The Marvel Comic superheroes, ’X-Men’ are making their DVD debut now through Universal Home Video’s release of the six-episode animated serial ’The Phoenix Saga.’ Produced as part of the ’Fox Kids’ television programming, the story is well-told, but the animation remains crude for the most part and without notable highlights. Trying to save the entire galaxy from destruction through the evil emperor D’Ken, the X-Men face a tough challenge that seems too much to handle even for them.
Universal Home Video is presenting ’X-Men: The Phoenix Saga’ in its original 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio on this DVD. The image is clean and mostly free of nicks and blemishes, although occasional scratches in the print are visible. The transfer seems to come from a low resolution master however, which introduces a great number of noticeable NTSC artifacts in the picture. Shimmering and aliasing are only a few of the artifacts visible, but also serious color bleeding is evident in the picture which causes the image to lose detail and creates blurry details. Especially all red tones are affected to the point that the character of Red Eric is sometimes indistinguishably blurry and featureless. The compression of the material is good without the introduction of further artifacts, such as pixelation.
’X-Men: The Phoenix Saga’ comes with a Dolby Digital Stereo audio track in English and French language and is closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. The audio is well-produced but without mentionable highlights or problems. Dialogues are well-produced and come across nicely and are always distinguishable.
’The Phoenix Saga’ is a fascinating story taken from the ’X-Men’ universe that masterfully blends space age science fiction with a traditional superhero setting. With its mediocre video presentation, the release sadly doesn’t live up to expectations, but for fans of the animated series it will nonetheless make a welcome addition to their library, if only to replace the worn-out video tape.