X-Men appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Allegedly the film received a new 4K scan for this release, but the result seemed spotty.
Sharpness usually worked fine, as most of the movie offered fairly nice delineation. However, some soft spots materialized. Occasionally these stemmed from the dated CG effects, but others offered less obvious reasons.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but light edge haloes cropped up at times. Other than one or two small specks, source flaws failed to crop up throughout the film.
Colors appeared well-reproduced, and they got a boost from the disc’s HDR capabilities. The palette tended toward blues, reds and oranges, and these looked full and vivid.
Blacks were pretty deep and dense, while shadows usually seemed very good. A few low-light shots appeared just a little murky, but not to a significant degree. Nothing about the image seemed poor, but I thought it lacked consistency.
I liked the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of X-Men, as the soundfield appeared 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. Some sample highlights included Wolverine’s initial meeting with Professor X, in which the latter’s voice popped up all around us.
The scenes in the “Cerebro” device create a somewhat similar “inside your head” effect; and the battle between Storm and Toad at the end of the film worked well. Actually, any of the fight scenes seemed powerful, but that one felt most exciting in the auditory realm.
Sound quality appeared very good, and 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 engines, the track stayed clean.
Music sounded appropriately bright and accurate and portrayed the score appropriately. The mixes featured some pretty solid bass at times. All in all, the soundtrack worked well for the material and didn’t disappoint me.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio remained identical, as both sported the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix.
As for the visuals, the 4K UHD demonstrated an improvement, as it appeared better defined and offered stronger colors. That said, it didn’t become the improvement I hoped to find, as its flaws made it less appealing than I hoped. It’s still a step up, but it’s not a big leap over the Blu-ray.
On the 4K UHD disc, we find an audio commentary from director Bryan Singer and his friend Brian Peck. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of the cast, the story and alterations made from the original script, effects and technical concerns, budgetary and scheduling problems, anecdotes from the set, and a number of other details. Singer also gives us some notes about what to expect from X-Men 2.
Peck performs the job of moderator well, as he gets Singer in a chatty mood and helps prompt lots of different topics. He even tries to convince Singer to go into subjects he won’t discuss, such as when Peck mentions an inappropriate actor who wanted to play Professor X, but Singer won’t reveal the man’s identity. Despite that tease, the commentary provides a nicely informative and enlightening piece.
The package includes a Blu-ray copy, and it provides additional extras. Through these, you can watch the movie either in its original theatrical configuration or as the Enhanced Viewing Mode.
This provides two forms of material. Six times during the film, it automatically branches off for extended/deleted scenes. The scenes last between 25 seconds and three minutes, 16 seconds, for a total of 11 minutes and two seconds of footage.
All of these relate to either the relationship between Rogue and the boy she meets in class or to the triangle between Jean, Cyclops and Wolverine. Most offer extensions of existing segments, which means that we often see these longer pieces and then watch the same material again when the full film resumes.
None of them seem crucial, but I all of them appear fairly interesting in the ways the round out the characters. (By the way, the scenes also appear in a separate area, so you’re not stuck with the “Enhanced Viewing Mode” if you want to see them.)
The extended/deleted scenes add commentary from Singer and Peck. These remarks come in the same spirit as those during the main track, and the pair continue to provide some fun information. Unfortunately, Singer doesn’t always tell us why the segments didn’t appear in the final cut, but his statements still seem interesting.
In addition to the deleted/extended scenes, the “Enhanced Viewing Mode” provides an interactive option. 17 times during the film, an X-Men insignia appears in the lower right corner of the screen. Hit “enter” on those occasions and you’ll see some raw behind the scenes footage. Excluding the extended/deleted scenes, these clips last a total of 51 minutes and 59 seconds.
Wow – that’s a lot of material! And most of it seems pretty good as well. Basically we see simple shots from the set that correspond to the point of the film at which they appear.
For example, the first clip – which shows up a couple of minutes into the movie – offers a look at some elements of the concentration camp sequence. Some of the more interesting snippets show different insults cast by Wolverine at Professor X, interactions between Bruce Davison and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos while they wait to shoot a scene, fight choreography, and behind the scenes of the Statue of Liberty battle. Overall, these pieces seem very fun and they add a lot to the package.
Our next extra is a very glossy and promotional TV special called The Mutant Watch. This 21-minute, 57-second infomercial uses a mildly clever framework to provide its advertising details: we see new footage of Bruce Davison as Senator Kelly, and the setting used Senate hearing to show the information.
We find a variety of movie clips, extremely rapid interview sound bites with cast and crew, and some decent but also very short behind the scenes bits. Easily the most interesting piece concerned the application of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos’s make-up, but that was just because I hoped to sneak a peek at some skin.
Overall, the program is a decent little promotional exercise but nothing else. Anyone who hopes to find solid information about the creation of the film will have to look elsewhere.
The next segment of the disc adds some of those details, but not a lot. An Interview With Director Bryan Singer actually provides excerpts from a longer segment featured on The Charlie Rose Show during the summer of 2000.
In these five snippets, Rose talks to Singer about “Why He Made X-Men”, “Bringing X-Men From Comic Book to the Big Screen”, “Directing Actors”, “Learning From Actors”, and “The Challenges of Making a Studio Film”. Each bit lasts between 25 seconds and 110 seconds for a total of six minutes, 17 seconds of material.
Overall, these are some decent clips that provide a little additional information and perspective about the project. They’re too brief to be genuinely helpful but they were fairly interesting.
Next we find two Animatics. This area provides short clips for “Liberty Head” (1:07) and “Train Station” (0:56). Both show rough computer animation designer to illustrate shot planning for those scenes. It’s a fun extra.
Inside the Art Gallery, we look at two categories. The presentation offers glimpses of “Character Design” (104 stills) and “Production Design” (65). All are good, but I especially like the character shots, as they show the considerations that went into the superhero outfits.
In addition to three TV Spots, the disc features a Music Promo. This clip simply tries to sell us the movie’s soundtrack. 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.
After 19 years, X-Men remains a lot of fun, as it launches the franchise on a lively and entertaining note. It doesn’t quite live up to the heights of something like Spider-Man, but it succeeds for the most part. The 4K UHD provides mostly positive picture, very good audio and adds a few bonus materials. This becomes a somewhat disappointing release.
To rate this film, visit the original review of X-MEN