REVIEW #1 of X2 DVD

DVD File has up the first review of the upcoming X2: X-Men United DVD, and its a positive one! Here's a clip...

X2: X-Men United is a better film than the first - fun, fast and oozing with subtext. This is a very fine two-disc set that delivers
The mutants are back! After the first X-Men made over $150 million at the domestic box office, a sequel was foregone conclusion. But I will freely admit to not being a huge fan of the original. It suffered from feeling like the first installment of a series that hadn't even been conceived yet - too much setup and not enough mutant melodrama and cool action. So imagine my surprise when I enjoyed X2 even more than the first - not only was it about the only sequel this summer that didn't suck, I'm now really hankering for a third.

X2 is filled with so many characters and subplots that I won't even try to explain the story. In brief, Professor Xavier has opened his secret school for gifted mutants, which attracts X-friends both new and old. Wolverine and Jean Grey still have the hots for each other, Storm is booging down with the mysterious new mutant Nightcrawler, and Cyclops still stands around looking pretty. Meanwhile, some evil guy named Stryker tries to blow everyone up, Lady Deathstrike boasts one very fierce manicure, and a major X-Person eventually bites the dust. What will those crazy mutants think of next?

X2 improves upon the original in every way. Bigger budget, better special effects, a great score, solid performances and some very well-mounted action sequences. Of course, this still feels like an X-Miniseries - there are so many characters and themes and threads left dangling that the ending has little hope but to act as a trailer for X3. Some of the fine cast also feels underutilized - just as the sexual tension between Storm (Halle Berry) and Nightcrawler (Alan Cummings) heats up, Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) comes to defrost it by making goo-goo eyes with Rogue (Anna Paquin). Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is still technically the lead and gets all the best scenes, which thus renders the Cyclops (James Marsden) and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) faux-menage a trois almost irrelevant. And Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) are still engaged in a staring contest, spouting major profundities about Destiny and Fate and the End of all Mankind, but at this point it is all so cheesy that it just adds to the X-Fun. Still following all of this?

Movies like X2 exist solely to provide a fun summer rollercoaster ride with a little social allegory thrown in, and on that level it works beautifully. And what is the real hidden theme of the X-Men United? This may just be the gayest summer blockbuster of all time, a movie so oozing with subtext it should have its cable premiere on Bravo. When Iceman "comes out" to his parents, half of the packed West Hollywood audience I saw it with broke out in grateful applause. It may be heavy handed, but the mutant-as-outsider-slash-minority allegory gives X2 the kind of kick lacking in most other mindless Hollywood action fare and gives the diehard cultists another reason to clutch the film to their hearts. How nice when a movie is conceived with both mainstream audiences and fankids in mind. X3? Bring it on.

Video: How Does The Disc Look?

Both of the previous X-Men DVD releases looked terrific, so did you really expect anything less from X2? What a great transfer - pristine print, deep blacks and excellent color reproduction. X2 is a much better looking film than the drab first X-Men. with stronger hues and an ultra-shiny, sleek veneer. Detail is often X-traordinary, with a sense of three-dimensions that is eye popping. Contrast is excellent with impeccable shadow delineation - even the darkest scenes look absolutely real and lifelike. Thankfully, Fox has not overloaded this two-disc set with extras that would take away from the main feature - this transfer is free from compression artifacting and blocking. Alas, the only thing to pull down X2 half a notch is some slight ringing noticeable around hard objects and a few scenes that appear a bit too contrasted. Hardly severe, but a little bit noticeable on large screens. Still, a Grade-A, er, Grade-X, transfer.

Audio: How Does The Disc Sound?

Fox gives X2 the full Dolby Digital and DTS treatment and both are scorchers. Like the recent Daredevil DVD, no expense has been spared to make us believe we are wrapped 360-degrees in the world of the X-Men. This is the kind of thing Hollywood does best - mega-bombast that is so overwhelming it makes us forget any cracks in the story.

Every aspect of this soundtrack is impeccable. Terrific frequency response delivers loud, aggressive low end, a wide midrange and sweet highs. Dialogue is perfectly balanced with the evocative score by John Ottman and all of the slam-bang effects. The soundfield often feels wonderfully three-dimensional with excellent imaging across all channels - improved on the DTS but still palatable on the Dolby Digital track. Surround use is constant and very well done - I noticed subtle discrete sounds throughout, with even some sweet vocal effects to heighten the effect. And here is one case where the DTS really is an improvement - tighter channel separation, deeper low end and more minute detail noticeable in the quieter sounds. Watch out, Daredevil...this one is a contender for top comic-book soundtrack.

Optional French and Spanish Dolby 2.0 surround dubs are included, along with subtitles in English, French and Spanish and English Closed Captions.

Supplements: What Goodies Are There?

A perfect companion piece to last winter's X-Men 1.5 release, both of these two-disc special editions were produced by Ludovico Technique and feel like two sides of the same coin. There is a consistency to the menu design, aesthetic approach and presentation style that is most welcome - plop these two together on your shelf and they'll look like mutant DVD versions of Mary-Kate and Ashley.

First up on disc one are two screen-specific audio commentaries with Bryan Singer and director of photography Tom Sigel, and producers Lauren Schuller-Donner and Ralph Winter and the writing team of Michael Doughtery and Dan Harris, plus early draft writer David Hayter spliced in sparingly. Both are great tracks, even if I enjoyed the writer and producer commentary more. Singer and Sigel tend to veer towards the technical, focusing on specific sequences and production challenges; more intriguing to me was the script and the challenge in following up a hit movie filled with so many characters and subplots. All can get a bit pretentious discussing the depth of the story (this is still a comic book movie, isn't it?), but it remains

Disc two is primarily set up as a series of featurettes that function as one long full-length documentary. Divided into four sections - The Origins of X-Men, Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production - all are a combination of slick new
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EarthsMightiestAdmin
8/29/2003
DVDfile.com

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