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Born into a world filled with prejudice are children who possess extraordinary and dangerous powers -- the result of unique genetic mutations. Cyclops unleashes bolts of energy from his eyes. Storm can manipulate the weather at will. Rogue absorbs the life force of anyone she touches. But under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, those and other outcasts learn to harness their powers for the good of mankind. Now they must protect those who fear them as the nefarious Magneto, who believes humans and mutants can never co-exist, unveils his sinister plan for the future!
For more about X-Men and the X-Men Blu-ray release, see X-Men Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 23, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Bryan Singer, David Hayter, Tom Desanto
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry
» See full cast & crew
X-Men Blu-ray Review
One of the great Superhero movies debuts on Blu-ray with stellar results.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 23, 2009
Mutation. It is the key to our evolution.
There were comic book-based movie before it, and there were certainly comic book movies after it, but arguably no other film of its kind proved quite as important to the genre -- and to Hollywood -- as 2000's X-Men, the film that sparked the revolution that saw the heroes and villains from the inky pages of Marvel and D.C. comics to come to life anew on the silver screen. Certainly, Hollywood had dabbled with the idea before. A quartet of Batman films found favor with audiences between the late-1980s and the late-1990s, and Tim Burton's 1988 film was even dubbed "the movie of the decade." Superman, too, enjoyed several films, of note the 1978 outing starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Marlon Brando, and Margot Kidder, the film still one of, if not the, finest superhero movies of them all. Studios also turned to some of the lesser-known characters in the 1990s, with films like The Shadow starring Alec Baldwin and Judge Dredd featuring Sylvester Stallone thrilling audiences but the idea never really catching on. X-Men, however, a big-budget special effects extravaganza that also brought to the table a fantastic ensemble cast and, most importantly, a first-rate story, is the film that many see as responsible for the deluge of quality comic book-based films that have positively dominated the decade, and rightfully so, as it still stands as a classic example of superhero moviemaking done right.
In the near future, humans and mutants find themselves at odds, each concerned over what the future may hold for their respective species. A war is brewing, on one side the less-than-scrupulous mutants, led by the powerful and highly intelligent Magneto (Ian McKellen, The Da Vinci Code), and on the other, U.S. Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison, Apt Pupil) and those humans who fear the mutants. In the middle is Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, TV's "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), a mutant with the ability to read minds, head of the Xavier School for Gifted (read: mutants) Youngsters, and leader of the X-Men, a powerful conglomerate of mutants with unique and powerful abilities that fight for justice and peace. When a young girl, later dubbed Rogue (Anna Paquin, The Piano), runs away from home after discovering the deadly power of her mutation, she meets a mysterious figure deep in the heart of no-man's land named Logan (Hugh Jackman, Australia), himself a mutant with regenerative powers. The pair is ambushed by Magneto's thugs but escape when they are rescued by two X-Men, Cyclops (James Marsden, Enchanted) and Storm (Halle Berry, Monster's Ball). Logan and Rogue are returned to X-Men headquarters where they are treated by Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, Taken), and allowed to remain. When Magneto's plans for his attack on Logan and Rogue come to light, the team must attempt to prevent the villain from hatching a scheme that could start a war with mankind -- and cost the life of one of their own.
X-Men smartly melds itself into much more than a typical effects-heavy popcorn movie with a thin plot and minimal characterization. In fact, it is the thought-provoking plot and character interactions, motivations, and personalities that make X-Men a success both aesthetically and thematically. The themes of fear, paranoia, confusion, and, of course, good versus evil, reinforce the action and special effects, providing to them more weight, meaning, and importance. X-Men is a film about context, about relationships, and about how differences may unite rather than divide. Of course, it's also about how differences may divide rather than unite, and therein lies the conflict of the film, and even ties in to the title of the sequel, X-Men United. At the center of the conflict is a political drama that revolves around acceptance and fear, clearly dividing two factions -- the humans that fear mutants and the mutants that fear humans -- that choose one over the other, each failing to see that one not necessarily breed the other. Professor Xavier and the mutants on the side of good differentiate between the two, seeing the inherent good in all creatures, mutant or not, and searching for a coexistence where one's ability to control the weather is no different than Beethoven's ability to control a piano or Michael Jordan's seemingly superhuman ability to put a ball through netting.
Still, it is the character development that sparkles in X-Men, and each individual makes for a fascinating study. The tit-for-tat conflict between Magneto and Xavier -- a conflict of the minds rather than the bodies -- makes for the film's best moments. Magneto is the film's most complex and interesting character, a man who witnessed firsthand the dangers of artificial divisions and fears as a boy during World War II. Magneto still craves justice and equality, though his solution is not ideal, his basic principles seemingly in the right place but his conscience and morality having seemingly abandoned him long ago. Also of note is the superb writing that defines Logan and Scott, in particular. They share a fantastic rapport, delivering side-splitting banter even amongst the film's most frenetic action sequences. It's definitely the film's finely-tuned characters that sets X-Men and some of the other very best comic book movies -- like Iron Man and The Dark Knight -- apart from more average comic book fare like The Fantastic Four. The best films dig deep and feature complex characters that, despite their powers, still struggle with their humanity. Though they may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, regenerate their bodies, or control metal, they come to realize that their souls are no more different than that of an everyday man.
X-Men Blu-ray, Video Quality
X-Men arrives on Blu-ray with a solid 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. This one is not quite as sharp, clear, and detailed as the very best Blu-ray has to offer, but it is certainly no slouch either, easily besting the previous DVD releases and making for very good high definition material. Fine detail is fairly good across the board. Skin textures, the various types of clothing seen throughout, and the warm interiors of the above-ground classroom settings of the mutant school all look sufficiently good. The transfer handles all the varied materials thrown its way nicely, including colorful outdoor shots; the cold, blue-gray steel interior of the deeper sections of the X-Men headquarters; and even the nearly colorless beginning sequence featuring a young Magneto at a German POW camp during World War II where the yellow of the stars worn on prisoners' shirts stands out against the otherwise dull, lifeless, and depressing imagery. Flesh tones veer towards the red end of the spectrum in many shots, and black levels are consistently above-average but not quite as consistently deep and inky as one might expect. Grain is barely noticeable at normal viewing distances, and the print sees only the occasional speckle. Overall, X-Men is a fine transfer where every aspect is several steps above any previous home video release, but the image is not quite as pristine as some of the newer Blu-ray releases.
X-Men Blu-ray, Audio Quality
X-Men explodes onto Blu-ray with a devastating and incredibly aggressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The opening title sequence practically explodes out of the speakers, and as the movie moves on to a World War II -era Nazi prison camp, a downpour fills soundstage while the score, sound effects, and loud, sometimes screaming voices emanate from the front of the soundstage with precision and vigor, accompanied by a fine amount of support from the rear. The sound effect of Magnetos' influence over the camp's metal gate sounds fantastic, with a penetrating and deafening creak and grown accompanied by some of the lowest and most powerful bass yet heard on Blu-ray. Indeed, bass is just devastating throughout, representing some of the purest and deepest rumblings this side of The Incredible Hulk. The film's many action sequences continue to make for devastating listens; explosions are powerful and hard-hitting and the surround speakers are put to consistent use throughout. A scene in chapter 16 is a fantastic example of the track's power, featuring Magneto making use of a machine that mutates a man. The disc is rounded out by crystal clear dialogue reproduction. Once again, 20th Century Fox has delivered a superb sonic experience.
X-Men Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
X-Men finally debuts on Blu-ray, and with it comes a heaping helping of bonus materials spread across two discs. Disc one begins with a feature commentary track with Director Bryan Singer (Superman Returns) and Brian Peck. This duo delivers a suitably interesting track, one that flows nicely and covers plenty of information about a broad spectrum of topics related to the film and the X-Men universe. Fans will be pleased with this offering. Enhanced Viewing Mode allows viewers to watch a version of the film with deleted and extended scenes inserted into the film. Also available is a selection of 17 behind-the-scenes pieces that may be viewed during the film by pressing the "1" button on the remote when an "X" icon appears on-screen. Finally, an extended commentary track is available when watching the movie in Enhanced Viewing Mode. All of the deleted and extended scenes are also available through the Enhanced Viewing Mode tab or the Deleted Scenes / Extended Scenes (480p, 11:02) tab of the main menu, while the behind-the-scenes features are accessible instantly from the Enhanced Viewing Mode tab.
Fox Special: 'The Mutant Watch' (480p, 21:57) is part mock news presentation featuring a character from the film, Senator Robert Kelly, and others discussing the "mutant threat" and the proposed solutions to the perceived problem and part behind-the-scenes piece featuring interview clips with the cast and crew discussing the evolution of the mutants and their place in the world. Bryan Singer Interview (480p, 6:17) is a five-part feature where the director sits down with Charlie Rose and discusses brining X-Men to the big screen, his choice in accepting the job of director, the process of directing a major studio film, and more. Also included on disc one are two Animatics: Liberty Head (480p, 1:07) and Train Station (480p, 0:56). Concluding the supplements on disc one is a pair of Art Galleries (Character Design and Production Design), three TV spots (480p, 1:36 combined runtime), an advertisement for the soundtrack (480p, 0:31), and 1080p trailers for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, Daredevil, and Fantastic Four. This disc is also D-Box enabled.
Disc two features Evolution X (480p, 2:16:39). This is an in-depth and interactive documentary that takes viewers behind-the-scenes during the film. When an "X" icon appears on-screen, additional material is available for viewing. This documentary is broken up into several separate parts as follows, each selectable from the disc's main menu. The Uncanny Suspects (24:16) features the cast recounting their familiarities with the X-Men universe prior to the film, sharing their thoughts on how the film works for both fans and newcomers, and the qualities of each character. The piece moves on to look at the selection of director Bryan Singer as director and the strengths he brought to the film, the themes of the film, behind-the-scenes footage, some of the differences between comic and film, and more. Also included with this piece is Hugh Jackman's First Reading (480p, 11:00), Hugh Jackman's Screen Test (480p, 1:56), and Character Still Gallery.
Next up in Evolution X is X-Factor (480p, 22:47), an extensive look at the design of each character. The piece looks at the prosthetics, costumes, props, and more, as seen in the film. Also available through the magic of seamless branching are costume tests for Cyclops (480p, 480p, 1:17), Storm (480p, 1:25), Toad (480p, 3:27), and an Image Gallery featuring Hardware, Locations, Magneto, and Xavier's School. Moving on, Production Documentary Scrapbook (480p, 1:03:26) takes an extensive look at the nitty-gritty aspects of moviemaking, taking viewers inside production meetings, the construction of sets, the assemblage of props, walkthroughs of scenes, scouting locations, scene set-up, choreography, and plenty more. The piece is a hodgepodge of moviemaking magic, a rather fascinating feature that takes an honest and informative look at how a movie comes together. This piece also offers a few multi-angle features to view scenes from several different perspectives.
Evolution X continues with The Special Effects of 'The X-Men' (480p, 17:28) which, of course, examines the film's impressive use of visual effects that enhance the film and the characters. Through seamless branching, users may choose to view the following: Sen. Kelly Effects Breakdown (480p, 5:00), Liberty Head (Multi-Angle) (480p, 0:16), Toad vs. Jean (Multi-Angle) (480p, 0:14), Wolverine vs. Mystique (Multi-Angle) (480p, 0:26) and Wolverine vs. Sabertooth (Multi-Angle) (480p, 0:57). Reflection of 'The X-Men' (480p, 8:38) features cast and crew recounting the anxieties of the premier and the fan and critical reaction to the film. Also included via seamless branching is Ellis Island Premiere (480p, 4:21) and Premieres Around the World (480p, 18:51). Concluding this extensive set of extras is Marketing 'The X-Men', a collection of three theatrical trailers (1080p, 5:25), nine TV spots (480p, 4:46), and a dozen Internet Interstitials (480p, 11:00).
X-Men Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
X-Men offers solid entertainment, thought-provoking drama, and fascinating character studies. Director Bryan Singer expertly melds the two worlds, doing so through well-staged and exciting action but equally invigorating mental and psychological conflict. It all comes together in what may no longer be the standard-bearer of first-class comic book movies, but nevertheless remains a well-above-average cinematic outing and a classic in its own genre. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray presentation of X-Men is outstanding. Featuring a solid video transfer, a reference-quality and bass-heavy DTS lossless soundtrack, and hours upon hours of extra materials, this disc is nearly impossible to resist. X-Men comes highly recommended.
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X-Men Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Amazon Blu-ray Deals of the Week: X-Men and Breaking Bad (Expired) - September 23, 2012
Amazon's Blu-ray Deals of the Week affect both Twentieth Century Fox's X-Men: The Complete Collection package as well as Sony Home Entertainment's first three Breaking Bad season sets. These deals expire at 12 AM PST/3 AM EST next Sunday, September 30th.
• Today on Blu-ray - April 21 - April 21, 2009
Out on Blu-ray today are two films which - at very least - had a part in the beginning to two current Hollywood trends that either have you begging for more, or pleating to stop. 'X-Men' - released today individually or as part of the 'X-Men Trilogy' - is, arguably, ...
• X-Men Blu-ray Trilogy Gets Detailed - February 5, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of 'X-Men', 'X2: X-Men United', and 'X3: The Last Stand', which are due to hit store shelves on April 21st, both individually and as a 'X-Men ...
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