Image Comics came out of the blue, a company created by names such as Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee who unlike other major publishers, allowed the artists to retain rights to their properties. In 1993, Gen13 became one of those titles and seven years later, it would be released as an animated movie. Much like the tone of the comic, the animation remained geared toward young adult, but like with many superhero titles of the 90’s, it featured narrow waists, large biceps, and breasts. While looking lie it’d be perfect for Saturday morning cartoons like its WildC.A.T.’s counterpart, it would have given my parents a slack jaw as we watched.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the movie’s plot is somewhat of a mess. Trying to condense seven years worth of story into an hour and a half is tedious at best. The story follows Caitlin Fairchild who is given a scholarship to attend a National Security Council school. School is a loose term. They train like soldiers. They study like Harvard medical students. Their social interactions are awkward. Caitlin meets Grunge, a surfer dude with horrible voice acting and Roxie, a shy mischief who is constantly looking for her next cigarette. There are shower scenes, near naked scenes, hell, even wearing clothes it looks as if breasts may tear through the fabric causing an animated nip slip.
When Caitlin discovers her parents were part of a secret organization, she finds herself the sleeping victim of a gene therapy in an attempt to make her “go gene active.” It’s only later when confronted by a fight or flight response, she grows and finds herself with superhuman strength. Her breasts literally tear themselves from her suit. Apparently the breasts earlier were foreshadowing. From here, the plot runs wild as we discover a man seeking to be their mentor and giving information bout Caitlin’s parents that seems oddly placed and useless to the plot. She frees herself and flees the facility only to turn around and run back in a final show down. We see Grunge use his material-synching abilities shortly thereafter but it’s Roxie who seems to have the “aha” moment despite being a throw away character.
At an hour and twenty minutes, it feels like the last thirty minutes are a story trying to wrap itself up. It doesn’t feel rushed, it feels like a hot mess on the television. If the dialogue wasn’t terrible, the motives are, and even the fights themselves seem out of nowhere. I wanted to like this film, a slice of my childhood, and maybe it would have worked when I was sixteen, but as an adult, it lacked coherence. Unfortunately, not even sexual innuendo could save this superhero animated film adaptation.