Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
The X-Men, my favourite Marvel characters of all (with perhaps the exception of Spiderman), have finally been given their own movie! Now, thanks to 20th Century Fox’s DVD release of Bryan Singer’s X-Men, I have the opportunity to relive all those mutant power battles in the comfort of my own home. Am I excited? You’d better believe it, bub!

Can I borrow your nail file?

Feature


The story focuses on two factions of powerful mutants; the Brotherhood of Mutants, led by master of magnetism Magneto (Ian McKellen), believes that humans and mutants can never co-exist peacefully. They are convinced that war is inevitable and are prepared to go to any lengths to protect themselves. To this end they kidnap senator Robert Kelley, a vocal anti-mutant campaigner, and use him to test a gene-mutating device that alters his genetic code to that of a mutant as a precursor to a full-scale test of the machine. The latter group of mutants, known as the X-Men, are led by Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), a wheelchair-bound telepath who has established a school for the gifted (i.e. mutants) in order to teach them how to better control their powers. They seek to prevent Magneto and his followers from succeeding in their nefarious plans.

The story is fairly sound, and the performances are fine (especially Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman), but I can’t help feeling that more could have been done with the material. The number of mutants is fairly limited, and the choice a little odd. That said, I guess they had to start somewhere. It would have been nice to see Colossus, Nightcrawler and Beast etc. Still, they have included Wolverine, perhaps the coolest mutant around, with his indestructible adamantium skeleton, foot-long, razor sharp claws and super healing ability. In fact, a lot of the story revolves around Wolverine and his relationship with Rogue, a young girl who possesses the ability to absorb the powers and life force of anyone she touches (unfortunately she’s seen here before she permanently absorbed super human strength, invulnerability and the ability to fly). The biggest criticism I have is that the mutant’s powers are fairly tame in comparison to the comic book, especially Magneto and Jean Grey (played by the ever lovely Famke Janssen), who are both far more powerful in their comic incarnations.

Still, those are the bad points; the good points do just enough to offset them. Basically when the two sets of mutants do get it on, the sparks really fly. Wolverine is as hard as nails, as is his counterpart Sabretooth. Ray Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I) leaps all over the shop as Toad, Storm has her cool weather control powers and Cyclops has his optic blasts. One of the best characters in the film has to be Mystique, the shape shifter (played by Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). The transformation effects are fantastic, and the fact that her costume consists primarily of blue dye isn’t bad either…

See? This is what happens when you look at the world through rose-tinted specs.

Video


Video is pretty much flawless. The anamorphic 2.35:1 image is definitely one to show off the capabilities of DVD to you VHS owning mates. Obviously this is a very recent film, so nothing but the highest quality transfer would have sufficed. I’m pleased to say that you won’t be disappointed with what’s on offer here, as it’s reference quality. Everything is as sharp as Wolverine’s claws and there are no problems with the image, at least none that I could detect. This all goes towards making the special effects look brilliant, which indeed they are. X-Men is definitely one of the best looking films I’ve seen on DVD - a real visual feast.

Audio


Audio is also good, and comes in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround formats. The 5.1 mix is great, and the rear channels are constantly active during the film. One of the best examples of this is the way Professor Xavier’s voice echoes around the soundstage when he uses his telepathic abilities. This really uses the discrete audio capability of Dolby 5.1 sound to its best, with the Prof’s voice flying from the front to the rear speakers, around your head and back again. It was one of those effects that can actually make you look behind you, just to make sure there’s no one there! The rest of the audio mix, special effects and music are equally as accomplished, so all in all this is an aural treat.

Extras


What appears to be a great set of extras actually turns out to be surprisingly sparse. There are a number of deleted scenes that can be integrated into the film via seamless branching, but these are not up to the standard of the rest of the audio/video and they don’t really add a lot to the proceedings. There is also a short interview with director Bryan Singer, some trailers and TV spots, a stills and animatics gallery and Hugh Jackman’s (Wolverine) screen test. The longest of the extras is the 'Mutant Watch' featurette, a sort of faux senate hearing in which senator Kelley rants on about genetic purity, with interviews and clips from the movie interspersed throughout the proceedings. As well as the advertised extras, the disc includes a couple of Easter eggs, in the form of some sketches for mutants who didn’t make it into the film, and an amusing cameo from one of New York’s most recognisable super heroes.

Mmmm... tasty.

Overall


This is an enjoyable romp with good special effects and utterly amazing audio and video quality (good enough to convert a few people to DVD that’s for sure). It doesn't quite beat Blade to the number one comic book crossover slot in my opinion, but then I'm a big fan of the vampire hunter's film. If you’re looking for an engrossing plot, try another Bryan Singer film, The Usual Suspects. If, however, you’re just looking for a way to while away one hundred and four minutes, you could do a lot worse than this. I just wish it had been a bit longer so we could have seen some really cool mutant power battles!


Links: