(aka 'X-Men 2' or 'X' or 'X-2' or 'X-Men 2: X-Men United' or 'X2: X-Men United')

directed by Bryan Singer
USA 2003

While growing up I collected comic books as voraciously as I now collect DVDs. This was long ago and at that time there was a kind of renaissance... a flailing title of Marvel Comics (those that brought us Spiderman, The Hulk, Captain America etc.) called 'The X-Men' had a 'rebirth' at issue # 94... a copy I thankfully still own (its worth exceeds $100.00). It was transformed into The NEW X-Men... and the comic book industry would never be the same again. Presently just the spin-offs of 'mutant' variations initialized by issue number 94 now exceeds the entire output of the competition; DC Comics (Superman. Batman, The Flash etc.). About 10 years ago I tried to explain the importance of The New X-Men to some non-comic fan friends. I described it as "the Shakespeare of comicdom' and detailed the subtle, but important sub-themes. I don't know if I got through to them at the time... but I did prophecy how this phenomenon would continue to expand.

The original X-Men movie was well made, but perhaps its major flaw was its foreshadowing of a sequel. It was as if it was made solely with one in mind, and that detracted from the plot. However, the 2nd film 'X2' is one of the most enjoyable films I have seen all year. It encapsulated the important themes of the original Claremont/Byrne stories much better than the recent 'Hulk', 'Daredevil' or 'Spiderman' films, all three of which were pleasant ways to pass the time. X2 is in a totally different league. This is not due to the direction or acting... but the story and its central themes.

X2 once again unites characters who are both heroic and still very human... very imperfect at times. This is their major appeal. We share human emotional experience with them. They come from a variety of cultures and backgrounds and their prevalent battle is with societies lack of tolerance to their misunderstood minority. I've heard comparisons to homosexual expression, but I think it has meaning even beyond that. The human species are represented as having an opportunity to 'unite' or 'conflict'. This is entirely based on our tolerance. What does it mean to be tolerant? It starts with respecting one another's culture, religious beliefs and manner of existence without fearing it as a threat to your own. Tolerance means acceptance towards indulgence of beliefs or practices unique to, and possibly outside, your own vision. Tolerance is the key weapon in the battle with narrow-mindedness, prejudice, dogmatism and bigotry. In X2 it is represented in the guise of wonderfully created fantasy heroes who are self-described as "MUTANTS". Their conflict is in coping with their unique capabilities and also with societies judgment of them as a group.

Only one change I would have made in the film X2; when Scott Summers (Cyclops) vows his love to Jean Grey, her reply should have been "... and I you Scott, with all my heart". Other than that this was a fantastic film. It kept its violence to a minimum and it was as action packed a film as I can remember. The plot was complex enough to allow multiple re-viewings. The whole thing was steeped in suspense, love, desire, expressed faith, unrequited passion and the power of the human spirit while maintaining its comic feel with boyhood fantasy and heroic adventure at its core. What a marvelous ride! out of

Gary W. Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 24th, 2003 - UK

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Comparison:

20th Century Fox -  Region 1 - NTSC vs. 20th Century Fox -  Region 'A' - Blu-ray

(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox  Region 1 - NTSC 20th Century Fox  Region 'A' - Blu-ray
X2: X-Men United Blu-ray is also available in a Trilogy Blu-ray Boxset which includes X-Men / X2: X-Men United / X-Men: The Last Stand. It is available HERE:

              

Runtime 2:13:36  2:13:47.477
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.39 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 31,697,897,472 bytes

Disc Size:  34,248,652,758 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 31.59 Mbps

Bitrate:  DVD

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio English (5.1 DTS ES), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) DTS-HD Master Audio English 4075 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4075 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps /
24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1
/ 48 kHz / 640 kbps
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1
/ 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1
/ 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1
/ 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentaries: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0
/ 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0
/ 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None English, Chinese (Traditional and simplified) French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
 
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:


 • DTS Surround Sound, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound
• Commentary by Brian Singer and Tom Sigel
• Commentary by Lauren Schuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• Documentary – "The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men" – Making of X2
• 11 featurettes: "The Secret Origin of X-Men," "Nightcrawler Reborn," "Evolution in the Details – Designing X2," "United Colors of X," "Wolverine Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal," "Introducing the INCREDIBLE NIGHTCRAWLER!," "Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal," "Nightcrawler Time-lapse" (branch from Make-Up), "FX2 – Visual Effects," "Requiem for Mutants – The Score of X2," "X2 Global Webcast Highlights"
• 11 deleted scenes
• Still galleries
• Widescreen anamorphic format
• Number of discs: 2

DVD Release Date: November 25, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 40

Release Information:
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 31,697,897,472 bytes

Disc Size:  34,248,652,758 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 31.59 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Brian Singer and Tom Sigel
• Commentary by Lauren Schuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter
• Theatrical trailer(s) in HD!

Enhanced D-Box Motion Control Systems
Disc 2

History of the X-men

Origin of the X-men (15:26)

• Nightcrawler Reborn (7:37)

Pre Production

Nightcrawler Attack - Multi-Angle Study

- Angle 1 - Animatic

- Angle 2 - Unifinished Effects

Evolution in the Details - Designing X2 (18:02)

United Colors of X (8:56)

Production

Wolverine / Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal (1:24)

• Documentary – "The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men" – Making of X2 (59:27)s production Diary
• Other featurettes: "Introducing the INCREDIBLE NIGHTCRAWLER!," "Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal," "Nightcrawler Time-lapse" (branch from Make-Up), "FX2 – Visual Effects," (24:57) "Requiem for Mutants – The Score of X2," "X2 Global Webcast Highlights" (17:01)
• 11 deleted scenes
• Behind the Scenes Still galleries

Disc 3

Digital Copy for portable media players
• Total Number of discs: 3

Blu-ray Release Date: April 21st, 2009
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 40

 

Comments: NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION - Region 'A' Blu-ray - April 09': Firstly - to get this out of the way - the second Blu-ray disc of extras has a total size of 14,302,569,838 bytes and could have fit onto the first dual-layered Blu-ray disc of 34,248,652,758 bytes. Unless I am missing something this package didn't need to be a three disc'er (there is a Digital Copy disc as well) but only two. Aside from the D-Box Motion Controls, on the feature disc, extras appear to be duplicated - the two commentaries (equally worth a spin), hour-long making of... and the featurettes etc. - but nothing aside from the trailers in HD. I'll focus mostly on the image and audio - which is really the purpose of the upgrade.

How does it look? Very good but at present I think it visually falls a shade behind X-Men 3 The Last Stand which I also own and have watched. I preferred that Blu-ray's thicker appearance (which I have yet to analyze intensively) but I think this is the much better film. Still - this transfer is no slouch - detail takes a solid jump forward from the DVD - the 2.4 aspect ratio puts a fair bit more information in the frame edges. Contrast - especially in the darker scenes shows vast superiority loosing the minor artifacts and weaker rendering of the SD-DVD. Grain is present - very fine in the background and consequently can appear as noisy. In motion though the image is smoother, colors are significantly tighter - noticeable in skin tones which lose their orangey paste to emphasize a more realistic, warmer, tone. So while it is not quite pristinely sharp as X-Men 3 - it's still quite beautiful and the blending of effects is even more cohesive. It wouldn't surprise me to find these X-Men Blu-ray transfers rated as being some of the best of the year - not unlike their Spiderman Trilogy Boxset counterpart of 2007. Fox continues with excellence in this area. The film is so visually driven and I'm sure Marvel fans are very thankful for this 1080P appearance. It will impress most who view it.

Now, the audio - this is another barn-burner. The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4075 kbps has some incredible kick. The film is full of effect sounds and they seem to burst out all over the room. The punchy mix is a real treat and has excellent range - deep bass and comfortable high end. It seemed to be stretching the capabilities of my audio system. There is also standard 5.1 and some foreign language DUBs. Commentaries remain in 2.0 channel and there are optional subtitles in English (SDH), French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Portuguese.

NOTE: On my Momitsu BDP-899 I was able to identify that this is indeed region-locked to 'A' and only playable on those Blu-ray machines (or a region free player).

I have so many guilty pleasure but I don't think I need to be too guilty about this one. Singer does a brilliant job and the storytelling angles are magnificent - ditto for the myriad of performances. The Blu-ray is top shelf - slightly disappointing that there are no new extras but this is the best it's going to look and sound for a very long while. What an adventure film - it touches on humanity - our prejudices and may be the best Super hero film ever made - and the Blu-ray is the way to watch it ... with a big bag of popcorn - light on the salt but heavy on the butter. Go for it!           

***


 

ON THE DVD: If the image quality of the 20th Century Fox region 1 DVD has any flaws it might show some minor saturation at times... but that is being as picky as I can get. Due to the fantasy nature of the film it may have been planned that way. The colors, for the most part are rich and full... detail is pristine and contrast is very solid with penetratingly deep blacks. Saying that this is another strong candidate for DVD of the Year. Marvelous defined sound in both of the progressive camps; DTS and 5.1 . There are a whole second disc of Extras that I am still going through, but so far they are all superb. The commentary shows Singer and his staff really knew their stuff before even starting production. The real star of this is the story, and its faithful adaptation to the spirit of the comic.

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus and Extras for both

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)
 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)
 

 

People say I tend to favor close-ups of faces in my screen captures - this is true I find they identify the stronger detail of higher resolution. Here are some more from X2 - X-men United on Blu-ray clickable to full 1080 size:

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox  Region 1 - NTSC 20th Century Fox  Region 'A' - Blu-ray
X2: X-Men United Blu-ray is also available in a Trilogy Blu-ray Boxset which includes X-Men / X2: X-Men United / X-Men: The Last Stand. It is available HERE:

              





 

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Gary Tooze