This review is sponsored by
|Category||Science Fiction||Main Menu Introduction
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
|Running Time||100:01 Minutes|
Fox Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, ever so slightly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
|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|