Directed by Jesse Cote
Starring Mark Hildreth, Laura Harris, and Brian Drummond
Created by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
The fourth and final arc in Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s run brings the story to a climatic finish, but how well does it play out once it’s in motion… comic?
The “Unstoppable” arc wraps up Whedon and Cassaday’s landmark run on the X-Men. While the second “Dangerous” and third “Torn” arcs are arguably lackluster compared to the bang of a start that was the initial “Gifted”, this is where it all comes together in a climatic finish that brings the story to its peak of storytelling and excitement.
The X-Men are jettisoned off to Breakworld, the planet prophesized to be destroyed by the X-Man Colossus and the home of their new adversary Ord. Basically, not an all-around friendly place for our merry mutants. In an uneasy alliance with Agent Brand of Earth’s extraterrestrial defense agency S.W.O.R.D., the X-Men fight their way through Breakworld’s military might to stop Breakworld’s doomsday weapon from destroying Earth.
Whedon’s writing is in top form in this arc. The constant action and running around is kept at a fast pace. Even when characters are talking and planning, you’re still on a rollercoaster ride. Speaking of talking, Whedon’s trademark witty dialog is peppered throughout, with every character having plenty of good one-liners. There’s really no low point in this particular arc.
The most surprising (and possibly the most impressive) of Whedon’s story is how likeable and badass he makes Cyclops. Cyclops, typically the butt of lame boy scout jokes, becomes a hardened and competent leader, with a good mix of strategy and action. Whedon shows you why Scott is ultimately the perennial leader of the X-Men.
Sadly, not all the acting is up to par. For the most part, it’s averagely decent. Mark Hildreth’s Cyclops is probably the best example. On the other hand, Colossus’ bad Russian accent makes it hard to take him seriously. And often, every actor falls flat on an emotional or humorous line, leaving the audience let down. I suspect part of this could be bad audio directing or editing, with some dialog almost running unnaturally together.
As with the previous releases, this one too divides each issue into their own short episodes, annoyingly playing credits between each one. That leads to roughly a three-minute break every ten minutes, making it very difficult to stay in the story with these constant interruptions.
This “Unbreakable” arc is probably the high point of an already acclaimed series, all rightfully so. The only down side to this experience is sadly on the motion comic side – bad acting and disjointed credit breaks. Otherwise, it’s an excellent example of comic story telling.
The Video and Audio
The art drops quality from paper to motion video, not appearing as sharp and crisp as Cassaday and his team originated. The animation itself is pretty jerky, laughably so at times. It’s in stark contrast against unmoving backgrounds and other elements in the shot. All together, it’s distracting from the story at hand
The singular problem with the audio is the poor leveling between sound effects and dialog. The dialog constantly loses out to sound effects, making occasional lines inaudible. Given that Whedon’s dialog is a selling point of the story, that’s not a good thing.
To make matters worse, there are no subtitles. When you can’t hear the dialog, I guess you’re out of luck.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The same as the previous release, this final arc comes on a single disc in a cardboard case, with no extras. That’s it.
Overall (Not an Average)
“Unstoppable” is my favorite part of Whedon and Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men. It’s climatic action and characterization is at its best in this arc. I even still enjoyed it in the motion comic form, but that’s because I look past the weak adaptation to the strong story I already know. If you had to get a motion comic, if they’re you’re thing, then Astonishing X-Men is a great story to go with. Having already seen the Blu-Ray though, I have to recommend it over this standard, no-thrills DVD.
The Film 8/10
The Video and Audio 3/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 2/10
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10