What went down five years ago was this crazy experiment in nanotechnology; things went horribly, horribly awry, resulting in nanites released unto the world, these microscopic machine parasites that mutate their biological hosts into mindless, rampaging monsters dubbed E.V.O.s (Exponentially Variegated Organism). Five years later, we run into Rex, a fifteen year old kid and himself an E.V.O. Except that, for some unfathomable reason, Rex has full control over his infection. He demonstrates the ability to manifest mechanical gadgets and weaponry from his limbs. Or he does at least until his biometrics get depleted (basically, this happens when he's stressing out). Rex fights the good fight against the out-of-control monster Evos. Rex can communicate with nanites to some extent, can even absorb nanites from other Evos, thus converting these Evos back to humanity, in effect, curing them.
Rex keeps room and board with the secretive, very constricting Providence group. Providence is dedicated to stamping out the Evos, although the organization can't seem to help but hire military-issue grunts armed with hi-tech weapons who regularly get their heinies handed to them. Rex is unique and valuable enough that Providence assigns him a watchdog in the shape of the stoic, deadpan Agent 6 (think THE MATRIX's Mr. Smith except 6 is a good dude... and has a soul patch). There are two nurturing influences in Rex's life. One is his constant companion, Bobo Haha, who is a chimpanzee that sports an eye patch and talks and wears a diaper (although the chimp calls it a "simian undergarment"). And so, okay, maybe Bobo isn't so nurturing. Then there's the lovely Doctor Holiday who tries to be a mother figure for Rex, except Rex keeps flirting with her. Is it any wonder that Rex - who is at that teen stage in his life - frequently chafes under the constraints placed on him by Providence? Of course the boy would act out, would persist in running away again and again. It doesn't help that he's got no early memories of his life. There's a bit of a dark side to Rex, and to this series as well. Makes it cooler.
GENERATOR REX quickly constructs its own world mythology. It makes for a nice change that the entire world is very much aware of the Nanite Event and the Evos. In the debut episode, Rex meets the series' central villain, Van Kleiss, a crazy powerful Evo with seemingly absolute control over his native habitat. We learn that Van Kleiss has direct ties not only to the Nanite Event five years ago but to Rex himself. And then there's also Van Kleiss's Pack of Evo cronies. Sucks for Rex ----- and here's a SPOILER alert for the rest of this sentence ----- that the girl he meets and crushes on in the third episode ("Beyond the Sea") ends up joining the Pack.
GENERATOR REX comes from the Man of Action creative team, and it's only natural that this show is a bit reminiscent of BEN 10, in its sci-fi sensibilities and in its fun, action-oriented tone. Kids falling into those 'tween ages make the ideal audience. Admittedly, this series doesn't much indulge in strong character development. The cast is pretty much cut from generic, cookie cutter molds, with emo Evo girl Circe coming off as the show's most interesting character, mostly by default. Breach, one of the Pack Evos and whose power is translocation, is strangely sympathetic in "Breach" (a great episode in which Rex wakes up in a school inhabited by creepy dolls). Rex himself is straight out of central casting, the rebellious kid struggling with his own identity and who keeps on making these rash decisions but with the best intentions in mind. But Rex is only looking to fit in. He does grow on you.
It's a compelling-looking freak show. Think RESIDENT EVIL-lite. The monsters earn the show some cool points for their variety and for their visualization, and some of them look gross indeedy. Check out those icky zombie things in "String Theory." Lots of big frenetic action sequences. Agent 6 is just unflappable, even when he's doing his martial arts thing, and I dig the swords that spring out of his sleeves. But Rex's power is wicked sick, man. Rex generates weapons that are scaled to truly mammoth proportions, and that's part of the show's neat gimmick. Size matters, yo. It's bloody brilliant watching him pound on the mutant beasties.
GENERATOR REX Vol. 1 is a 2-DVD set and gives us Season One's first nine episodes, and, yep, nine episodes are ample enough that I can't front on this collection. By the ninth episode, Rex finally begins to unearth details regarding his enigmatic past. Still, for those with an eye at the big picture, sooner or later, they're bound to release a full season DVD set. So you may want to hold out for that day. The bonus material ain't much: Orange's music video of "Revolution" (GENERATOR REX's theme song) and the brief "Evolution of Evos," which is basically a character design segment. The nine episodes featured are:
- Episode #101 - "The Day That Everything Changed"
- Episode #102 - "String Theory"
- Episode #103 - Beyond the Sea"
- Episode #104 - "Lockdown"
- Episode #105 - "The Architect"
- Episode #106 - "Frostbite"
- Episode #107 - "Leader of the Pack"
- Episode #108 - "Breach"
- Episode #109 - "Dark Passage"