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Bryan Singer
Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman
Writing Credits:
Zak Penn, David Hayter, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris

> Synopsis:
In the wake of a shocking attack on the President, the X-Men face their most dangerous mission ever.

Box Office:
$110 million.
Opening Weekend
$85.558 million on 3741 screens.
Domestic Gross
$214.948 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Castillian DTS 5.1
German DTS 5.1
Italian DTS 5.1
Czech Dolby 2.0
Polish Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 9/25/2018

Available Only as Part of “X-Men 4K Trilogy”

Disc One:
• Audio Commentary with Director Bryan Singer and Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel
• Audio Commentary with Producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter and Screenwriters Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter
• Marvel Universe Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


X2: X-Men United [4K UHD] (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 6, 2019)

When movies based on comic books produce sequels, it seems that the second flicks in the series often represent the best. One can argue that both Superman II and Batman Returns surpass their predecessors, and many will argue that 2003’s X2: X-Men United betters the original from 2000.

X2 opens up roughly where the first one finished. At that flick’s end, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) departs to try to learn about how he became a mutant, and X2 follows his quest.

After a slam-bang action sequence in which a new-to-us teleporting mutant named Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) almost assassinates the president (Cotter Smith), we join Wolverine in the frozen north as he comes to the Alkali Lake Industrial Complex, the site of experiments that made him the mutant he is today. Back in the lower 48, we re-encounter the rest of the X-Men. We learn that telepathic Jean Grey’s (Famke Janssen) powers have recently increased substantially and seem to be getting out of control.

When Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) learns of Nightcrawler’s attack, he meets with his main allies to plot how to work on the issue. He works with Jean as well as weather-manipulating Storm (Halle Berry) and laser-eyed Cyclops (James Marsden).

Others have their own ideas how to deal with the mutant issue: the president confers with Colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox), who wants to use force. Former anti-mutant hawk Senator Daniel Kelly (Bruce Davison) turned dove since the last film, but that’s because Kelly actually died and has been duplicated by shape-shifting Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) ever since then. It turns out Stryker’s been in touch with powerful mutant leader Magneto (Ian McKellen), and because he used to be Mystique’s boss, Kelly tries to get to visit him.

We also get to know some younger mutants: the edgy fire-controlling Pyro (Aaron Stanford), nice guy coldster Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and touch-of-death Rogue (Anna Paquin). Wolverine returns back to Xavier’s school and briefly encounters his old friends before they head out to investigate the assassination attempt. This reignites tensions between Cyclops and Wolverine, as both vie for the affection of Jean.

From there we discover that the cruel Stryker got information out of Magneto through the use of drugs. Stryker gets to Magneto one more time to get more details about Xavier’s school and his telepathy-amplifying device Cerebro. Xavier can use the tool to access virtually every person – and mutant – on Earth. This lets him locate Nightcrawler.

Storm and Jean go to retrieve him, and they find out why he acted as he did at the White House. Cyclops and Xavier visit Magneto, where the Professor grills his old nemesis about the attack and other issues. We get a hint of why Stryker hates mutants so much, since we learn that his son is one and Xavier couldn’t help him.

They also discuss Wolverine. Apparently Xavier knows more about Logan’s murky past than he’s revealed, and we’ll eventually discover a connection to current events there as well.

As all this occurs, Mystique infiltrates Stryker’s computer files and heads to rescue her buddy Magneto. Wolverine remains at home with Xavier’s students, which leaves him the sole leader as something terrible happens: Stryker stages an all-out assault on the school.

First his forces capture Cyclops and Xavier before all something breaks loose at the academy. Wolverine flees with Rogue, Iceman and Pyro, but not before a brief – and tantalizing for him – meeting with his maker.

From his assault, Stryker captures a few mutants, though most remain at large. He attempts to use Xavier to find and exterminate all the mutants.

Wolverine and the kids head out to hook up with Storm and Jean and regroup. Mystique uses a clever method to bust Magneto out of jail, and he then attempts to take the war with Stryker to another level. This results in a union between unlikely allies as our heroes try to rescue Xavier and stop the mutant Armageddon.

Earlier I posited that many prefer X2 to the original flick, and I find myself in that camp, though not to an extreme degree. As with the comparison between Batman and Returns, both seem very solid. In these cases, the sequels win just because they seem a little more self-assured and assertive.

X-Men was director Bryan Singer’s first action flick, and to his credit, he handled the movie’s set pieces quite well. The tight little picture didn’t include a ton of them, but what we got was fairly exciting, and he ramped up the action nicely.

In some ways, X2 blows its action wad a little early. The opening sequence in which Nightcrawler attacks the president flies by quickly and packs a great punch to launch the flick.

For a more extended piece, the assault on the school brings out the director’s best. It’s a dark piece that finally allows Wolverine to cut loose. The sequence doesn’t last as long as I’d like, but Singer sets up the battle in a tense manner, and while it occurs, he gives it a sense of heart-pounding action.

None of the film’s subsequent action pieces work quite so well, though plenty of fine sequences appear. The jet chase seems terrific, and the police standoff at Iceman’s house also presents nice involvement. The finale might be a little less climactic than I’d like, but it concludes the film on a reasonably satisfying note.

One consistent minor weakness of the first two X-flicks relates to character development. The first movie flew by at a relatively brisk 104 minutes, so we barely got to know the names of the participants, much less learn much about them.

X2 fills almost 40 minutes more, and since it includes many of the same characters, we probably should feel like we know them better. However, it packs in so damned many roles that development remains basic at best.

If anything, the characters seem less dynamic just because Singer may feel he doesn’t need to tell us much. Since we already know many of them, the director might not think they require much additional examination.

Not that the film really suffers for the absence of character exposition. After all, comic book flicks don’t really rely on that kind of thing. Character depth sure adds to movies when appropriate – such as in the Batman movies and in Spider-Man - but it’s not crucial. We want a decent story and some good action and we’re generally happy.

To be sure, X2 does attempt some character depth, mainly via Wolverine. However, without much time to devote solely to that role, those elements never add up to much. Granted, the movie connects Wolverine’s past to the current situation well, but these pieces remain minor.

Even if the various characters do get lost a bit along the way, I still really enjoyed X2. When compared to the first flick, it simply seemed tighter and more self-assured.

I didn’t find much fault with X-Men, but there’s an intangible feeling of confidence that more fully pervades X2. It comes across as richer and better developed.

Everything that worked in X-Men also succeeds in X2, just at a higher level. It’s a very good sequel.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio A/ Bonus B-

X2: X-Men United appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. While generally positive, the transfer didn’t excel.

Sharpness was good but not great. Although much of the film looked accurate, fine detail could sag at times.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minimal. Source fails failed to become an issue, but I felt grain was a bit heavier than usual, especially during interiors.

Colors appeared nicely clean and bright throughout the movie. They presented solid depth and were appropriately bold and rich. The flick didn’t present a tremendously broad palette, but the hues were consistently accurate and dynamic nonetheless, and the HDR added power to the tones.

Blacks came across as dark and deep, but shadows were just a little off. Those could seem a bit denser than I’d like, and interiors were slightly bland. This became an improvement over the first X-Men but it still seemed inconsistent.

Less equivocal pleasures came from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as the soundfield appeared very broad and engaging throughout the movie. All five speakers got a strong workout as they displayed a lot of discrete audio.

This made for a convincing environment as we heard plenty of atmosphere and objects swirl actively and appropriately about us. This started with the excellent “bamf” effects of the opening sequence and continued through the spooky Cerebro bits and the flick’s many action sequences.

Of particular note were the segments related to the destruction of the dam. From Cyclop’s blasts around to the structure’s final collapse, those parts really filled the room well. All these elements created great feelings of place and brought the material to life well.

Sound quality also appeared very good. Dialogue was crisp and distinct. Speech showed no signs of edginess or any problems related to intelligibility.

Effects were always clear and dynamic, plus they displayed virtually no signs of distortion even when the volume level jumped fairly high. Throughout explosions, crashes, and various elements, the track stayed clean.

Music sounded appropriately bright and accurate and portrayed the score appropriately. The mix featured some pretty solid bass at times as the entire affair seemed nicely deep. This turned into an excellent soundtrack.

How do the 4K UHD compare with those of the prior Blu-ray release? Audio remained the same, as both discs sported the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix.

Visuals showed improvements but not enormous leaps, as the 4K UHD seemed less than stunning. It did bring superior delineation, colors and blacks, though, so the 4K UHD was the better version.

On the 4K UHD disc, we find two separate audio commentaries. The first pairs director Bryan Singer and director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel.

Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track. Though it starts a little slowly and presents the occasional gap, overall the commentary seems quite positive.

Singer dominates the piece and offers a great deal of useful information. He gets into expected topics like locations, effects, and various challenges, but he also delves into areas like staying true to the comics, story and character developments, and bits of trivia about the production. Sigel mostly acts as Singer’s foil, and he also tosses out some notes about visual elements at times. In general, this seems like a lively and educational examination of the film.

The second commentary includes remarks from producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter and screenwriters Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter. Donner, Dougherty and Harris sat together for their running, screen-specific discussion, whereas the other two were recorded separately and their remarks were edited into the piece. Though not as strong as the prior track, this one includes a decent look at the movie.

The participants cover topics such as locations and sets, various production challenges, the script and changes made along the way, and anecdotes from the film’s creation. The writers prove to be the most entertaining, especially when they tell stories of mild excess on the set.

We also get some funny remarks about some of Singer’s actions during the shoot, such as when a statement from his mother almost provoked him to make a big change. A few too many empty spaces appear, and we inevitably find some material repeated from the prior track. Nonetheless, this one adds a reasonable amount of useful information and works nicely due to the light and lively tone.

A Blu-ray copy also provides some promos. A few Marvel Universe Trailers provide ads for the other two X-Men movies, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fantastic Four and Daredevil.

Note that the original Blu-ray release includes a second disc packed with extras. Sadly, those go absent here.

A consistently solid comic book flick, X2: X-Men United mostly improves on its predecessor. The movie packs lively action with an intriguing story to create a vivid and involving experience. The 4K UHD offers excellent sound, generally good visuals and two informative audio commentaries, though it loses many bonus materials from the Blu-ray release. The 4K becomes the best-looking version of the film but the absence of the Blu-ray’s supplements disappoints.

To rate this film, visit the original review of X2: X-MEN UNITED

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main