Special Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes (6, either edited into the film or separately)
Crew Interviews - Bryan Singer (Director)
Theatrical Trailers (3)
TV Spots (3)
Trailer - Titan A.E.
Featurette - Soundtrack Promo
Featurette - Mutant Watch
Featurette - Hugh Jackman's Screen Test
Featurette - Animatics (2)
Gallery - Character Design
Gallery - Production Design
Easter Egg - Beast/Blob Preliminary Designs
Easter Egg - Spiderman walk-on
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 2000
Running Time 100:01 Minutes
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Bryan Singer
Fox.gif (4090 bytes)
Fox Home Video
Starring Hugh Jackman
Anna Paquin 
Patrick Stewart 
Ian McKellen 
Famke Janssen 
James Marsden 
Halle Berry
Tyler Mane
Ray Park
Rebecca Romjin-Stamos
Case ?Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Michael Kamen
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes, infrequently
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement Yes, ever so slightly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Although I had originally volunteered to review the rental release of X-Men with low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the film and the cast, especially Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, and Famke Janssen, so it was with some anticipation that I sat down to look at the sell-through release we've been asked to wait six months for. You can find the answer to the question of whether the wait was worth it in my comments about the transfer quality, but suffice it to say for now that this is a film that was made for DVD-Video. For those who have yet to see the film, here is a somewhat refined version of the plot summary I gave with my review of the rental release.

    The 2000 production of X-Men has been criticized for taking a few too many liberties with the official canon, such as changing the physical size of Wolverine or the age of Rogue. While the former probably couldn't be helped too much, I personally thought that the latter was a nice touch which gave the mutants an illusion of having pasts, and it isn't as if the comic books and cartoon series have kept their stories entirely straight, anyway. The film begins with the voice of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) explaining what mutation is and how it has played a key role in the evolution of our species. This is also quite a nice touch, since mutation, as part of an effort to evolve, is exactly what keeps the influenza virus from being wiped out by vaccination. Anyway, from there, we are shown a concentration camp in Poland, where a young Erik Magnus Lehnsherr (Brett Morris) is being taken from his parents by the Nazis. During a fit of fear and rage, young Erik uses his mutant power to bend one of the gates in the camp. From there, we fast forward to an indeterminate point in the future, where mankind is struggling to deal with the growing number of mutants emerging in society, and a political debate is currently building with one side, represented by Senator Robert Jefferson Kelly (Bruce Davison), advocating a Mutant Registration Act. Doctor Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) attempts to advocate a more tolerant attitude to the world's leaders, but this falls upon deaf ears, thanks in no small part to the efforts of mutants who feel there is no point in reasoning with a humanity that allows Senator Kelly to represent them.

    From there, we catch up with a young woman by the name of Marie (Anna Paquin), who discovers in a rather unpleasant way that she has mutant powers while making out with her boyfriend. Essentially, she has the power to use the powers of other mutants while making physical contact with them, or to drain the life force of normal human beings in the same manner. Naturally, Marie is quite distressed when she discovers what her touch can do, and she decides to flee the country by way of the route through Canada she had envisioned taking once she had finished high school. Along the way, she comes into contact with Logan (Hugh Jackman), or Wolverine as he is also called. Wolverine's primary mutant power is to rapidly heal himself, but it seems some rather unsavoury types within the military have also grafted a unique alloy to his skeletal system. An unpleasant confrontation ensues between Wolverine, some of the bar's patrons, and the bar's owner, all witnessed by Marie, or Rogue, as she begins calling herself. After hiding in Wolverine's trailer, she gets him to take her with him as he travels to the next town where he can use his mutant powers to make money.

    Along the way, however, they are attacked by Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), before being rescued and taken to Xavier's Mutant Academy in New York by Storm (Halle Berry) and Cyclops (James Marsden). We are then quickly given a more comprehensive introduction to the good guys before we get a glimpse of the bad guys, who are led by an adult Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, aka Magneto (Ian McKellen). Magneto feels that humanity is about to re-enact the holocaust using mutants, and would sorely like to beat them to it. Aligned with him on this goal are the aforementioned Sabretooth, as well as Toad (Ray Park) and Mystique (Rebecca Romjin-Stamos). As Magneto hatches an insane plan to make the politicians of the world understand the issues from a mutant perspective, Professor X sets his loyal mutants in motion to protect the very people who are threatening them. Caught in the middle are the aforementioned Senator Kelly and the young Rogue, both of whom have more significance in the struggle of the mutants than they initially realize.

    As I have mentioned before, this is one of those superior-calibre comic book adaptations which make the sugary-sweet bile put out by the likes of Disney all the more worthwhile avoiding. The heroic characters particularly come to life thanks to a smooth-flowing script and some excellent portrayals, particularly by Hugh Jackman and Anna Paquin, both of whom the film revolves around to a large extent. In fact, the only fault I can really pick with the film is that the bad guys, with the exception of Magneto, seem to lack a certain depth. Another interesting point about this film is that all of the televisions shown in this film are 16:9 shaped. The Internet Movie Database incorrectly assumes them to be HDTVs (just because they have the shape does not necessarily make it so), but it makes for an interesting contrast with other quasi-futuristic science fiction films that have made the assumption that televisions will stay the same shape that they have been since the 1950s. Anyway, fans of Tim Burton's Batman films should find little or no difficulty enjoying this adaptation of the X-Men comics, so sit down and get ready for an enjoyable hundred minutes.

Transfer Quality


    Transfers like this one are hard to evaluate because I am always in two minds about the overall score. There is but one small problem here that had me tossing up between scores of four and a half or just four stars, and after weighing the good against the bad, I am inclined to go with four and a half. Then again, owners of display units larger than a hundred centimetres should consider themselves warned that they won't be quite as forgiving as I am.

    The transfer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

    The transfer is razor-sharp throughout, which occasionally causes a few problems as I will cover shortly. The shadow detail of this transfer is simply stunning, with all sorts of subtle details on offer in the darker sections of the transfer at all times. An excellent example of this can be found at 8:33, where Ian McKellen's right eye is just discernible from the shadows that obscure this section of his face. There is no low-level noise, but a slight example of what looked like grain can be found in Halle Berry's hair at 56:38.

     The colours of this transfer are mostly muted and dull, with the only vibrant displays of colour being early scenes that introduce the two principal characters, and a few shots around the Mutant Academy. Aside from these parts of the film, the only flashes of bright colours are the lightning brought on by Storm, Cyclops' laser eyes, and Mystique's awfully blue skin. It is a testament to the value of restraint that all of these things were rendered without any bleeding, misregistration, or oversaturation.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer, with yet another example of quality encoding on offer. Film-to-video artefacts, however, are where this transfer loses a significant part of its sparkle, with frequent aliasing becoming quite an annoyance at times. While most of the aliasing was confined to very small sections of the picture, there were occasional whoppers such as at 87:13 where the shimmer was a little too obvious for comfort. This can partially be blamed on the sharpness of the transfer, as this movie contains huge amounts of very fine lines for the DVD player to snag itself on when converting the picture for display on an interlaced unit. I suspect that when one views this film with a progressive setup, the transfer will quickly attain reference quality. Film artefacts were restricted to the very occasional black or white mark on the picture, none of which were particularly intrusive.

    This disc makes use of the RSDL format, but no layer change was discernible when the theatrical cut of the film was played. Pauses that were consistent with layer changes were noted when the extended branching version was enabled, but since they are not found before extended scenes, and they occur twice in the extended version, they can't really be layer changes. A lot of trouble has gone into hiding the layer change on this DVD, which is commendable.


    Accompanying a great, if slightly flawed, video transfer is a reference-quality audio transfer, the likes of which should see a lot of use in Hi-Fi stores to test and demonstrate a set of surround speakers.

    There is only the one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second. The overall quality of this soundtrack makes me wonder what could have been accomplished with a DTS track, but what we have here is definitely of reference quality, believe me. The usage of the surround channels alone will leave you in awe.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, except for a few utterances being telepathically projected by Professor X which may be a little difficult to understand at first because their placement definitely throws one for a loop, which I will comment more about in a moment. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, save for some of Rebecca Romjin-Stamos' lines sounding as if they were slowed down in post-production.

    The score music in this film is credited to Michael Kamen, and I don't know why, but it has definitely grown on me since I heard it six months ago. Much of the score consists of fast-paced themes, designed primarily to build the excitement factor, and it wouldn't sound too out of place in a fourth episode of the Indiana Jones saga. Granted, with all the other distractions present in the picture and the audio, the score music tends to take a back seat, but it complements the rest of the film quite well.

    The surround channels are aggressively utilized to provide separation for disembodied voices, aircraft, lightning, laser beams, displaced water, the music, and numerous other sound effects. During the action sequences, it is hard not to be frightened by the plethora of effects that come running out of each channel at full volume, creating an extremely immersive sound field that can place the viewer right in the skin of their favourite character. During the quieter moments of the film, the surrounds trade aggression for subtlety, using a variety of neat, atmospheric effects that also serve to place the viewer right in the midst of the action. Wolverine's run through the Mutant Academy at 22:17 is a perfect example of this, with Professor X's disembodied voice cycling all around the sound field in a manner that can give the viewer quite a shock when they're not expecting it.

    Likewise, the subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting aircraft, lightning, punches, kicks, the music, and numerous other bass-heavy effects, all without calling attention to itself. One of the best examples of unusual subwoofer usage is at 35:08, where the lights in the X-ray machine seem to boom into life. Combined with the surround channel usage in this scene, it gives one a real sense of "being there".


    Before I begin, I'd like to make a comment about the packaging that the test disc was shipped to me in. This case was a tin about the size of your standard CD jewel case, and I hope that Fox or another distributor continue to use a similar model for their special "collectable" packaging, as all this case really needs is a better disc-holding mechanism to become one of the better examples of special packaging. It is definitely a vast improvement upon the shoddy cardboard gatefolds that Fox once asked in a survey if we'd be willing to pay an extra five dollars for.


    The menu is moderately animated, features a well-thought-out introduction, is accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and is 16x9 Enhanced. Navigation is very simple, although the direction the cursor takes at certain points, particularly in the extras menus, is a little counter-intuitive.

Deleted Scenes (6, either edited into the film or separately)

    I was told that this extra was featured on the Region 1 version of this disc, but the deleted scenes were not 16x9 Enhanced. The additional scenes on the Region 4 version of the disc, however, are 16x9 Enhanced. Six scenes, adding a total of ten minutes and sixteen seconds to the film's running time, can either be viewed separately from their own menu, or the film can be played back with them edited in.

    The branching system used to put the scenes back in is anything but seamless, however, with a noticeable pause in both the video and audio streams being noticed whenever the extra footage is inserted. The process by which the extra footage has been edited back in is not all that elegant, either, with the same footage often being repeated twice. The footage of Rogue in class with other mutants is particularly problematic in this regard, and it adds very little to the overall film. When all is said and done, this is a very unimpressive introduction to what was supposed to be one of DVD-Video's biggest selling points.

Crew Interviews - Bryan Singer (Director)

    When this feature is selected, the viewer is taken to a chapter listing style of menu that includes five options: Why He Made X-Men (1:44), Bringing X-Men From Comic Book To The Big Screen (1:29), Directing Actors (0:30), Learning From Actors (1:52), and The Challenges Of Making A Studio Film (0:43). Each chapter features director Bryan Singer talking with Charlie Rose about each subject, presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Clips from the film that illustrate Bryan Singer's many points are featured in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, not 16x9 Enhanced. They are also encoded without timing information, so the figures quoted here are actually taken from the stopwatch function on my Casio. This doesn't quite make up for the absence of a commentary track from Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman, and Anna Paquin, but it is a good start.

Theatrical Trailers (3)

    Under the special features menu, one can access these trailers by selecting the theatrical trailers and TV spots option. Theatrical Trailer A (1:03) is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. Theatrical Trailer B (2:31) is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is also not 16x9 Enhanced. Theatrical Trailer C (2:05) is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and is not 16x9 Enhanced. All three of these trailers are of excellent quality and are well worthy of the space they occupy on this disc, but it is severely disappointing that they are not encoded to take advantage of the screen shape that is so prominently featured in the film. Again, they are encoded without timing information, forcing me to approximate their length with my wristwatch.

TV Spots (3)

    Also included in the theatrical trailers and TV spots sub-menu are three spots that were used in the television campaign to promote this film. Unlike the theatrical trailers, they have specific titles, these being Human Evolution, Next Evolution, and One Hero. Human Evolution (0:31) is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. Next Evolution (0:31) is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. One Hero (0:31) is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Trailer - Titan A.E.

   Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this trailer is encoded without 16x9 Enhancement or timing information. The running length of the trailer is two minutes and five seconds according to my trusty watch, which is two minutes more than I was convinced I needed to see the film for. Strictly for anime or radio "music" fans only.

Featurette - Soundtrack Promo

    A typically cheesy thirty-two second soundtrack CD advertisement, presented with footage from the film cropped into the aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and the final picture of the soundtrack album's cover in 1.33:1, obviously not 16x9 Enhanced. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio does very little to sell this soundtrack.

Featurette - Mutant Watch

   A Full Frame featurette with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and footage from the film in the ratio of 1.66:1, based around a mock campaign speech or two by Bruce Davison. This is probably the most interesting featurette to be found on the disc, featuring interviews with Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, Anna Paquin, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Ian McKellen, Tyler Mane, Ray Park, and crew members such as director Bryan Singer. The featurette is well worth watching through its twenty-one minute and fifty-seven second length just to see the hilarious ending to Senator Kelly's speech.


    Referred to as the X-Men Featurette in the special features menu, this is another Full Frame, Dolby Digital 2.0 featurette with footage from the film cropped to 1.66:1, and a running time of six minutes and ten seconds. As you can probably guess from that, it is nothing more than an extended theatrical trailer, which is made really redundant by The Mutant Watch.

Featurette - Hugh Jackman's Screen Test

    If anyone had any doubts about Hugh Jackman's ability to play the part, they can be pretty much extinguished by this two-minute, 2.05:1 (or thereabouts, not 16x9 Enhanced), Dolby Digital 2.0 screen test. It's pretty funny to see Anna Paquin in costume, delivering her lines with perfectly sincerity when Hugh Jackman is quite plainly out of costume, but still playing Wolverine with the same subtlety.

Featurette - Animatics (2)

    In the Animatics menu, a choice between featurettes covering the Train Station Fight Sequence (0:53) and the Statue Of Liberty Fight Sequence (1:03). Both are presented Full Frame, and the soundtrack is reported to the player as Dolby Digital 2.0, but this soundtrack is actually silent. Both are worth watching once, especially when you've been smoking something you shouldn't have.

Gallery - Character Design

    The Art Gallery sub-menu is split into two options: Character Design and Production Design. This particular gallery shows concept sketches for each of the X-Men that made it into the film. The lack of annotation severely limits the interest factor.

Gallery - Production Design

    This particular gallery shows concept sketches for scenes in the film and their locations. Again, the lack of annotation severely limits the interest factor.

Easter Egg - Beast/Blob Preliminary Designs

    To access this Easter Egg, simply press the up key when the main menu option is highlighted. The dog tags in the middle of the screen should be highlighted. When they are, press enter, and you'll be taken to preliminary designs for characters that were originally intended to be shown in this film, but have been slated to appear in the upcoming sequel. Considering that there are only nine pictures in this gallery, and none of them are particularly revealing, this is less of a bonus than the hidden nature would imply.

Easter Egg - Spiderman walk-on

    Lest anyone get this confused with a teaser trailer for the Spiderman feature film that James Cameron was rallying so hard to make, I should clear up that this is merely an alternate take of one of the shots in the fight between Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romjin-Stamos. The shot features James Marsden, Halle Berry, and Famke Janssen performing their actions just before Ray Park enters the battle, when a man in a Spiderman costume walks onto the set. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and is not 16x9 Enhanced. To access this Easter Egg, highlight Trailer A in the Trailers And TV Spots menu, and press the left arrow. When the chess piece is highlighted, press Enter and view the (approximately) thirty-three second snippet.


    As far as we've been able to determine, there are no censorship issues with this title.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this title are identical, except for the fact that the deleted scenes that can be played
as part of the feature are not 16x9 Enhanced on the R1 version, at least according to readers who were kind enough to email me about this when I reviewed the rental version. Given that we have the added benefit of PAL formatting to boot, I have no hesitation in recommending the Region 4 version of this disc.


    X-Men is an excellent adaptation of a comic book that was inspired by the struggle of African-Americans for something resembling equal treatment in the eyes of the law. It is, in my opinion, equal to the adaptations by Tim Burton of the real Batman, which is probably the most ringing endorsement I can possibly think of, except maybe my feeling that Anna Paquin should have won another Oscar for her portrayal of a young Rogue. If you hate "family-oriented" thoughtless crap as much as I do, then you won't need any more encouragement to add this effort to your collection.

    The video transfer is a palette of contradictions: wonderful shadow detail, excellent colour fidelity, but a little too much aliasing.

    The audio transfer is a reference-quality example of DVD's ability to deliver a superior film experience, one that should be in every collection.

    The extras are somewhat lacking, but insightful, all the same.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
May 1, 2001
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer