Plot: What’s it about?
As human evolution advances, some people are given gifts and talents, while others remain in normal states. These gifts might include something small like faster running speed or better eyesight, but they could also be more powerful, such as invisibility or lethal to the touch. As these genetic variables begin to surface, they’re called mutants and many humans consider them to be dangerous. The man at the front of this campaign against mutants is Senator Robert Kelly, who thinks mutants should have register and explain their powers, so they can be watched and controlled. Two men watch him and his push very carefully and they are Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) & Magneto (Ian McKellan). Xavier runs a special school for the mutants who wish to remain on the side of good, while Magneto wishes to overthrow the humans and control the world. As you can imagine, these two have a lot of problems to work out and it won’t be easy. But when Magneto devises a plan that will set in motion his wishes and needs of Xavier’s newest students to complete it, can Xavier and his main crew of mutants save the day?
Movies based on comic books haven’t always done so well in the end, with only a few of them managing to remain above water. So when Fox announced they were making a motion picture based on X-Men, a lot of people had serious doubts and with good reason. But once the movie crashed into theaters, it became a smash success in terms of box office draw and popularity. I saw this film at a convention about a week before it hit the theaters and I wasn’t blown away, but I did think it was a fun, exciting piece of cinema. I suppose the main flaw here is the building process of the various characters and smaller storylines, which have fleshed out over years and years in the comic books. The film has under two hours, so it tries to fit in a lot of backstory and also supply plenty of action. I think this first film is a great action flick, but I think the sequels have endless potential. Once most of the backstories are out of the way, then the floodgates can open and we’ll have some real wild flicks. I just hope the producers can reunite this same cast, as all of them turn in terrific performances. This two disc Blu-ray release trumps all other versions out there, so if you want to see X-Men, this is the best way to do so.
Who in the world would play Wolverine? That is what I always asked myself and my friends once the film was announced, but we were clueless as to who it could be. I can’t think of any name talent in the business who could bring Wolvie to life, so I figured the role would go to someone outside the system. As it turns out, that was the case and the role of old Wolverine went to Hugh Jackman, who few people had ever even heard of. I can’t express enough how perfect he seems for this part and that’s good, since Wolvie is one of the most popular team members. Jackman plays Wolvie’s animal instincts very well and gives him just the right mixture of disdain & compassion. It was a vital role for this film and Jackman nailed it, let’s just hope he comes back in the potential sequels. The rest of the cast is also very good and includes Halle Berry (Bulworth, The Program), James Marsden (Disturbing Behavior, Gossip), Patrick Stewart (Masterminds, Lifeforce), Ray Park (The Phantom Menace), Ian McKellan (Gods & Monsters, Apt Pupil), Famke Janssen (Goldeneye, The Faculty), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Dirty Work), and Anna Paquin (She’s All That, The Piano). The director of X-Men is Bryan Singer, who also helmed such films as Lion’s Den, Apt Pupil, and The Usual Suspects.
Video: How does it look?
X-Men is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This isn’t quite the flawless visual effort I hoped to see, but the movie looks great and fans should be pleased. The detail here is good, much better than the DVD releases of course, but falls short of that “wow” impact the material deserves. Even so, overall depth is very good and most scenes show off a level of detail that makes sure you know this is high definition. The colors benefit also, so the vivid hues really light up in this treatment, while contrast is inky and never misses the mark. So not eye popping, but a damn good presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 option is about as bombastic as home theater can handle. The film has ample action to boot, which means the speakers are put through an intense workout. The surrounds kick into high gear from the first scene and never downshift, which supplies an aggressive, high impact presentation. When Wolverine lays the smack down, Cyclops emits a laser blast, or other action elements kick in, the speakers open up and it is loud and effective. This is one of the most dynamic, aggressive tracks I’ve heard in recent months, a total knockout from start to finish. This release also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, Spanish, French, and Portuguese language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A lot of goodies were ported over here, starting off with Bryan Singer’s director’s comments. The session is solid, as Singer talks about the process of bringing the comic book to life, the changes needed, and what had to be kept intact. So we have an open look at how the material was adapted for the screen, which is quite cool. Singer returns in an interview from The Charlie Rose Show, which also proves to be well worth a look. The first disc is also home to the ever popular Mutant Watch featurette, some behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes, production design stills, and some animatics. The rest of the stuff is on the second disc, including the five part look behind the scenes titled The Uncanny Suspects. While it would have been nice to have all five in one extended version, these combine to offer a more than solid inside scoop on the production. This release also includes Singer’s introduction, some internet promotional clips, television ads, and three of the film’s theatrical trailers.