But the producers, director Jack Sholder and scripter Eric Blakeney have succeeded in creating a well-planned telefilm, which taps every nuance that made this a top-selling comic series. Vidpic also provides plenty of special effects and feats of derring-do to keep even the most disenfranchised slacker tuned in.
Blakeney’s script also uses the superheroes’ uniqueness — and their ostracism — to explore social problems facing the targeted demographic.
Emma (White Queen) Frost (Finola Hughes) and Sean (Banshee) Cassidy (Jeremy Ratchford) run the Xavier Institute, a school where teenage mutants learn to harness their powers for good instead of evil.
Mondo (Bumper Robinson) can absorb the physical properties of anything he touches; Arlee (Buff) Hicks (Suzanne Davis) is an insecure girl with out-of-control musculature; Kurt (Refrax) Pastorius (Randall Slavin) can melt glass with his optic beams and see through solid objects; and stunning Monet (M) St. Croix (Amarilis) is a young woman with a perfect physique and an intellect so advanced she’d outsmart Einstein.
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Introduced to the group at Xavier are Jubilation (Jubilee) Lee (Heather McComb) and Angelo (Skin) Espinosa (Agustin Rodriguez). Because Jubilee can’t control the energy bursting out of her fingertips, she is targeted by authorities as a violator of the mutant aggression act, where punishment is banishment to an internment camp. Skin, meanwhile, possesses the ability to stretch to almost any length.
The six superheroes prepare for life in an unfriendly and treacherous world, where the chief architect of doom is Russell Tresh (Matt Frewer), a maniacal (yet likable) sort whose ideas for controlling the minds of consumers are reminiscent of Madison Avenue execs on LSD.
Frewer’s character and perf mine familiar territory — a sort of Max Headroom meets the Riddler. Despite the lack of originality, the actor’s work is just over the top enough to be interesting.
Ratchford’s even-keel demeanor and Scottish accent serve as the perfect foil to the often wicked way in which Hughes presents her Emma.
Otherwise, performances by the attractive actors are well-intentioned, but nothing special. This allows the show’s special effects and Douglas Higgins’ production design — complete with pastel and fluorescent set colors, as well as gadgets that even “M” would envy — easily to take center stage.