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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 61:07)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    Hungarian, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • 11 Deleted scenes
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • 11 Featurette
  • 6 Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Multiple angle
  • DTS trailer

X-Men 2: SE

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 128 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Like many great institutions, The X-Men have had an incredible rollercoaster of a ride. From humble beginnings, they became quite popular, but quickly settled back, almost into obscurity. In the ‘90s, however, the X-Men experienced a resurgence thanks to modern filmmakers who have technology at hand that allows almost anything to become possible.

The X-Men comic, for the uninitiated, was created back in the early ‘60s and followed the adventures of a group of ‘mutants’ who walked among us but had a range of special abilities that set them apart. Non-mutants were to fear them, and did what they could to nullify their presence. X-Men are not superheroes in the comic book sense of the word, but they certainly have a range of powers that most humans do not.

The first film, X-Men, introduced many to characters such as Professor Xavier, Wolverine, Magneto and Rogue, and ultimately all was put to right and the balance of good and evil restored. X-Men 2 begins a little after the first film, and there are some mysterious histories that will be dragged up.

With Magneto safely ensconced in his plastic prison, it would seem that the world is safe. However, the attempted assassination of the President of the United States by a mutant known as Nightcrawler upsets the uneasy balance. Could Magneto be behind the attempt? The anti-mutant agitators don’t care either way and immediately call for a bill known as the Mutant Registration Act. The loudest voice is that of William Stryker, a vocal, wealthy, former commander for the Army. It is rumoured that Stryker had been experimenting on mutants with a view to military supremacy. His questionable research also seems tied to Wolverine’s clouded past.

"Sharing the world has never been mankind's defining attribute."

While Wolverine continues to seek answers about his past, Styker leads an attack on Xavier’s Mansion. This seriously dents the mutants’ chances of a private, peaceful existence.

Magneto, meantime, achieves the impossible and escapes from his plastic prison and proposes an alliance with Xavier, in the face of a common enemy. Xavier is aware that together they have a better chance of defeating Stryker, but at what cost? And can Magneto be trusted? With their very existence threatened, several of his charges missing, others distracted and his very tenuous grip on them all torn and frayed, it seems that Xavier and the X-Men are on the verge of being obliterated.

The first film may have taken a few years to get off the storyboard, but there were no such issues with the sequel. The same cast were signed, many of the same crew, the characters, sets and costumes had all been established (some sets and costumes have been updated), and there is a good sense of continuity.

The special effects this time around are even more special, with Nightcrawler a fantastic new addition to the X-Men, and Mystique is equally as brilliant. There are plenty of whiz-bang action scenes, enough cunning stunts to keep you on the edge of your seat, and a well-paced yet straightforward story line.

The young director, Bryan Singer, has done a great job with a great team getting this film together. There are a few surprises, one or two emotionally charged moments and some generally sincere interaction between the main characters. If you enjoyed the first X-Men film, then this one is guaranteed to please you just as much.

  Video
Contract

Oh, if only all DVD releases could be as sweet as this! As expected, the 2.35:1 aspect ratio is 16:9 enhanced, and you will be hard pressed to find a problem anywhere. The movie itself (and the two commentaries) has been allocated a disc all to itself, and the result is a clean, clear, sharp, colourful transfer that does justice to the vibrancy of the original comic book series, and justifies the money spent bringing X-Men 2 to the screen.

As said, there are no problems with the video presentation so I won’t waste time telling you what’s not there. The image is razor sharp, colours are solid, bold and vibrant, giving the characters an appropriate comic book feel. The special effects, naturally, are excellent, and transfer well to the small screen. Black levels are deep and rich and unaffected by noise.

There are one or two fleeting instances of shimmer, but these will not be of concern, and are the only thing that can be singled out in this almost faultless presentation. The necessary layer change is placed at 61:07 and is almost undetectable.

  Audio
Contract

I suggest you shout the neighbours to a night out and turn this baby up. If you want to know how good your system is, then this DVD will let you know. The DTS 5.1 track is incredibly powerful. The most noticeable things are the depth and clarity of the track, the rumbles that accompany the numerous explosive scenes and the ear shattering booms and shrieks of flying debris, bullets and glass.

Rear channels are all go, go, go and are used aggressively in all the places you would expect in a big action film such as this. You may even find yourself ducking for cover. The full available sound space has been utilised, and every corner of the room seems to have something happening. The score is also very ‘big’ and dramatic.

There is a tendency for some of the action to outshine the dialogue in the more action-packed scenes, but few will care. As for dialogue, it is mostly centred, and audible. There are no synchronisation issues, and no problems with volume. If the windows ain’t rattlin’, then you ain’t got it turned up enough!

There is also a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which is also excellent. There's little to distinguish it from the DTS 5.1, except in the very loudest scenes where the DTS seems to have a little more impact. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also very crisp for stereo, but with a film as fast and furious as this, it just can’t compete.

There is also a Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Strange choice, I know. Maybe there is some obscure Hungarian X-Men link link that I am not aware of?

  Extras
Contract

Man, this release is so chock full of extras, it will take you days to get through them. Disc One has two audio commentaries. Both have English and Dutch subtitles available. The first, from director Bryan Singer and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, is an informal yet chatty affair, and the pair naturally discuss the things that are of most concern to directors, including casting, filming, budgets, nods to the first film, set construction and the ideas and off-screen dramas behind many of the pivotal scenes. There are few pauses and it all proves to be fairly easy listening.

The second commentary comes from co-producers Ralph Winter and Lauren Shuler Donner, X-Men co-screenwriter and X-Men 2 co-writer David Hayter, with Dan Harris and Mike Dougherty, also X-Men 2 co-writers. I am not sure that all of these people are present at the same time, for their comments do pop in and out continuously with little overlap. Naturally, there is some double up of information and anecdotes from the first commentary, but there are some different takes in ideas, inspirations and the creative process. There are some extra things such as goofs and continuity errors, but both commentaries have a great deal of backslapping. There are some short pauses in this commentary, which is surprising.

Disc Two is where you will find the rest of the treasures, all nicely bundled together in various sub menus. They are all of good quality, and varying aspect ratios though most are 16:9 enhanced. They are all Dolby Digital 2.0 but sound loud, clear and beefy!

History of the X-Men: This brief history of the X-Men and the effort in getting the films made is the focus of the collection and is a nice introduction for many casual fans. There are two sections within, The Secret Origin of X-Men and Nightcrawler Reborn. Running a combined time of over around 23 minutes, they feature input from original and latterday writers and editors.

Pre-production: This collection focuses on the effort required to get a film like this together. It includes interviews with various designers and behind the scenes crew. The featurettes are entitled, Nightcrawler Attack: Multi-angle Study - a multi-angle look at storyboards and the final product, Evolution in the Details: Desiging X2 - an examination of various designs for sets, costumes and characters, and United Colours of X - looking exclusively at costume design. Total run time here is roughly 30 minutes.

Production: Makeup, stunts, rehearsals, special effects - it’s all here. Wolverine/Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal breaks down the intricate fight scene and shows a lot of the rehearsal footage. The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men: Making of X2 is a one-hour, indepth study of the film and will have fans salivating. This hour passes very quickly. Introducing the Incredible Nightcrawler is a lenghty look at the character, the actor, and the extreme trauma of portraying a character that is so demanding physically and time-wise. Hours and hours in makeup makes him look great, but you may question his sanity. Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal takes a look a look at the early CGI and rehearsals for the opening White House assassination attempt scene. This is a very detailed and open and honest look. Nightcrawler Time-Lapse shows, in a few minutes, what takes hours in reality, turning Alan Cumming into Nightcrawler. Lastly in this section, there is FX-2 Visual Effects, which is a look at the myriad of special effects that make this film such a fun-packed ride. This Production sub menu takes about 100 minutes to get through.

Post-Production: The end of shooting means more work, work, work and here you'll learn about what happens next. Requiem for the Mutants is a look at scoring such a film with composer John Ottman. X2 Global Webcast Highlights sees the cast and many crew assembled, one by one, for a webcast chat session. They are asked all sorts of questions from fans and their answers are recorded here on camera and were streamed around the world. Allow yourself a good half hour here.

Galleries: These extensive galleries allow you to navigate at your own pace. They are enormous and take who knows how long to get through?! The main sections are Characters, Locations and Sets, Mutant X-Rays, Nightcrawler Circus Posters, On-Camera Graphics and The Unseen X2. Totalling hundreds of shots, there is almost nothing left out.

Deleted Scenes: 11 deleted scenes are on offer here, some are interesting, while others were probably dropped for the obvious reason of not adding anything worthwhile to the film. Some are actually extended scenes and are of lesser quality than the finished product. The total run time is about 20 minutes. There is no "Play All" option.

Trailers: There are three trailers for X-Men 2 included. They are all 16:9 enhanced and in varying aspect ratios. They run a total time of five minutes.

  Overall  
Contract

What can you say about a film that is arguably as good, if not better, than its high-quality and successful predecessor? It is a rare thing these days that a sequel is even entertaining, rarer still when it actually offers something new. With more stunts, more action and a generally quiet year for DVD blockbusters, X-Men 2 should do great business.

Did somebody say "Christmas"?


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    • Centre Speaker:
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    • Surrounds:
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    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
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    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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