10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
**** VERSION 1.5 ****,
This review is from: X-Men 1.5 Extreme Edition [DVD] (DVD)
As most of the world knows by now, X-Men is the live-action version of the of the Marvel comic strip, directed by Bryan Singer (of the Usual Suspects fame). Set in the not too distant future the X-Men are humans who thanks to genetic mutation have inherited special powers. A box office hit back in 2000 taking in over $157m at the US box office alone, 2003 sees the sequel imaginatively titled X-Men 2 hit our cinema screens and as something of a pre-cursor the X-Men DVD has been repackaged and re-released complete with a host of new extras. But is it worth buying?
Disc 1 contains seven behind-the-scenes featurettes and six scenes deleted from the final cut of the theatrical release. Director Bryan Singer also provides an audio commentary (previously unavailable on the original DVD release) in which he discusses the movie, the difficulties filming it and provides the odd insight into the sequel. Plus Disc 1 also includes six extended scenes which can be incorporated into the main feature although these are not new, having been previously available on the original DVD version.
Disc 2's main feature is a (making of) documentary Evolution X, which pretty much covers the complete process of making the movie from pre-production meetings, costume fittings, through to the Ellis Island premiere. This, for many, will be a very interesting insight into the process of how a movie of this scale is brought together and exactly what goes on behind the scenes, with plenty of stress and gnashing of teeth from the film-makers.
Additional disc 2 also includes Hugh Jackman's screen test and a promo for the sequel. Whether you feel this enough to tempt you into buying X-Men 1.5 will depend on whether you already own X-Men on DVD, whether you buy DVDs for the extras (personally I don't) and how big an X-fan you are. The choice is yours!
Having special powers sounds great (you might think) but in X-Men the mutant race is an oppressed and persecuted minority, due to the bigotry, ignorance and fears of much of the non-mutant population. To make matters worse an ambitious and influential Senator (Bruce Davison) wants to introduce a registration policy for mutants in an attempt to further restrict their civil rights. Divided in how best to respond to this, the mutant community is split into two camps led by Professor X, aka Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto, aka Erik Mangus Lensherr (Sir Ian McKellen). Magneto believes in the supremacy of the mutant population, which he is willing to use force to prove, whilst Professor X merely wants, equality, integration and peace. With fundamentally opposing views the two camps are set on a collision course with the future of the human race at stake.
X-Men is an entertaining action movie and it has some great fight scenes but it is pitched at its intended mass audience and carefully falls short explicit violence making it pretty much suitable for all but young children. However, although the X Men movie comes from a comic book background and is definitely aimed at a mass audience it also has a message and is a lot more highbrow than most super hero adaptations. X Men for example opens with a scene in a Nazi concentration camp with a young Magneto witnessing his mother being shepherded off to the gas chamber and from this it is pretty clear that Director Bryan Singer is deliberately making a point and drawing a comparison. It is also worth noting that at the time of the X-Men's creation, back in 1963, among the major political figures in pre civil rights America were Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and it is easy to draw comparisons with Professor X and Magneto. Comparisons can also be drawn between X-Men character Senator Robert Kelly and a certain Senator McCarthy. What is more, X-Men is particularly pertinent at a time when there is so much tabloid speculation and scare mongering with regard to genetic engineering.
With X-Men Director Bryan Singer, a self-confessed fan, has stayed remarkably loyal to the comic books and has served up a commercial but extremely enjoyable film with impressive special effects, which has inevitably spawned a sequel and (in all likelihood) a franchise, which makes me for one very happy. Full of great characters and great performances from the likes of Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine), Anna Pacquin (as Rogue) and Famke Janssen (as Dr Jean Grey) and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (as Mystique). However, it is the excellent pairing of the Royal Shakespeare company's McKellen and Stewart opposite each other that really adds gravitas to the proceedings and my only real dissapointments were seeing the excellent and beautiful Halle Berry (as Storm) being under-used and the relatively short running length of 97 minutes.
X Men 2 hits our screens later this year,with the pre-release hype promising it will be bigger, better and more exciting. With several new X-Men, including Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler and Brian Cox as new nasty bad guy, General Stryker, if this one lives up to the hype it will be something special.
Four stars ****