X2: X-Men United (2003) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Action / Science Fiction / Thriller|
|Fox || PG13 - 134 minutes - $34.98 || April 21, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-02|
Writer(s): Zak Penn and David Hayter & Bryan Singer (story), Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris and David Hayter (screenplay)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, Anna Paquin
Theatrical Release Date: May 2, 2003
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X2: X-Men United continues the main storyline of the original as a battle is brewing between the humans and mutants. At the center on the mutant side is Professor Xavier (Stewart) who believes in the human species and Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto (McKellan) who would like nothing more than to annihilate the human race. On the other side are the humans, where in this film is led by General William Stryker (Cox), and a central figure in the creation of another mutant named Wolverine (Jackman).
Anyways, the two mutants who have different visions of humans team up (as it were) to stop Stryker from his evil plan to rid the planet of mutants. To get this plan off the ground, he invades the mutant school and takes some key equipment to aid him in his efforts.
The returning characters include: Storm (Halle Berry), Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), villainous Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Pyro (Aaron Stanford- played by Alex Burton) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore). This time, though, director Singer brings us a new hero (my new favorite) in Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), a mutant who can transport himself in an instant to wherever he wants.
The casting is brilliant for not only this film but the original as well. The fact is, each character gets his or her own screen time with the possible exception of Wolverine who is the central figure in this planned trilogy.
The actors themselves each do a great job with their roles and seemed to have grown into them nicely. Halle Berry, as we know, is a versatile actress, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and finally Hugh Jackman, all give great performances. I also cannot leave out youngsters Anna Paquin, Aaron Stanford and Shawn Ashmore all set us up for the future in the franchise, as, I believe, their roles will be even more significant.
You've got to hand it to director Bryan Singer who gives a visual palette of what a comic book should look like on the big screen (also succeeded by Sam Raimi for Spider-Man, though). From the first frame, I can imagine these penciled and inked on paper. The characters themselves are so out there and the costumes and set designs come flying from the Marvel comic book pages. Singer is an excellent director who can handle both indie and big budget flicks alike.
One can't forget to mention the score in these types of movies. John Ottman is really a talented person (he served as editor on this film and also directed a few films as well) who not only gives a brilliant score that is vital because it not only carries a film (frankly every film does that) but also brings the comic feeling much like Danny Elfman's work on Batman and Spider-Man.
X2: X-Men United is one of the better comic book adaptations ever made, probably 2b to Spider-Man 2’s 2a, with The Dark Knight taking the top spot. Watching it again after a couple of years, I appreciated the film’s emotional center even more and how Bryan Singer was able to effectively distribute each character. It’s a shame he and Fox could not come to an agreement for the third X-Men, it would’ve been an entirely different film.
As with my Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut Blu-ray review, I will just give a rundown on each feature. Also note, from what I could tell, all the features have been ported over from the DVD release.
The first disc starts with two feature commentaries, one with Director Bryan Singer and Cinematographer Tom Sigel and the second with producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winters, and Writers Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter.
BD-Live – Via this portal, you can watch a sneak peek at X-Men Origins: Wolverine and other Fox-related material. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
D-Box Motion Control – With this you can get the full theater experience, of course first you need to shell out major cash to get the equipment to appreciate it. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
The second disc is split into 4 parts and definitely felt more expansive than the original BD/DVD.
“The History of the X-Men”
The Secret Origins of X-Men (15:26) covers the comic book aspects of the history of the X-Men with interviews with Stan Lee and others at Marvel Comics.
Nightcrawler Reborn (7:37) is the history of the Nightcrawler character in the comic book going over his various appearances and his one-shot by Frank Miller.
Nightcrawler Attack: Multi-Angle Study allows you to see the opening scene from four different angles.
Evolution in the Details: Designing X2 (18:01) – The production designer gives an on-set tour and shows us some of tricks of the trade with reproducing set details.
United Colors of X (8:57) – Like the previous featurette, this one has the costume designer showing off some of the costumes from the sequel and how they are different from the first movie.
Wolverine/Deathstroke Fight Rehearsal (1:24) is all too short look at the work that went into rehearsing one of the fight sequences near the climax.
The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men: Making X2 (59:27) this massive, all expansive, making-of is what I love to see on these sets. Although I appreciate the shorter featurettes, when you get one that goes from the beginning to end, you get the most information possible, short of a day to day documentary (a la Oldboy).
Introducing the Incredible Nightcrawler (9:49) – Yet another featurette on Nightcrawler and the casting of Alan Cummings to the role, who almost couldn’t do it due to scheduling conflicts (rumor has it Ethan Embry was set for the role before Cumming’s schedule cleared up).
Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal (2:27) – Yeah, another one, this we get to see some rehearsal footage from the opening sequence.
Nightcrawler Time-lapse (3:40) is the last featurette on this character and probably the most interesting just to see how much time it took to apply the make-up to Alan Cumming’s face (apparently it took something like 10 hours to apply the full body make-up).
FX2: Visual Effects (24:58) – Another extensive featurette, this one on the visual effects on X2 with comparison shots and trying to out-due the effects from the original.
Requiem for Mutants: The Score of X2 (11:39) – With Nightcrawler getting several featurettes, it’s good to see some recognition for composer John Ottman and his X2 score.
X2 Global Webcast Highlights (17:01) was a live webcast where Bryan Singer answered questions from fans about the (then) upcoming X-Men sequel.
Last are 11 deleted scenes (11:58), several galleries including “Characters”, “Locations and Sets”, “Mutant X-Rays”, “Nightcrawler Circus Posters”, “On-Camera Graphics” and “The Unseen X2” plus 3 theatrical trailers (HD).
The third disc contains a digital copy that you can use on your iPod or WMV. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
X2: X-Men United is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition for the first time on Blu-ray. Overall, the film looks great in HD with nice mixture of colors and black levels. I found the picture to be sharp and clear without the (at least major) use of edge enhancement and outside of some noise here and there, this looks to be a solid transfer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese in Dolby Digital 5.1) sounds excellent with a good distribution of audio from Xavier’s opening dialogue which comes not just through the center channel, but the side ones as well. John Ottman’s score, and underrated X-Men theme, sounds excellent making use of every available channel. This isn’t the best audio I’ve ever heard, but it is still pretty good.
X2: X-Men United is certainly one of the best comic book-to-screen adaptations I’ve seen, probably only second to The Dark Knight. This Blu-ray release ports over everything from the DVD release with a couple “exclusives” like BD-Live and a digital copy, but the biggest thing is an upgraded audio and video.