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Pick of the Week: “X2: X-Men United” DVD

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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“X2: X-Men United” was a big hit in theaters, and now Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is releasing an attractive two-disc DVD version of the film packaged with lots of extras. “X2” is the sequel to “X-Men” (2000), and all the main stars return, including Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

Adapted from a Marvel comic book series, “X-Men” was based on the premise that certain humans are evolving into mutants with special powers. These mutants are associated with Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), and are called X-men because of the first letter in the Professor’s last name. Each mutant has some special power. For example, Storm (Halle Berry) can control the weather, Cyclops (James Marsden) has an eye that can emit laser blasts, Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) is a shapeshifter, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has retractable, razor-sharp claws.

“X2” picks up not long after “X-Men” leaves off, and all the important cast members are back, including Stewart, Jackman, Berry, Marsden, and Romijn-Stamos, as well as Ian McKellen as Magneto, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, and Anna Paquin as Rogue.

The new film also introduces some new mutants, including the teleporting, blue Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), who speaks English with a German accent.

The general population of ordinary humans is prejudiced against mutants and wants to see them persecuted. In “X-Men” this led to a conflict within the mutant community, with some seeking to peacefully coexist with humans, while others supported violent opposition. But in “X2” there’s a hate-filled, high-ranking American military official, William Stryker (Brian Cox), who wants to kill all mutants. This forces the mutants to work together against their common foe and justifies the long version of the sequel’s title “X2: X-Men United.”

I found “X2” to be a lot of fun, entertaining throughout, and an especially good-looking and cinematic film. Also, I’d give this movie high marks for production values, special effects, and acting. I particularly liked Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. This film is well-paced, and there is just the right mix of action scenes and character-based story developments. I’d never mistake “X2” for high art, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable movie.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is releasing two different versions of “X2: X-Men United” on DVD, one containing the movie in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and the other containing the movie in pan & scan (1.33:1). Both are two-disc sets and both provide the same bonus materials: a feature-length audio commentary track by director Bryan Singer and cinematographer Tom Sigel; a second feature-length audio commentary track by producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter and screenwriters Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter; a making-of documentary; 10 featurettes; 11 deleted scenes; and other bonus materials as well. I’ve given a complete list of the special features below.

Selected Special Features on the DVDs:

  • Two-Disc Set
  • Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) or Pan & Scan (1.33:1)
  • English 5.1 DTS
  • English 5.
1 Dolby Digital
  • French Dolby Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Surround
  • English Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Commentary by Director and Cinematographer
  • Commentary by Producers (2) and Screenwriters (3)
  • Making-Of Documentary: The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men
  • Featurette: The Secret Origin of X-Men
  • Featurette: Nightcrawler Reborn
  • Featurette: Evolution in the Details — Designing X2
  • Featurette: United Colors of X
  • Featurette: Wolverine/Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal
  • Featurette: Introducing the Incredible Nightcrawler
  • Featurette: Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal
  • Featurette: Nightcrawler Time-Lapse
  • Featurette: FX2 — Visual Effects
  • Featurette: Requiem for Mutants — The Score of X2
  • Nightcrawler Attack: Multi-Angle Scene Study
  • X2 Global Webcast Highlights
  • Deleted Scenes (11)
  • Still Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailers (3)
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