X-Men 2 DVD Review

I'm a firm believer that the first X-Men surprised a lot of people. Not knowing much about the X-Men, I went in planning to be bored out of my mind. Needless to say I felt pretty ignorant by the time the credits rolled. By the time the necessary sequel made it's appearance, I was even more baffled since it was not only superior, but one great ride that can hold anyone's interest for the 2-hour running time. The film is a direct continuation of the original film, but it can still be followed by anyone who may not have indulged in the first. After an attack on the president by Nightcrawler, the already oppressive human society bears down on the mutants further. It immediately takes a sharp turn as the "Xavier School for the Gifted" is invaded on order by the president. Not only do the X-Men have to protect themselves, but disable an attack that could very well decide the fate of every human on Earth. Everything from the first movie has been crammed into this one, but it's of course bigger and much more fleshed out. It's pace is relentless, there's some spectacular scenes of tension, and the action is jaw dropping. The story does focus on Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) for the most part, but there's a nice cast of new characters as well, most notably Nightcrawler. The makeup used to create his look is uncanny and the film really helps develop his character for the proposed sequel. Also take note of the clues that drop hints at what new characters may be included. You may have to look a bit harder, but there's quite a few.
I simply couldn't imagine this film being cropped for a full screen presentation. Some of the vistas shot for this film are gorgeous (not to mention some of the effects) and the battle sequences use the full print effectively. The video is spectacular for the most part, but certain color heavy segments (notably the cerebo segments) suffer from major color bleeding and compression issues. Still, it's a more than serviceable presentation marred only by about 10 minutes of film time. If sound is your thing than you won't find much better than the DTS track included here. The rear speakers are used in practically every scene and the segments featuring an echo are unparallel. Bass is set to a perfect level, never overwhelming other sound effects. A 5.1 mix is also included and it also performs admirably. Special features included on this 2-disc set are outright spectacular, at times better than the movie!. Disc one features 2 full length commentaries, one from the director (Bryan Singer) and the cinematographer, the other featuring the writers and producers. Disc 2 is downright disgusting. There is literally over 4, maybe even 5 hours of content on this disc by my estimation including an hour long look at the making the film (though lacking any chapter stops). Some of the info included in this documentary is regurgitated in other locations on the disc, but it's almost always handled in a different manner. Nightcrawler gets a lot of attention with 3 documentaries dedicated directly to him. Really nice is the time lapse segment showing just how much work goes into his character every time he's ready to go in front of the camera. There's a half hour look at the origins of the X-Men, but it's disappointing to see it veer off into the world of the feature film about 10 minutes in. There's nifty look at the rehearsal for the Wolverine/Deathstrike brawl (complete with actual sound effects), a half hour look at all the special effect shots (it still amazes me how much work it takes), a brief segment on costumes and scoring the film, and just shy of a dozen deleted/extended sequences. It's an outstanding disc and it makes this one a worthwhile purchase as if the film wasn't already good enough. Note that there is a box set containing the X-Men 1.5 disc set and this one. Don't blindly buy it thinking there's something new on it (though the box is pretty spiffy!). Anyway, this is one of the better discs of the year so far (save for Lord of the Rings and what I'm sure will take the cake, The Alien Quadrilogy) and one of the better movies. Even if your not a fan of the film, the behind the scenes stuff is fascinating enough to warrant at least a look.

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