X-Men 2 (X2): Two Disc Edition (Blu-ray) (2003)

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Released 6-May-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 133:47
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bryan Singer
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Hugh Jackman
Anna Paquin
Patrick Stewart
Ian McKellen
Brian Cox
Famke Janssen
Rebecca Romijn
Alan Cumming
Case Slip Case
RPI ? Music John Ottman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Spanish
Portuguese
Chinese
Chinese
Thai
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In an interview with one journalist, Bryan Singer summed up his approach to making the sequel to X-Men very simply. Everything was set out with the goal of being bigger, better, more powerful, and more awesome. Okay, so those were not his exact words, but the point is that directors say that all the time about the sequels they make. I am sure that Irvin Kershner said it about RoboCop 2, I have no doubt that Richard T. Heffron said the same about V: The Final Battle, and I would even bet money that Joel Schumacher said it about Batman Forever. What divides Bryan Singer from the people I have just mentioned is that when he said the same about X2: X-Men United as it was titled at theatres, he delivered and then some.

    The film begins with a tour group going through the White House, America's most public and blocked-off at the same time symbol of democracy. Things get interesting when one member of the group diverges from the rest and begins nosing around areas off the tour path. After a query from a member of the Secret Service as to whether he is lost, the stray visitor drops his disguise and begins attacking the Secret Service agents. As numerous attempts to shoot the intruder down fail, it becomes clear that this person is able to teleport himself from place to place at will. Those familiar with the comic book canon will know that this is Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming). After a particularly awesomely-staged shootout inside the President's chamber, Nightcrawler pins President McKenna (Cotter Smith) to his desk and pulls out a knife. But before Nightcrawler can finish the job, he is shot through the shoulder by a Secret Service agent and disappears to places unknown. The only clue to his motives or agenda that he leaves behind is a fairly strong one - attached to the knife is a ribbon with a deceptively simple message on it: "MUTANT FREEDOM NOW".

    Think back to a conversation between Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) at the end of the previous film:

    "Doesn't it ever wake you in the middle of the night? The feeling that someday they will pass that foolish law, or one just like it, and come for you, and your children?"
    "It does, indeed."
    "What do you do when you wake up to that?"
    "I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to that school looking for trouble."

    That, in a nutshell, is what the superficial layer of X2 is all about. The film continues with the aftermath of the assassination attempt. A General by the name of William Stryker (Brian Cox) pays the President a visit, soliciting permission to undertake a special mission against the Xavier mansion. Professor X, Storm (Halle Berry), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), upon hearing of the attack, debate exactly who would launch the attack and what idiotic measures the current administration will undertake as a response. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) returns from a trip to the North and is asked to watch over the young Mutants whilst Professor X and Cyclops go to visit Magneto. Storm and Jean head out in search of Nightcrawler, and Stryker comes crashing in shortly thereafter to force the younger Mutants to flee, or in the case of such memorable responses as Siryn (Shauna Kain) and Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), fight. The driving plot device in all this, and it is a minor plot problem which can be easily ignored in the midst of the other perfections, is that whenever Professor X is using Cerebro, he can mentally reach out to literally every Mutant on the planet, but this ability also gives him the power to kill whomever he reaches out to if he concentrates hard enough.

    They say a film in which two groups fight to the death is only as good as the antagonist (not to mention the actor playing them), and boy what an antagonist X2 offers. Yes, that really is the same Brian Cox you saw a couple of years before the release of X2 in Super Troopers. Bob Wr... sorry, William Stryker, oozes such evil as a parent who lashes out at the people who refuse to confirm his prejudiced, ignorant view of his own child. By the time the film is over, it inspires such a great desire to take Mr. Regular Guy, hold him over the edge of a skyscraper, and ask him who the hell he is to be denying the rest of us our most basic Human rights. Indeed, this entire film shows normies humans behaving so badly that Magneto's goal of subjugating them all (or worse) seems more like a matter of common sense than any reason to fight him. The only time this particular real-world Mutant was aware of anything being wrong with the film was whenever Halle Berry opened her mouth, and why her routine with Alan Cumming was not left on the cutting room floor is an even bigger mystery to me since I have been studying the finer technical points of filmmaking. But even she gets a moment where special effects and a deft choice of shots help her to make up for most of it.

    Hence, do not let the underrating on the IMDB fool you. There is a good reason why X2 (along with its predecessor) is listed among the best films to portray those of us fighting the battle for autistic freedom now by accident. It was highly relevant when it was first released, it is even more relevant now, and unless President Obama completes the job of backhanding his predecessor by signing a bill that acknowledges that Human rights means all Humans, not just normies, it will be just as relevant in 2017. The fact that the press refused to acknowledge this as the Malcolm X of superhero films is a great injustice to all of the writers.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I love BD-Video as a format (awww, really, I hear you cry). I love it because with a few notable exceptions so far, great films have been getting the kind of high-quality transfer that they deserve. X2 is no exception.

    The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1 within a 1920 by 1080 progressive window. As an owner of the original Region 1 NTSC release, I can state that all of the advantages this disc has over the DVD are associated with that one word "progressive".

    This transfer is sharp. Nightcrawler's markings leap out of the screen in a vivid level of detail that I only saw elsewhere in the form of theatrical exhibition. Iris colours are nicely detailed and show slight flaws in the CGI used to turn actors' eyes to yellow or grey-blue. Shadow detail is excellent, especially during the mansion attack, and there is no low-level noise. Grain is occasionally evident in backgrounds, but this was a relatively minor problem.

    The colours of the transfer are generally very dull and muted, reflecting the intended look of the film. Much like the styling that Tim Burton has previously used to great effect, the only times when the colours become truly bright and vivid are when the Mutants are in a location that is fully Human, such as the Drake household or the museum. No bleeding or misregistration was in evidence.

    Compression artefacts were not in evidence in this transfer. The video was compressed using the AVCHD codec, and varies quite a bit from scene to scene in terms of bitrate. As was the case with the first X-Men film on BD, I am happy to report that no aliasing or any other film-to-video artefacts are evident in the picture at any time. As much as I berate Fox for some of their decisions, I still must commend them for the fact that they have yet to show me any transfers that are merely upchucked interlaced masters of old. Film artefacts consisted of the very occasional black or white spot in the picture that was easily ignored.

    Subtitles are offered in English for the Hearing Impaired. They omit a word here or there, but are otherwise very accurate to the spoken word.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The first, and default, is the original English dialogue in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, which the packaging touts (albeit in very small lettering) as being lossless. Second is the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, which is lossy and therefore lacks the crisp, spacious dynamics of the first soundtrack. Third and fourth are dubs in Spanish and Portuguese, which are both each a further step down in fidelity terms, especially where the dialogue is concerned. The last, and probably worst in fidelity terms, of the dubs is a Dolby Digital 2.0 effort in Thai. Six and seven are audio commentaries in Dolby Digital 2.0, which I distinctly remember listening to on the Region 1 NTSC DVD.

    Again, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very good, but it is utterly blown away by the DTS HD MA rendition. The dialogue in both is very crisp and clear, as one expects in such a dialogue-driven film, but the added separation from the music and sound effects in the lossless soundtrack makes the dialogue even easier to understand. No problems with audio sync were noted.

    The score in X2 was composed by John Ottman, who seems to be something of a John Williams or Danny Elfman to Bryan Singer. Apparently he was too busy directing Urban Legends: Final Cut to work on the previous film (yes, that does sound funny to me). Where the X-Men score was dominated by strings and unreal-sounding combinations with the sound effects, the X2 score takes on a more percussive, dramatic, and straightforward approach. What both scores have in common is that they enhance the onscreen action beautifully. During Pyro's big moment at the Drake residence, the music syncs up perfectly with the lead-in, the carnage, and Rogue's effort to stop him before he kills someone. I enjoyed this score so much that I bought it on CD, and would gladly buy a 7.1 channel, 96 kHz version of.

    The surround channels are again aggressively utilised to support disembodied voices such as Nightcrawler's, directional effects like Pyro's flamethrowing, or the music. Again, it is a well-integrated surround field that gives a genuine feel for the environments that the characters inhabit. It is also somewhat more subtle, less gimmicky, than is the case with the original X-Men's audio transfer.

    The subwoofer is also aggressively utilised to support the music and such effects as Cyclops' optical blasts or doors closing. It is well-integrated with the rest of the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    In contrast to other Fox discs, we get a full, proper Top Menu. Navigating the language selection menus is a little unintuitive, but the menus are generally well-made.

Audio Commentary - Bryan Singer (Director), Tom Sigel (Cinematographer)

    This commentary was on the previous DVD release. It is a fairly entertaining and informative commentary, but people who are not fans of the film or the director can skip this one without missing anything.

Audio Commentary - Lauren Schuler Donner (Producer), Ralph Winter (Producer), Dan Harris (Writer), David Hayter (Writer)

    Again, this commentary was on the previous DVD release and not all that important. In fact, it gets a little boring in places.

Trailer - X-Men

    Two minutes and twenty-five seconds. In the aspect ratio of 2.40:1, high definition, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. It includes some dialogue and shots that were not in the final cut. Otherwise, it is pretty unremarkable.

Trailer: X-Men: The Last Stand

    I call false advertising. The proper name of this piece of s*** is X-Men In Name Only. Ninety-five seconds is nowhere near enough to catalogue how supremely they failed with this effort. High definition, 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. In case I did not make it clear already, I will put it in terms me and mine will grok: a curebie wrote this steaming, insulting t***.

Trailer: Daredevil

    One minute and forty-four seconds, 2.35:1, high definition, Dolby Digital 5.1, about as memorable as a dream of staring at a white wall.

Trailer: Fantastic Four

    Again, false advertising. The proper name is The Barely Adequate Four. Two minutes and twenty-six seconds. High definition, 2.35:1, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

BonusView Material

    This option, when activated, presents various material such as interviews in a smaller 16:9 window in the lower right corner of the screen with DTS LBR 1.0 audio (as the packaging states). Not exactly the best use of BonusView, but not a total write-off, either.

In-Feature Photo Gallery

    This option displays making-of photos in windows of various sizes during the main feature. One cannot have the subtitles activated whilst this feature is in use.

Disc Two

Featurette - The Secret Origin Of The X-Men

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition. Fifteen minutes and twenty-six seconds.

Featurette - Nightcrawler Reborn

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition. Seven minutes and thirty-six seconds.

Featurette - Nightcrawler Attack: Multi-Angle Study

    Presented in various aspect ratios between 1.66:1 and 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition, not 16:9 enhanced. Two minutes and twenty-five seconds.

Featurette - Evolution In The Details: Designing X2

    Presented in varying aspect ratios from 1.78:1 to 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition, but 16:9 enhanced. Eighteen minutes.

Featurette - United Colours Of X

    Presented in varying aspect ratios from 1.78:1 to 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition, but 16:9 enhanced. Eight minutes and fifty-seven seconds.

Featurette - Wolverine/Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Eighty-four seconds.

Featurette - The Second Uncanny Issue Of X-Men: Making X2

    Presented in the aspect ratios of 1.33:1, 1.66:1, and 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. 16:9 Enhanced. Fifty-nine minutes, twenty-seven seconds.

Featurette - Introducing The INCREDIBLE NIGHTCRAWLER!

    Presented in the aspect ratios of 1.33:1 and 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. 16:9 Enhanced. Nine minutes, forty nine seconds.

Featurette - Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. 16:9 Enhanced. Two minutes and twenty-seven seconds.

Featurette - Nightcrawler Time-Lapse

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. 16:9 Enhanced. Three minutes and forty seconds.

Featurette - FX2 - Visual Effects

    Presented in the aspect ratios of 1.78:1 and 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. 16:9 Enhanced. Twenty-four minutes and fifty-eight seconds.

Featurette - Requiem For Mutants: The Score Of X2

    Presented in the aspect ratios of 1.78:1 and 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. 16:9 Enhanced. Eleven minutes and thirty-nine seconds.

Featurette - X2 Global Webcast Highlights

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. 16:9 Enhanced. Seventeen minutes and one second.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region B misses out on;

    Region A wins big, in other words.

Summary

    "Which holocaust shall be chosen?"

    When Luke Goss spoke those immortal words in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, I was immediately transported back to my experience of seeing X2 for the first time. Many questions are asked of the audience during X2. The one that stands out to me the most, just as it did then, is how much dehumanisation and insensitivity we have to take from the normalists before they justify our use of force to prevent them from achieving their objectives. And contrary to what the Wrights or a certain other film I will not glorify by mentioning in conjunction with this review will tell you, a world with no Mutants will not be an improvement. Mutants are the reason there is a wheel, knowledge that diseases are not caused by evil spirits getting into the host, or the opportunity to mock the extremists for not understanding exactly where the Second Law Of Thermodynamics applies. X2 is a great celebration of these things and more. Thoroughly recommended viewing.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras are pretty ordinary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic Viera TH-42PZ700A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR606
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Wharfedale Xarus 1000 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, Wharfedale Diamond SW150 Subwoofer

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