X-Men: The Phoenix Saga

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Trailer (Full Frame, Dolby Digital 2.0)
Rating pg.gif (1010 bytes)
Year Released 1992
Running Time
106:31 Minutes
(Not 110 Minutes as per packaging)
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Richard Bowman
Saban International
Universal Home Video
Starring Catherine Disher
Alyson Court
Phil Aiken
Dennis Akayama
Lawrence Bayne
Rick Bennett
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Shuki Levy
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The X-Men franchise has been one of Marvel Comics' most successful properties, although you wouldn't know it from the lack of publicity it has been given in the midst of all the recent comic-book adaptations. Several television series attempting to adapt the comic book have appeared in the past eleven years, beginning with 1989's Pryde Of The X-Men, and currently weathering through last year's big-screen adaptation as well as the X-Men: Evolution series. X-Men: The Phoenix Saga is part of a television series that was originally broadcast in the USA during 1992, and one of the many criticisms of the series that has surfaced since is that too many liberties were taken with the comic book canon. Whereas the liberties taken in the recent film adaptation were minor and forgivable (showing characters such as Rogue and Iceman in younger incarnations was, in my opinion, a masterful stroke that gave the story a sense of having a past), the liberties taken here are widely held to be too great. The Phoenix Saga and its follow-up The Dark Phoenix Saga are said to be the only storylines that had decent adaptations during the 1992 television series, so we may as well dive right in.

    The episodes contained on this disc are:

    Try as I might, I just can't get up the strength to watch this collection of episodes once again, although I am sure that hard-core fans of X-Men will find some value in this. To everyone else, I recommend skipping past this collection and going with the recent live-action film, which has much better characterizations and plot movement.

Transfer Quality


    In a word, this transfer is ugly.

    It is presented Full Frame and naturally is not 16x9 Enhanced. The sharpness of this transfer is good, but this is definitely not the best example of animation on DVD that you can find. The shadow detail of this transfer is adequate, but only really called for once in all five episodes. There is no low-level noise to spoil the image.

    The colour saturation is everything that I've come to expect from animation: collections of overly bright hues with little or no gradations between them. This is probably the biggest reason why I prefer live-action films of my favourite comic book characters, the better qualities of the plots aside.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts, on the other hand, are an extreme problem for this transfer, which has clearly been taken from interlaced source material. The problem that this causes is that the image shown on the screen updates one half at a time, which can clearly be seen whenever the programme is played back at anything other than normal speed. In a word, this artefact looks ugly, and its presence on this disc is a good reminder of the reason why digital television is progressive. Adding to the fun is the presence of telecine wobble in Episode 2, at 02:14. A combined telecine wobble and interlaced picture is quite seriously enough to make your eyes water when it is rendered at DVD's resolution. Aliasing is a real problem for this transfer, too, with most every shot in the entire programme affected by aliasing, which only became distracting after a while because of its prevalence. Composite artefacts, such as dot crawl around the edges of objects, was also present throughout the credits and at 15:14 in Episode 4. Film artefacts consisted of some white marks across the picture that were noticeable, but forgivable because they were not especially frequent.

    This disc is Dual Layered, but the layer change appears to have been sensibly placed between episodes.


    The packaging for this DVD claims that there are five soundtracks: an English Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack, and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. I'm glad they got the number and languages of the soundtracks right, because the rest is quite questionable to say the least.

    In reality, there are five soundtracks on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, a French dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, a German dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, an Italian dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, and a Spanish dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. All of these soundtracks have been allocated a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second, which seems perfectly adequate given that these episodes were definitely produced with analogue television in mind. The dialogue is always clear and easy to make out, all the better for you to laugh or cringe at. Where they find script-writers for these cartoon series, I honestly don't know. There are no perceptible problems with audio sync.

    The score music in these episodes is credited to Shuki Levy, but I am hard-pressed to remember anything about it now that I have finished listening to it. In that sense, it is little different to all of the music I have heard from other animated television shows.

    Being that this is a straight stereo soundtrack, the surround channels were not used at all. During the second episode, I briefly engaged the Pro-Logic mode of my amplifier and found that it didn't do the quality of the soundtrack any real favours. Similarly, the subwoofer was not specifically used by this soundtrack.



    The menu is static and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. Navigation is pretty straightforward.


    Not so much a trailer as a commercial for episodes of the X-Men animated series being released on VHS and DVD. The commercial is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

    Reliable reviews of this DVD in Region 1 are scant, but it appears that the two versions are pretty much the same. I strongly recommend buying neither version of this DVD since the plot is atrocious and the video quality really is unpleasant to look at, and I cannot imagine the Region 1 version being any different.


    X-Men: The Phoenix Saga falls flat after viewing the marvellous live-action adaptation. Hard-core devotees of the mutant superheroes will lap this up, but I'd advise anyone else to look elsewhere.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
February 2, 2000 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer