I am not sure how many of you remember the popularity of the comicbook GEN 13 from the 90s. It was the best-selling independent comic for nearly five years.
The comic created by Jim Lee and J Scott Campbell was a slight rip-off of The X-Men. Five teens are attending what they think is a school similar to that in X-Men.
When they find out the school is actually run by the military which hopes to farm “genetically enhanced” teenagers into weapons, the teen escape.
The reason for the comics success was while X-Men was convoluted, confusing and written for people over the age 30, GEN 13 was written for people in their teens and early twenties. It also wasn’t your garden variety comic book. The art was sexy, risque and cool.
One of the characters was a lesbian and these were smart pro-active teens. The characters were cool, relaxed and relatable. It was also quite a funny book.
Disney wanted to capitalize on the success of GEN 13 so they bought the film rights to the property and hired former Batman: The Animated Series director Kevin Altieri to head up the project.
The straight-to-DVD movie was also going to follow the spirit of the comic by reaching that key demographic. It was also going to be a risk to Disney because the film wasn’t exactly going to be geared towards its main audience.
The movie was completed in 1999 and saw release in Asia and Australia but when the comic books publishing company Wildstorm was purchased by
Warner Bros around the same time, Disney quickly stopped the distribution of the
film and shelved it. So the film never saw the light of day and became an urban legend at Comic-Cons.
The film itself was quite good if you can find it. But trying to find a watchable copy is next to impossible. The action, animation, and voice cast is all first rate. You have starlet Alicia Witt as the team’s leader Caitlin Fairchild, Red Hot Chili Peppers Flea as Grunge and Star Trek: TNG’s John DeLancie as John Lynch.
I did have one or two problems with the film but I am sure that they would have been fixed if a full release of the film ever happened. There is some pacing issues and out of place Japanese Anime influences to the style of the film like when Caitlin grows into her impenetrable alter-ego. As Caitlin grows she pops out of her clothes. I pretty sure this is something the Disney execs got nervous about.
I really wish that this would be a film that Disney would finally release on DVD. I am dying to see a good copy of this film. I really do think this film needs to be seen.
3.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer