Magneto, which was very subtle but effective. This is also one of Wolverines most emotional episodes, as we see him lamenting the loss of a friend. It’s just a really mature episode, with great action, and it’s a cool change of pace to see a hand full of the younger team members go on a mission with Wolverine. 

#5 “Under Lock and Key” (Season 3: Ep. 39) 

     Following after the events of the season two episode titled “Mindbender”, we discover that the team’s newest foe named Mesmero is stealing sacred relics in an effort to awaken the dreaded Apocalypse from his slumber. This episode is a riveting progression of what would become the final story arc of the series, and there’s a riveting sense of looming dread that’s just building to Apocalypse’s arrival. This episode also marks the point where Magneto and his Acolytes become mutual enemies of Mesmero and his malevolent master. However, the big reason this episode ranks so high on my list is because it’s the only episode from any X-Man cartoon to bring together Cyclops, Angle, The Beast, Ice Man and Jean Grey for one action packed venture. We long time comic fans know these five as the very first original X-Man created by Stan Lee himself, and it’s such a treat to see them together in one epic throwdown against both the Acolytes, and a monstrous spider creature summoned by Mesmero. There’s even a subtle in-joke provided by Ice-Man that they’re “definitely the cool team”, and it also features an unforgettable group shot of the five walking together just before the battle.    

#4 – “The Stuff of Heroes” (Season 3: Ep. 32) 

     Still fresh after the catastrophic events of the season two finale, our heroes are on the run from the military, the world has been driven into a state of panic after the discovery of mutants and Professor X is still missing. This episode features so many highlights that break away from the typical status quo of the series. It’s riveting to see them on the run from the military, and it leads to some thrilling action. However, as the title colorfully suggests, this is the episode where the X-Men display their first sign of heroism to the nation by rescuing a small town from their strongest foe ... the Juggernaut. This leads to one of the highest stake battles of the series, as the team need to concur their most unstoppable adversary without the aid of Professor X. It’s a riveting battle, with our hero’s utilizing their powers in distinctively creative ways, the tension is high, and on a side note, the music score during this battle is absolutely electrifying. In the end, Juggernaut meats his demise, the X-Men prove themselves heroes to the core, the president makes an impassioned speech about this being a time of change and our team finally discover where Professor X had been held the whole time. It was all around an important game changer for the direction of the series, and it really show cases that our young X-Men have grown so much as both heroes and as individuals sense their early days.      

#3 “The Cauldron” (Season 1: Ep. 12-13) 

     Of the many foes that have challenged the X-Men, Magneto will always stand out as their greatest adversary, not because he’s the evillest, but because he’s far more compelling and aims to persuade his enemies to join him in what he views as a noble cause. Throughout season one, Magneto was kept in the shadows, while his first lieutenant Mystique was the one regularly battling our heroes out in the field. Then during the epic season one finale titled “The Cauldron”, Magneto finally makes himself known by challenging the X-Men to a full-on battle against his Brotherhood to determine who belongs on his sanctuary base called Asteroid M. As his mutant war wages on several playing fields, Cyclopes has an emotional reunion with his little brother, who’s been presumed dead for years. There’s a very effective flashback in which we see Cyclopes origins, how he and his brother escaped a plain crash, and the tragic loss of his parents, which also marked a rare and daring death sequence for he series. As the two brother’s bond, Cyclopes is unaware that he’s also being manipulated by Magneto to join his cause against the humans. Soon, Cyclopes himself finds reason in Magnetos goals and betrays his team. This epic two-parter has all the good stuff, larger scale action, top notch animation, and at the center is the emotional struggle between a broken family trying to find where their allegiance lies. Magneto of course has always been one of my all-time favorite villains, and this is the episode in which he shines the most, as a manipulative father figure who’s winning over our heroes to his sinister goals. What’s more is that Magneto views his actions as the right course in order to deal with the storm that lies ahead. While season one was the shows weakest, “The Cauldron” remains one of the best episodes, and a superior season finale compared to most of them.  

#2 “X-23” (Season 3: Ep. 41) 

     Of the many things “X-Men Evolution” got right, in my opinion the shows absolute best achievement was creating a completely original character that had never before been featured in the comics, but has gone on to become a fan favorite. In the case of this episode, Wolverine discovers that he has a clone, a younger female clone that was actually the twenty third attempt at replicating him. Yes, before she got her own comics or graced the silver screen in the 2017 movie “Logan”, X-23 made her very first appearance in this series, and sense has always stuck with me as one of my all time favorite X-Men characters. Her premier episode simply titled “X-23” highlights this series at it’s most emotional, as it doesn’t feature any villains for our heroes to fight, and instead focuses on the traumatic backstory of this character, and how she longs to find someone to call family. Initially all she wanted was to kill Wolverine as she blamed him for, well … coming into existence, but then gradually discovers that he’s the very father figure she needed. The final showdown between Wolverine and X-23 is my favorite battle of the whole show, as it’s both an awesome action set-piece, with lots of destruction and a great layout, but it’s also got the heaviest emotional stakes of any fight in the series. The voice acting during this climax is equally strong, especially from Andrea Libman as the voice of X-23, who only has a hand-full of lines, yet conveys so much raw emotion through the performance. Needless to say, I instantly became a fan of this character, and I couldn’t even express in words how happy I was to see her finally make an appearance in a live-action movie.   

With 52 episodes total, there’s several other great episodes I regrettably didn’t include, so here are some very Honorable Mentions … 

Cajun Spice” (Season 4)

The HeX Factor” (Season 2)

Uprising” (Season 4)

Sins of the Son” (Season 4)

Dark Horizon” (Season 3)

"Grim Reminder" (Season 1)

#1 “Day of Reckoning” (Season 2: Ep. 29-30) 

    Throughout the second season, several little pieces were put into play that would all come together in one explosive finale, and as you’d expect from the title, this is when everything goes to hell for our heroes. After two previous seasons of playing it safe, this finale was the moment where shit got real, the threats felt more intense, and events began to feel epic. This was the event that exposed the X-Men and mutants in general to the public, Magneto’s plans of domination are taken to threatening new height’s, the giant Sentinel robots are unleashed to wipe out all mutants, and Mystique finally unleashes her vengeance by kidnapping Professor X, posing as him and aims to kill all our hero’s from within. We also get our first showdown with Magneto’s new team called The Acolytes, which marked my personal introduction to the characters Gambit and Colossus. The final battle with the X-Men battling the giant Sentinel robot is one of the shows best action highlights, and the cliffhanger was one of the most effective I ever experienced in a Saturday morning cartoon. The mansion is destroyed, the X-Men are scattered, some are imprisoned, three of their greatest foes are bearing down on them, the whole nation is likewise hunting them down, and Professor X is hidden somewhere secret. It’s a powerhouse season finale, it marked a significant turning point in the show where nothing was the same again, and it set the stage for bigger and better things to come.

    Aside from us fans that grew up with the series back when it first premiered in the early 2000’s, “X-Men Evolution” may fly under the radar for some comic book fans, or new fans discovering the X-Men. Personally, I say that if you’re a fan of any sort, I highly recommend checking this series out. Over the years, it’s still held up as my personal favorite animated X-Men series, as the characters all felt the most real, and there was a fine balance between large superhero spectacles and subtle human trials. It was a great way to be introduced to so many of my favorite hero’s and it still remains a nostalgic gem to look back on. If your unfamiliar with the show, I hope my list might have peaked your interest and given you a good place to start. Maybe it won’t be regarded as an animated classic, but it’s still a meaningful series from my child hood, and it’s the show that shaped me into the comic book/ superhero fan I am today.