X2: X-Men United (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

The tension between mutants and humans continues to intensify, even with Magneto (Ian McKellan) behind bars. The situation hits a new level of panic however, thanks to an attempt to assassinate the President of the United States. The assassin seemed to have mutant powers, which turns even more humans against their cause. A lot of humans, including those in positions of power have begun to promote the Mutant Registration Act once more, but some, such as General William Stryker (Brian Cox), have more drastic measures in mind. Stryker wishes to wipe out mutants as a whole, in order to ensure safety for mankind. He is rumored to have been involved in some top secret projects, some of which involved experiments on mutants, perhaps even one known as Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). At the same time, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) tries to keep things even handed and continues to run his school for mutants. When Stryker invades his school however, even Xavier sees the need for some kind of action. This leads to a partnership of sorts with Magneto, who has escaped his unique prison. The two make an odd couple, but with the survival of mutants on the line, they have no real choice. Will Stryker’s evil plan be thwarted by the X-Men, or will he see to it that mutantkind is exterminated?

Even before X-Men ever hit theaters, you could just tell a sequel was in the works and that was confirmed when the film became a smash success. If nothing else, the source material was just too rich to allow only one feature film, as cool characters, great storyline arcs, and tons of potential cash were all right there. And the original X-Men film seemed to be designed as a stepping stone, to get much of the needed exposition out of the way, so that the sequels could focus more on action and the like. But could X2 manage to overcome the usual sequel stumbling blocks, or would it wind up as just another lame sequel? I have to admit, I was let down with X2, but I expected a lot and was only given a medium level of entertainment. I wanted epic battles and landmark special effects, but instead, I found more of the same elements from the original. The fight scenes are fun to watch, as are the nifty special effects, but both are in short shrift here. So while X2 isn’t better than the original, it is just as good in most sequences. The cast returns the major players, while a few new faces keep things fresh. If this is to become a true franchise, I hope the cast remains intact, as a switch in one of the pivotal roles could sink future installments. If you like the original film, this is one is well recommended, but don’t expect the world from this sequel.

One of the coolest, most memorable characters in X2 is Yuriko Oyama, but sadly, her screen time is rather limited. But she should have been around much more, as her battle with Wolverine is a highlight of the movie, thanks to her wicked acrobatics and of course, razor sharp manicure. This femme fatale isn’t just cool by default however, as she is brought to life with a superb performance by Kelly Hu. She brings a sense of class to the role, which quickly turns brutal and violent when needed, quite a stunning combination. Kind of like Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, a character with far too little screen time, but one which stuck with audiences and turned out to be a high spot in the picture. Hu is much better than I expected, as she runs with the part and really makes the most of her screen presence. Of course, when you’re this gorgeous and have such a killer body, its not hard to command the screen. She is not just good looks though, her skills show real promise and she should have a solid career. Other films with Hu include The Scorpion King, Strange Days, Fakin’ Da Funk, and Cradle 2 The Grave. The cast also includes Hugh Jackman (Swordfish, Kate & Leopold), Famke Janssen (House on Haunted Hill, Goldeneye), and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Femme Fatale, Rollerball).

Video: How does it look?

X2: X-Men United is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. This looks great, a sharp, clean transfer that almost delivers an elite level presentation. The metallic color design works well, with accurate replication of the hues and contrast is right on, so no issues there. I found detail to be excellent, even three dimensional at times, but not quite as consistently remarkable as the best Blu-ray has to offer. Even so, fans can rest assured that the depth here will dazzle, no doubt. In the end, we have an excellent visual effort that more than delivers.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD 5.1 option is awesome. I mean awesome. I was floored by the lossless soundtrack on the first movie, but this one is even better. This one has power to burn, handles the subtle moments with great depth, and always enhances what is on screen, simply an excellent presentation. The fight scenes are wicked, with intense impact from the surrounds, as are the other action related segments. When the action cools down, the soundtrack remains active and makes sure even the most laid back scenes have a natural presence. In short, pure audio TNT. 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?

The first disc here holds two audio commentary tracks, one with director Brian Singer and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, the other with producers Lauren Schuller-Donner & Ralph Winter and writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris. This movie has a lot of characters and a lot of plot movement, so it was good to hear from the writers, who discuss their approach to the material and the wealth of potential it holds. As usual, Singer provides some worthwhile production notes, but the second track proves to be the better of the two. The rest of the supplements are found on the second disc, including the standout piece, The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men: The Making of X2, a piece that runs just over an hour in duration. This is the kind of behind the scenes piece we want, one with lots of genuine insight and minimal promotional fluff. But if you’re interested in shorter, more focused featurettes, then be prepared for a deluge, as this release is loaded to the gills with brief looks behind the scenes. You can watch over ten of these programs, each of which focuses on a different production element, such as the creation of certain scenes, the musical score, the special effects, and stuff like that. This release also includes six still photo galleries, a collection of deleted scenes, and three of the film’s theatrical trailers.

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