Generation X, a 1996 made-for-TV movie is an interesting diversion, if little else, based on the comic book series created by Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo. Yet, the camp story, low production values, and stereotyping ruin what could otherwise have been a good translation.
When teens Jubilation Lee/Jubilee (Heather McComb), who can project pyrokinetic power, and Angelo Espinosa/Skin (Agustin Rodriguez), who can elongate his skin, are taken to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, they encounter other teen mutants. There, the school’s headmasters, Sean Cassidy/Banshee (Jeremy Ratchford) and Emma Frost/The White Queen (Finola Huges), try to teach them how to cope with their mutant powers. Meanwhile, mad scientist Russel Tresh (Matt Frewer) tries to use Angelo to continue his dream world experiments.
When the film focuses on the characters, particularly Jubilee, Skin, Banshee, and the White Queen, and even the watered-down M, Mondo, and Husk and Chamber replacements, Buff and Refrax, it’s actually quite an entertaining story about teenagers trying to fit into a world that is hostile towards them. In fact, the whole mutants as different from humans theme is a good metaphor for the teen issue of feeling different from everyone else.
Yet, the overarching plot about Tresh’s desire to control the dream world, while interesting as a concept, is never thoroughly explored, and Frewer portrays Tresh in such an over-the-top manner, that it’s hard to take it seriously. Moreover, the odd camera angles director Jack Sholder uses give the story an otherworldly feel, detracting from the real-world elements.
Had the story focused more on the characters, their relationships, personal developments, and retained Husk and Chamber from the comics (they were replaced for special effects and budgetary concerns) then it might have been a classic. As it stands, however, Generation X is an average film that fans of the comics might enjoy as a curiosity, but everyone else should avoid.