X2: X-Men United
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Film Length: 134 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 2:35:1
Audio:English DTS 5.1, English DD 5.1, French & Spanish Dolby Surround
Subtitled in English and Spanish
-2 different commentaries. 1st: Bryan Singer & Tom Sigel 2nd:Lauren Shuler Donner - Ralph Winter - Michael Dougherty - Dan Harris - David Hayter
-Tons more! Look at the extras section of this review
Release Date: November 25th, 2003
Bryan Singer made such a better movie than the first X-Men with X2: X-Men United. The X-Men are back, and better than ever. Willing to shoot first and ask questions later, this movie is jam packed with X-Men action. This is the X-Men movie I wanted in the first film! Finally, we have a little more realistic approach with fighting that actually produces dead bodies. This is important for me because that is how it happened in the comic books. This movie just felt more realistic as a whole. I know that may sound weird saying that about a movie with mutants and extraordinary powers, but, the movie makers have to sell us the fantasy world. I feel that X2 does that much better this time around.
Here is the synopsis from the official X2 website. I am sure this will be on the back cover of the DVD as I did not received final product. I only received 2 disks in sleeves with X2 Disk #1 and X2 Disk #2 printed on them. Synopsis "Mutants continue their struggle against a society that fears and distrusts them. Their cause becomes even more desperate following an incredible attack by an as yet undetermined assailant possessing extraordinary abilities. The shocking attack renews the political and public outcry for a Mutant Registration Act and an anti-mutant movement now led by William Stryker, a wealthy former Army commander who is rumored to have experimented on mutants. Stryker's mutant "work" is somehow tied to Logan's mysterious and forgotten past. As Wolverine searches for clues to his origin, Stryker puts into motion his anti-mutant program - launching an attack on Xavier’s mansion. Magneto, newly escaped from his plastic prison, proposes a partnership with the X-Men to combat their common and formidable enemy: Stryker. With the fates of Xavier, mankind, and mutantkind, in their hands, the X-Men face their most dangerous mission ever."
We start off with one of the coolest action scenes in recent memory for me. We get to see Nightcrawler(Alan Cumming) absolutely whoop ass on the Secret Service, in an attempt to assassinate the President of the United States. I remember being awed in the theaters by the transporting in and out by Nightcrawler. A spectacular and exciting special effect.
They continue with the theme from the first film about mutants being a danger to the public. The President, influenced by his recent attack, allows bad-guy Stryker(Brian Cox) to launch a crackdown. Stryker develops a serum in which to control mutants. He uses it against Magneto to learn the location of the X-Mansion. Meanwhile, Mystique(Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) is off secretly collecting files from Stryker’s computers. She gathers info on Magneto's main guard, and also learns of Stryker's plans for a Cerebro 2 that he is building up in an abandoned military base. It just so happens that Wolverine(Hugh Jackman) just returned from that base, finding nothing while he was there.
When Xavier(Patrick Stewart) and Cyclops(James Marsden) visit Magneto(Ian McKellen) in the plastic prison, Stryker uses that opportunity to capture them with the help of new bad-grrrl, Deathstrike(Kelly Hu). This results in a nice little fight scene between Cyclops and Deathstrike. We see why Stryker likes to keep her around, because she kicks major ass. Cyclops doesn't put up much of a fight and is easily knocked out.
Soon the X-Mansion is crawling with Stryker’s military goons to capture the students. This is the first glimpse we get at the more violent nature of the film. Wolverine goes around knocking off bad guys one by one and sometimes two by two. Most of the kids escape into the woods, but Wolverine, Rogue(Anna Paquin), Iceman(Shawn Ashmore), and Pyro(Aaron Stanford) go a separate route. They head up to Boston to Bobby/Iceman's house to meet up with Jean Grey() and Storm(Halle Barry). Storm and Jean were sent to track down Nightcrawler. They find him in a renovated church. He turns out to be good guy that has also been controlled by Stryker's serum. Nightcrawler is very religious and we find out the reason for his "angelic scars".
Magneto's escape from prison is just the coolest, I thought. You have to watch the movie to see what I am talking about. While at Bobby's house, his family comes home and we have a few amusing scenes. Bobby's punk little brother secretly calls the police and we get our first glimpse at what Pyro's character is capable of. The house gets surrounded with cops, and soon there is police cars blowing sky high in the air from Pyro's fireballs. Pyro would have taken it much too far if it weren't for Rogue taking away his power. Right after, Jean and Storm show up with the X-Jet.
After a dog fight with the X-Jet and some U.S. Fighter Jets, the X-jet is damaged from a missile and is on a crash course with the ground. Thankfully, Magneto happens to be in the right spot and stops them at the last second from crashing. This is where Magneto and the X-Men team up to go and get Stryker.
We end up at Stryker’s underground base where we get all sorts of battles and turmoil. X-Men vs. Stryker and his goons. We get treated to multiple fights, rescue attempts, and other X-Men goodies including a battle between Wolverine and Deathstrike in the very room Wolverine was "created". In the end, it’s a race against time to rescue all the mutants before a damaged dam turns the base into a mere afterthought. A great and surprising ending.
I can't wait for X3. Hopefully we get Sentinels, Beast, and Juggernaught with the 3rd film.
Picture quality for this DVD was about as good as DVD gets! We are talking OUTSTANDING quality! The skin tones of this movie were perfect! Black levels were blacker than black. Many scenes you cant tell where the black letterboxing begins. The blacks bleed into the black of the letterbox! I'd say that is a pretty good example of how black levels should look!
There is virtually no video noise at all. Only in certain scenes could I detect a slight hint of noise. The scenes with Cerebro is where I noticed it the most. Compared to other DVD movies however, video noise is really kept to a minimum with X2. I do not know of a DVD yet that has ZERO video noise! You may be able to see video noise in the screen shots, but on your TV, I doubt you will notice any unless you are very close to the screen. I wish I had front projection because that would be the ultimate test! Soon enough!
I also did not notice any problems with video artifacting or color gradience. No pixelation or compression was detected at anytime.
I have to admit that I am not the best person to look for Edge Enhancement. I don't know why, but its very hard for me to spot it. Many times I paused the scene and zoomed in to look for EE. I believe I saw the slightest bit of EE on certain scenes. But I had to get very close and zoom in. Otherwise I would have never even noticed. I do not think that EE is an issue with this transfer. I'd like to hear from anyone who thinks differently!
It is my opinion that this transfer is about as film-like as you can get with current DVD technology!
SEE FOR YOURSELF!: (click on the picture for a bigger version of the screen-shot)
More screen shots here
Picture Quality Rating:
Picture: 6 / 5
The sound was very, very good. Dialog was spot on. Voices were nice and bold. I never had a hard time hearing the dialog. I never felt the need to turn up the volume due to low dialog. However, feeling the need to crank the db's to bask in some engaging surround sound, is a different story.
Music was strong and clear. Very nice stereo separation. A lot of ambience and special effects going to the rear speakers. The rear surround was very involved throughout the movie. It was very well mixed in my opinion. I very much suggest the DTS track for this movie.
Edit: I re-watched X2 again, concentrating on all key special effects in Dolby Digital AND DTS at almost refernce level. The DD is very good, but in my opinion, the difference with DTS is night and day. First, the White House scene in the beginning with Nightcrawler, all the gun shots and "bampf"ing sounded muffled on the DD. They were much more clear and defined effects on the DTS track. The ambience that the DTS provides is expansive.
One of the absolute best tests for DD vs. DTS with X2 is when Storm and Jean track down Nightcrawler at the church. Listen to the echoes when Nighcrawler is bampfing and yelling. The DD is flat and more centered to the "Front 3". This scene in DTS is so much better. The surrounds are used much, much more. The decay of his echoes are expansive and they linger a lot more. The sound is just so much more engaging, enveloping and airy. If this scene doesnt convince the DTS vs. DD naysayers, I don't know what will. I must add, those who say that there wasn't very much surround on this DVD, must have heard a VERY different DVD than I. Surround is constant through this entire movie!
LFE was EXCELLENT! There is plenty to give your sub a workout on this DVD. I give demos all the time for by B4-Plus and Rocket Speaker system. I am VERY intimate with the Lord of the Rings and Pod Race on Episode 1. X2 Certainly delivers bass as low as Lord of the Rings. You dont get the 10 minute constant barrage of LFE that wants to tear your house down, but it certainly is as low and powerful for certain effects. Lord of the Rings "Fellowship", is still my reference for bass. When X2 uses LFE, it certainly can hang with LOTR.
Helicoptors at the X-Mansion raid at the 36:00 mark had nice LFE. The cop car explosion at Bobby's parents house reached very deep at the 61:00 mark. Very good bass with the X-Jet dog fight at the 67:00 mark. The scene where Cyclops and Jean fight at the 88:00 minute mark gets your sub talking very nicely. The best and lowest LFE by far, is the scenes where we see the dam breaking apart. These LFE effects are definitely LOTR worthy. This LFE comes at the 102:00 108:00, 110:00, and expecialy the 113:00 mark where the dam breaks fee. VERY SERIOUS BASS! I hope you have a good sub to experience it fully!
Sound Quality Rating:
Sound: 5 / 5
This DVD has absolutely AWESOME extras!! Some of the best put together I have ever seen! Each menu has parts from the movie playing, so your surrounds get a workout even on the menu screens! Hold onto your hats, cause here comes a lot of reading your way!
This commentary features Director Bryan Singer and Cinematographer Tom Sigel
Admittedly, I only listened to the commentaries while writing this interview. Seemingly you get a lot better info from Commentary #1. Bryan goes into a lot of detail about certain shots and how certain scenes were developed. We hear more insight on the secrets about Jean Grey at the end of the movie. You definitely should listen to this commentary when you get the chance. Just chock full of X-Men goodies.
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner - Producer Ralph Winter - Screenwriter Michael Dougherty - Screenwriter Dan Harris - Screenwriter David Hayter
Not as fun to listen to as #1, but still insightful. We hear more about certain characters like Pyro and why they picked Aaron to play him. You mostly get the same info you get with Bryan, but obviously these guys have other tidbits and takes on certain scenes and situations. Watching both of the commentaries gives you a much better perspective of the movie. I would recommend watching both commentaries.
History of the X-men
The Secret Origin of the X-Men
Stan Lee (X-Men Creator) and Chris Claremont (X-Men Writer/Editor) are talking about the origin of the Original X-Men comic and about how and why it was created. Then the talking switches over to the X-Men movie. We hear from Avi Arad (Executive Producer), Lauren Shuler Donner (Producer), Tom DeSanto(Story/Executive Producer), Bryan Singer(Story/Director) We find out about how the idea of was pitched to make the X-Men movies. Each person interviewed gets their own custom background. Some of the coolest interviews I have ever seen. A lot of work went into these.
Total Running Time: 15:26 / 4:3 Ratio
Chuck Austen (Writer of Uncanny X-Men & Nightcrawler) talks about his passion for the Nightcrawler character. He first loved Nightcawler while in high school. He started drawing Electra and War Machine for Marvel back in the day. The editors of Marvel were looking for a new writer for X-Men and they gave Chuck the chance. Chuck wanted to take Nightcrawler back to the original happy-go-lucky character that he once was. Chuck also talks about how he had to write a Nightcrawler Pre-quel to take the us right up to the point in X2 where Nightcrawler gets recruited by Stryker to assassinate the president.
Total Running Time: 7:32 / 4:3 Ratio
Nightcrawler Attack: Multi-Angle Study
Angle #1 Animatic: It’s a very crude animatic make up of the Whitehouse scene. Very cool!
Angle #2 Unfinished Effects: The scene plays out with unfinished effects and choppy edits.
Angle #3 Animatic/Final Film Comp: This is a split screen that shows you the animatic scene on top of the final film scene
Angle #3 Unfinished Effects/Final Film Comp: This is a split screen of the unfinished effects on top of the final film scene.
Evolution In The Details: Designing X2
This is where we get to hear all kinds of tidbits from Guy Dyas(Production Designer). Here we get behind the scenes and pics of all of the major sets and costume design for the movie. A lot of the sets in the original movie where built almost identically for X2. We first get to see the X-Mansion Set. They had to build sets that mirrored parts of Hatley Castle, but with the break away walls and secret passages that they couldn’t obviously do at the real castle.
The next major set we get to see is the mutant museum set. They found a huge exhibition space that they turned into the giant museum set. The whole set was made by the art dept. They used dinosaur and wooly mammoth bones on loan from private collectors and smaller museums. This was quite a big set and a huge task to set-up.
We then get to see Magneto’s plastic prison. It was only about a 20 x 20 set. All the props where made of clear plastic/acrylic. They had to expand upon the plastic prison from the last movie. A lot of the first prison was made in CGI. This time they actually had to build it. The two major parts they had to build this time around was the drawbridge and the reception area. Then they give us behind the scenes shots of the reception area set. Guy Dyas said he would have built the set differently if he'd of known there was to be an action scene in the reception area. They changed the script on him.
Next up is Nightcawlers church. They used a real church, but had to bring in all sorts of scaffolding and what not to make it look like it was being renovated.
Guy Dyas takes us next to the White House set. He goes into detail about how it's virtually a perfect replica down to the smallest detail, unless you count the ceiling that is. They of course had to eliminate the ceiling to accommodate the stunt men. They recreated a lot of the art paintings by printing a copy of them, and then applying a lacquer to make it look like an oil based painting. All of the marble is in fact painted wood.
We then see the set for Stryker's base that they set up in a massive unused storage facility. It was 200ft x 600ft. Here they made dark and dingy hallways, the control room, the spillway tunnel, and the room where Wolverine had the adamantium metal applied to his skeleton.
Guy also had to build sets for the X-Jet. A cross between an X-15 and a Stealth. The set was 85ft long and split into 3 different areas. The cockpit, cargo area, and changing room for the X-Men.
Total Running Time: 18:00 / 16:9 Aspect Ratio
United Colors Of X
Is this featurette, we hear from Louise Mingeback (Costume Designer). She goes into detail about each costume for each character. Bryan Singer wanted the look to be the "same", but "different". They gave "Rouge" a bit of a sexier look. Not so covered up. They put "Storm" into more ethnic-type clothes. "Jean Grey" gets all sorts of "Phoenix Rising" motifs into her clothes. Pheonix Rising jewelry and a leather jacket with a Phoenix embroidered on the back. Nightcrawler is more complicated to dress because of all of the prosthetics that need to be concealed. One major costume piece for him was a paint-splattered leather coat. "Lady Deathstrike" gets sexy business suits. "Magneto's" helmet was redesigned and his costume was redesigned to be easier to get in and out of. "Cyclops" gets a more streamlined ruby visor. "Wolverine" gets a redesigned leather jacket with more detail. Xavier had beautiful custom suits made specifically because he is always seated. "Iceman" and "Pyro" and "Jubilee" get more off the shelf type clothes. Much easier to dress than the rest. Louise tried her best to not make the fashion in the movie look dated.
Total Running Time: 8:57 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
Wolverine/Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal
This a very cool featurette that basically shows us the fight scene rehearsed by the stunt people. They overlay the actual final fight scene soundtrack so that it’s more engaging and easier to follow along with.
Total Running Time: 1:25 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men: Making of X2
It’s the behind the scenes making of the movie. We get interviews from just about everyone is this baby! We get cast, director, screenwriters, producers, you name it! Bryan Singer felt that X2 was the movie he really wanted to make. He felt as though X-Men 1 was more or less a trailer for X2. He knew he had more time and money and a better understanding of the X-Men universe. It shows too, X2 was far better in my opinion. Screenwriters took this movie seriously, and wrote it as such. This featurette was just so chalk full of info, you just have to see it. I could write a book on the info contained within it. Some really great stuff. This is the best one in all of the extras. Also by far the longest!
Total Running Time: 59:17 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
Introducing The Incredible Nightcrawler!
Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler) talks about his character. How he got the role, how he found the style of movement for Nightcrawler with the help of Terry Notary (Movement Coach) Terry was the guy that worked on the recent Planet of the Apes movie. A fine line is drawn between beautiful and ugly in character movement according to Terry. We get to see Alan and Terry working out how Nightcrawler is to walk and move around. They envisioned Nightcrawler's tail as an extension of his spine. Alan goes into detail about how miserable he was going through the daily makeup changes. A "nightmare from hell" as Alan puts it. We get to see drawings of makeup concepts for the character. They also show us his custom made feet, various versions of his tail, and his teeth and contacts. 4 hours each day for make-up and 10 hours one day when he needed full body make-up.
Total Running Time: 9:50 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal
Basically, this featurette cuts back and forth from the animatic parts of the White House scene and the live action stunt rehearsals for the scene. Everything is set to the actual scene soundtrack.
Total Running Time: 2:20 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
Nightcrawler Time Lapse
This is very cool! It shows about a 4 hour time lapse of Alan Cumming(Nightcrawler) getting his make-up applied. Everything from him shaving, to the application of the angelic symbol "scars", to the hair gel and airbrushing. I couldn't imagine going through that every morning! Sheesh!
Total Running Time: 3:38 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
FX2 - Visual Effects
Michael Fink (Visual Effects Supervisor), gives us the lowdown of various aspects of the special effects for X2. We also get to hear from the cast about working with blue screens and green screens. Michael reveals to us that he wasn't very comfortable with the X-Men 1 effects. He knew he could have done better. The first movies effects were much smaller and easier. He had the budget for X2, and the effects were much more complicated. They had over 800 special effects shots for X2. One of the more challenging shots was the X-Jet dog fight scene with the tornadoes. We get a step by step break down of how the tornadoes were created in the computer. They had more twisters in the first couple of cuts of that scene then the entire movie of "Twister". We also get to see how they created the Nightcrawler "BAMPF" scenes. They use 2 different colored smokes. A smoke that picks up the colors of the character, and a black smoke that lingers after he is gone. They base the effect off of an effect for a water simulator. This is a very interesting section and is a real joy to watch. Very cool!
We then see special effects for Magneto's plastic prison. All of the breaking glass was CGI. Cerebro's special effects up next and virtually all of it is CGI. Duh! hehe. We get to see the different rough camera angles for scenes when Professor X is using Cerebro to find mutants. Also when Magneto is rearranging the metal tiles in Cerebro 2. One of the biggest challenges was the dam scene. They had to build it as big as possible since water doesn’t scale down. It looks like a nightmare to put the scene together and make it all look real.
Total running time: 24:54 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
Requiem For Mutants: The Score Of X2
John Ottman(Editor/Composer) talks about scoring X2. The wanted the scoring style of the 70's movies, but adapt it to today’s style. Every character gets their own "theme" throughout the movie. Keeping the same attitude as the original X-men movie and the cartoon. Jean Grey has one of the most present themes in the film. We hear the use of voices and such. Nightcrawler gets a theme hinting of his German origin. John basically goes through most of the characters and we hear their score while we sample scenes involving the character. A cool part is when Bryan Singer and Patrick Stewart stop by to listen to the orchestra practicing.
Total Running Time: 11:39 / Aspect Ratio 16:9
X2 Global Webcast Highlights
To make a long story short, this is a "best of" from webcast they did prior to the release. They take questions from online fans. We get to see questions for Bryan Singer, and pretty much the entire cast, minus Halle Barry. We also see answers to questions for the Producers Ralph Winter and Lauren Shuler Donner.
Total Running Time: 16:56 / Aspect Ratio 4:3
These were about the ONLY disappointment on the entire extras disks. Most of the scenes were just ever so slightly modified from the scenes that made into the movie. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference on a few of them. The scenes that were deleted entirely, are for the most part so-so. One scene is where we get to see Jubilee at the museum, although she doesn’t speak at all. Nothing really cool here.
The deleted scenes are as follows:
-Extended Wolverine/Deathstrike fight
-Wolverine kills the intruder
-Mystique in Stryker's files
-Nightcrawler bamfs to save the students
-Jean and Storm in the X-Jet
-Jubilee at the museum
-Pyro starts the campfire
-One of the children is sick after bamfing
-Rogue helps the children escape
-Professor X and Cyclops escape
-Arriving to an empty school
There are TONS of galleries in this section!
-Locations and Sets
-Alkali Lake Dam -Mystique & Laurio
-Cerebro -Plastic Prison
-Dark Cerebro -Stryker's Base
-Deathstrike's Office -White House
-Drake Residence -X-Jet
-Nightcrawler Circus Posters
-Museum -Stryker's Base
-Plastic Prison -X-Jet
-Ronny's Room Posters -X-Mansion
-The Unseen X2
-Angel (Archangel) -Danger Room Storyboards
-Danger Room Set Construction -Sentinels
-Danger Set Design
Total Running Time: 31 seconds / Aspect Ratio 4:3
Total Running Time: 1:41 / Aspect Ratio 4:3
Total Running Time: 2:23 / Aspect Ratio 4:3
A Public Service Announcement
Anit-Pot ad. The commercial where the kid brings a picture to the roadside spot where his brother was killed. Turns out he was the driver.
3 Free Comics
Put the disk in your pc's DVD Rom drive and you are shown how to get 3 free trial subscription to "Ultimate Spider-Man"! Takes you to http://www.marvel.com/3free/
Extras / Bonus Features Rating:
Extras: 5 / 5
CHECK OUT THE NAVIGATION!: (click on the pictures for a bigger version of the menu-shot)
More menu shots here!
This DVD is beyond words. As an X-Men fan, I loved every second of it. Tons and tons of extras. A super-fantastic transfer, an aggressive, kick-ass DTS soundtrack, and a much better flick than the first X-Men. Goddamn, if only I didn't have to send this one back. I have to unfortunately suffer like the rest of you and buy it when it comes out. Its gonna be a long wait my friends!
I cannot possibly give a higher recommendation to get this DVD. SUPER-DUPER HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
This has been,