(Rental Version)

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Details At A Glance

Category Science Fiction None
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 2000
Running Time 100:01 Minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Bryan Singer
Fox.gif (4090 bytes)
Fox Home Video
Starring Hugh Jackman
Patrick Stewart
Ian McKellen
Famke Janssen
James Marsden
Halle Berry
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI Rental 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 No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Much like Where The Heart Is, which I reviewed the previous day, I had volunteered to review the 2000 production of X-Men because of a single name that appears in the cast listing, in this case Famke Janssen. For those who aren't aware, Famke's big claim to fame is having appeared in GoldenEye as the beautifully malicious Xenia Sergeyevna Onatopp, the best Bond girl since Diana Rigg's portrayal of Tracy Draco. Aside from her, the only other names in the credits that I recognize would be Ray Park and Patrick "I was a serious actor once" Stewart. The rest of the characters, especially Wolverine, are merely a group of unrecognizable faces, combined with some elaborate and surprisingly good special effects. In all honesty, I actually prefer the grittiness of this production to any of the animated series or the comic books, as I just cannot see characters like Cyclops and Wolverine wearing yellow spandex. However, the film does vary somewhat from the comic book canon, as Rogue's real name was unknown in the comics, and Wolverine was only supposed to be five-foot-three (about one hundred and sixty centimetres).

    Nonetheless, when we suppress such liberties that have been taken with the X-Men canon, what we have is a reasonably enjoyable film that will serve as a good introduction for those who haven't read any of the comics or seen any of the animated films. The film begins with an introduction by Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who explains the rise of the mutants as being the result of random mutations, as opposed to the result of genetic manipulation by aliens as the comic books would have it. We then see a glimpse of a concentration camp in Poland, where a young Erik Magnus Lehnsherr (Brett Morris) is taken from his parents by the Nazis, and bends one of the gates using telekinetic powers in his rage. We then fast-forward to an indeterminate point in the future where mankind is struggling to find a way to cope with the mutants, and vice versa, with political debates mounting and being dominated increasingly by fear and resentment on the side of the former. Doctor Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) attempts to advocate tolerance to the world's leaders, but with violent rogue mutants in the world, it is an uphill task.

    We then see a young girl named Marie (Anna Paquin) making out with her boyfriend, but things go terribly wrong when her mutant powers come to the fore and begin draining his life-force away. Naturally, Marie is quite distressed and flees the country, heading along the route she had envisioned taking once she had finished high school. Along the way, she comes into contact with a man named Logan (Hugh Jackman), who has a skeletal system that is reinforced with a unique alloy, and has the mutant power of self-healing as a result of the implantation. These two mutants, in respective order, adopt the aliases Rogue and Wolverine as they drive away in search of a place where they will be free to be themselves. Along the way, they are attacked by Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), before being rescued by Storm (Halle Berry), and Cyclops (James Marsden). They are then introduced to Doctor Grey and Professor Xavier before we are more fully introduced to the bad guys. The bad guys are lead by an adult Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, aka Magneto (Ian McKellen), who feels that humanity is about to start another holocaust upon the mutants and wants to beat them to it. His minions include the aforementioned Sabretooth, Toad (Ray Park), and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). Caught in the middle of this conflict is Senator Robert Jefferson Kelly (Bruce Davison), among other humans who insist on getting in the way of the two mutant factions fighting each other.

    In my opinion, this is a comic-book adaptation that can be placed in the same class as Batman (I mean the Tim Burton adaptations, not the idiotic ones that were tailored to those who mistake the 1960s television show for the real Batman), rather than the appalling waste of time that we call The Avengers. The characters and their individual conflicts really come to the fore and give this film personality, although the bad guys tend to be more crude and one-dimensional. Rogue in particular is hard to not sympathize with, and the manner in which the human characters behave almost makes me root for the bad guys. I highly recommend renting this particular DVD for an evening's entertainment, especially if you haven't read an X-Men comic book in your life.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced, the way I am sure we want to see all rental transfers released, lest the neophytes get the idea that DVD transfers look any better when modified to fill their pathetic little 4:3 screens.

    The transfer is razor-sharp throughout the feature, with a myriad of fine details on display for the benefit of the detail junkie. The shadow detail of this transfer is excellent, as much of this film occurs in dark or dimly lit settings where only the superior shadow detail and resolution of DVD can keep the film making sense. Another plus for this DVD is that there is no low-level noise to spoil the dark look of the film.

    The colour saturation in the brightly lit scenes is warm and vibrant, giving such sequences as those shot in Xavier's academy a homely, welcoming feel. Most of the rest of the film is somewhat subdued by comparison, but this is more because of the low lighting than any specific choice or problem in the saturation. There are no signs of oversaturation, bleeding, or misregistration, although Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' Mystique costume is quite hard on the eyes at times due to its use of a harsh shade of blue.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer, although I still would have preferred a dual-layer transfer just to make the backgrounds of some shots look a little smoother. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a couple of minor instances of aliasing at 44:43 and 46:11, to name the examples that I could notice. Given the amount of chrome and fine lines that exist in this film, the lack of aliasing in the transfer is quite a pleasant surprise. Film artefacts consisted of the very occasional white mark on an inconspicuous area of the frame, which is somewhat disappointing for such a recent film, but this is tempered by the fact that the total number of such marks can be counted on one hand. This is definitely a transfer with which to impress family and friends.


    There is only one soundtrack in this audio transfer: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second. It would be quite interesting to hear the film rendered in Spanish or German, but I think that quite a lot would be lost in the translation, so what we have here is perfectly sufficient. Still, it would be nice to hear the film in DTS because of some of the surround effects that are used.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, with a couple of minor limitations posed by Toad's manner of speech. Naturally, only the good guys and Magneto really have anything important to say, so these occasions when other characters are slightly difficult to understand are nothing to worry about. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, save for the occasional instance of dubious sound effect dubbing.

    The score music in this film is credited to Michael Kamen, and it is a reasonable effort given the limitations of the genre and story that the film follows. While there is nothing immediately remarkable about the music, it does follow the on-screen action faithfully and provides an appropriate atmosphere, which is all you can really ask for.

    The surround channels were constantly and aggressively utilized by this soundtrack to provide an immersive sound field. During Wolverine's dash through the mutant academy, telepathically projected voices can be heard from the general area of the surround channels, giving the sequence an uncomfortable, frightening sort of sound field that perfectly matches the onscreen action. Even during the quiet, dialogue-based moments of the film, the surround channels provide a haunting atmosphere that complements the visual element of the film perfectly. The subwoofer had a whale of a time lending a bottom end to this film that complemented both the action sequences and some of the dialogue sequences, all without becoming conspicuous.



    The menu is in the same static rental style that was used on Where The Heart Is, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 rental version of this disc misses out on;     In spite of the fact that we are missing a lot of extra features on the rental version of this disc, the only one that is of any significance as far as I am concerned is the extended cut, which may surface on the eventual sell-through edition of the film. Since there is no significant difference in transfer quality, I am inclined to wait for the PAL version of this disc to become available, but your opinion may differ. I am also personally inclined to continue importing every film on which Fox Home Video places a rental window as a form of protest against the Panning And Scanning of 1.85:1 films, in spite of the fact that this 2.35:1 film is (perplexingly) in its proper aspect ratio.


    X-Men is a worthwhile comic-book adaptation, presented on a reasonable DVD.

    The video transfer is in the proper aspect ratio, and virtually free of artefacts. In other words, it is everything we should be demanding if distributors are going to be so insistent on the use of rental windows.

    The audio transfer is simply excellent, providing great demonstration material for those times when neophytes just don't seem to understand why it is worth spending all that money on a 5.1-channel system.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
January 12, 2000 
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