X-Men Trilogy (2000) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Science Fiction
Fox || PG13 - 342 minutes - $79.98 || April 21, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-05


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Bryan Singer, Brett Ratner
Writer(s): X-Men: Tom DeSanto & Bryan Singer (story), David Hayter (screenplay); X2: Zak Penn and David Hayter & Bryan Singer (story), Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris and David Hayter (screenplay); X-Men The Last Stand: Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn (written by)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Sanford, Rebecca Romijn, Bruce Davison, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Kelly Hu, Kelsey Grammer, Vinnie Jones


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 5 Audio Commentaries
  • 26 Featurettes
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Various Features
  • Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • BD-Live
  • Digital Copies


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 6.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital EX 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin

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.::THE FILM::.

I will provide some short thoughts on each film but if you want to read more, I have also provided links to the individual reviews.

X-MEN ***¾ / *****

For the most part, X-Men was a successful film both in terms of box office and quality. As an origin film, Bryan Singer made an entertaining and action-packed film with a solid ensemble cast and some decent writing (I could’ve done without the lame one-liners). The film also made stars out of Halle Berry and, more so, Hugh Jackman, whose character gets a solo movie with X-Men Origins: Wolverine coming out in May (2009).

Despite the film losing a slight edge of the years (it is a fairly simple story), I still found it to be an enjoyable film and one of the better superhero flicks behind only a select few. What it does pretty well is setting up future sequels, adding a certain excitement to see the next chapter as soon as possible (not unlike Batman Begins). Read More...

X2: X-MEN UNITED ****½ / *****

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. Read More...

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND ***½ / *****

It’s been a few years since I last saw X-Men: The Last Stand and while the movie is entertaining and all, it never could live up to the high ideals that X2 set. It didn’t help that director Bryan Singer left taking his talented writing crew with him to do Superman Returns but one has to wonder when you get movies like an X2, Spider-Man 2 or, most recently, The Dark Knight, how something with so much potential could squander it? I have nothing against Brett Ratner, in fact I think he’s a capable enough director (see: Red Dragon), but an action movie director he is not.

In any case, when you pull back the curtain you get a movie with mildly entertaining story and semi-energetic action sequences with little at its core in terms of a soul save for a moment here and there, especially near the end. I’m not asking for Oscar-caliber writing or acting here, but give me something or someone to care about. X2 set it all up, it should’ve been a grand slam and instead it was more like a sacrifice hit so that one more run could be scored. In spite of having three years for this movie to come out, The Last Stand felt more like a lazy movie with untapped potential. Read More...



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All three BDs come with a BD-Live portal and D-Box Motion Control on disc 1 and a digital copy on the third disc. All three are ** Blu-ray Exclusives ** and the DC is actually exclusive to this trilogy set.

X-MEN ***** / *****

DISC 1:
The set opens with an informative and friendly audio commentary by Bryan Singer and Brian Peck. I’ve always enjoyed Singer’s commentaries and this one is no different. My only wish even now is that a couple of the main actors would’ve joined...

Enhanced Viewing Mode (63:59) can be watched in conjunction with the film, individually or via a “Play All” option. This features behind-the-scenes footage along with the deleted scenes.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (11:02) – There are six scenes that for the most part weren’t really needed. An optional commentary with Singer and Peck is available if you want an explanation why they were not used.

FOX Special: The Mutant Watch (21:57) contains some interviews with the cast and crew explaining the story of the X-Men movie and it’s intertwined with a Senate session led by Senator Kelly railing against Mutants.

Charlie Rose Interview with Bryan Singer (6:17) has six segments with the director talking about “Why he made X-Men”, “Bringing X-Men from the Comic Book to the Big Screen”, “Directing Actors”, “Learning from Actors” and “The Challenge of Making a Studio Film”.

There are also a couple Animatics (2:03) including an Art Gallery (Character and Production Designs), 3 TV Spots (1:36), a music promo (0:31) some Marvel Universe Trailers.

DISC 2:
Intro by Bryan Singer (1:09) on the set of X2 explaining how it’s not his nature to release multiple DVDs...

Evolution X allows you to go deeper into the selected topics while you watch. During the documentary, an X-Men icon pops up; you press enter to view the additional material. These can be watched individually when selecting each segment on the menu.

5-Part Interactive Documentary (2:16:39)
The Uncanny Suspects (24:16) introduces us to the cast of X-Men (Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, etc), explaining their experience with the comic book (or television). Also features interviews with members of the crew, including Bryan Singer, as well.

X-Factor: The Look of X-Men (22:47) goes over the style Bryan Singer wanted for the costume and make-up for the X-Men. This features screen tests of the actors and concept art.

X-Men Production Scrapbook (63:26) – This is a raw behind-the-scenes look at the production of X-Men beginning with a roundtable introduction of various members of the crew (director, editor, executive producer, assistants, etc). I actually prefer these kind of featurettes because there’s a bit of truth rather than the typical PC/BS we hear with interviews.

The Visual Effects of X-Men (17:28) – Bryan Singer explains the importance of visual effects for the film. Features pre-visualizations and more behind-the-scenes footage and how certain elements are filmed and combined.

Reflection of the X-Men Retrospective (8:38) – From the set of X2, cast and crew recall their experience working on the first X-Men and the wild success the film had on audiences and at the box office.

Finally, we get three X-Men trailers (5:25), 9 more TV Spots (4:46) and Internet Interstitials (11:00). I should note the trailers are presented in widescreen.


X2: X-MEN UNITED ***** / *****

DISC 1:
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.

DISC 2:
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.

“Pre-Production”
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.

“Production”
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.

“Post-Production”
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).


X-MEN: THE LAST STAND ***** / *****

DISC 1:
Disc one starts out with two feature commentaries, the first with Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn and the second featuring Producers Avi Arad, Lauren Schuler Donner and Ralph Winter.

Next up are all 24 deleted scenes (19:02) with optional commentary with Ratner, Kinberg and Penn. Apparently only a number of the initial DVD releases of X-Men: The Last Stand contained all 24 scenes while others only had 13. Nothing in these stand out too much but there were a couple that I think would be great to include if Fox ever decides to release an “Extended Cut”...

There is also Marvel Universe Trailers.

DISC 2:
Brett Ratner’s Production Diary (41:21) is usually a staple on any of his DVDs and this one is basically a look at behind-the-scenes filming of X-Men: The Last Stand with a basic camera. We get to see both actual filming and rehearsals with Ratner directing the actors.

X-Men: Evolution of a Trilogy (44:58) – This featurette/documentary is almost a long Cliff’s Notes of the three movies going through each film with the growth of some of the character across the films. Featuring interviews/sound bites with the cast and crew talking about their characters and about each other.

X3: The Excitement Continues (21:16) is a ‘making-of’ featurette re-introducing us to the returning cast and the newcomers including director Brett Ratner. It features more interviews with the cast and crew commenting on how the third movie evolved from X2 and what Ratner brought to the project (supposedly more emotion according to one producer... yeah, OK).

X-Men Up Close – You can check out Wikipedia-like info on each of all the characters and find out various things such as their powers, history and pics. It also includes short clips for each from the actors.

Anatomy of a Scene: Golden Gate Bridge (12:03) goes through the complexities of putting together of the major action sequences from the film.

General X: Comic Book History (68:32) is an amazing and very extensive look at the “X-Men” comic book, how it began and how it eventually found success later down the road. This massive documentary features various artists and writers at Marvel who worked on the book over the years. I could be wrong, but I think this was originally available (in the States) as a part of a bonus DVD at Wal-Mart. THIS is why Marvel DVDs/BDs will always dominate over anything Warner/DC Comics will ever release...

Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School (26:14) and Casting Session (10:05) – The “Film School” featurette has three film students asking questions of producer Ralph Winter about the Hollywood process while “Casting Session” covers the, well, casting of the film and how important it is to make a good movie.

Vignettes (27:05) – There are seven short featurettes covering various topics: “Prophecies”, “X-Men Politics”, “Clothing vs. Costume”, “Make-Up Chair Confessions”, “Weapons of Choice”, “On Set Effects” and “Learning to Fly”. This is a good collection of featurettes that gives some insight into the making of X-Men 3.

Finally we get a few blogs (14:17) used to tease the fanboys, 20 Previz Animatics (25:45), a few galleries and 3 trailers.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

VIDEO:
X-MEN **** / *****

X-Men makes its debut on Blu-ray with a nice looking high-def transfer (1080p, MPEG-4 AVC, 2.35 OAR) on a 50GB Blu-ray disc. For the most part it looks like Fox has done a good job as the video quality looks good with skin tones and black levels looking about right. I did find certain scenes to be a tad soft but overall images looked quite sharp and I noticed very little instances of noise or dust/scratches, an achievement for a movie that is nine years old.

X2: X-MEN UNITED ****½ / *****

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.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND ****½ / *****

This is actually the second Blu-ray release of X-Men: The Last Stand but having not owned that version, I couldn’t tell you if the audio or picture is any different (probably not). But as for the video on this release, it does look very good though I did tend to notice a couple dust marks every so often, but not enough that it was distracting. Other than that, the picture was fairly sharp, skin tones looked about right and the black levels were good. It’s not a pristine video presentation, but still quite good overall. The movie is presented in its OAR of 2.40, in 1080p HD and on a 50GB Blu-ray disc.


AUDIO:
X-MEN ****½ / *****

The audio side is quite impressive that started with the opening title sequence and Michael Kamen’s incredible score (well, the score itself was OK, but it sounds great coming over my speakers). The DTS-HD Master (lossless) Audio sounds fantastic and even though I can’t say it’s the best I’ve heard (a title that goes to The Incredible Hulk), it is certainly one of the better audio tracks that have come to Blu-ray. Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

X2: X-MEN UNITED ****¾ / *****

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track 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.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND ***** / *****

The original DVD release sported a DTS ES 6.1 track so it should come to no surprise that the 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds amazing with rich crisp sound that isn’t overwhelming (i.e. just loud) but instead encompassed the entire room evenly. The climatic action scene at the end, not to mention John Powell’s score, sounds great.



.::OVERALL::.

The X-Men Trilogy is jammed packed with some amazing special features, nice-looking video quality and excellent DTS-HD MA audio. The price is actually not too bad on Amazon ($55.99 at the time of this writing) and it is worth every penny, and yes that includes The Last Stand. You can get them individually but if you’re anything like me, just getting the outer box is worth any extra cost. Obviously if/when Fox decides to release X-Men 4, there is always a possibility for yet another Blu-ray box set, but I doubt any significant new material (if any) will be added, so might as well pick it up now.