X-Men Trilogy (Blu-ray)
The "good guys," led by Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), include the likes of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Dr. Jean Gray (Famke Janssen). They square off against the "bad guys," led by Magneto (Ian McKellen), who is joined by his shape-shifting sidekick Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) and many others.
Although this wasn't the first comic book adaptation to come along, it certainly changed the tone of the genre with excellent character developmentparticularly Wolverineand serious subject matterracism. While I enjoyed the first film a lot, the sequel, X2: X-Men United, is the best film of the three. It explores the depth of Wolverine's character, Magneto's return, and Xavier's desire to live peacefully with the non-mutant humans.
The concluding film, X-Men: The Last Stand, falls short of the first two with its overreaching story and heavy reliance on special effects. It's not bad, but it's no Return of the King and doesn't end the trilogy on a high note.
Each film boasts an impressive AVC 1080p encode, but there are slight differences between the three. The debut film is softest on longer shots and in CGI-intensive scenes, but not by a wide margin. Black levels are solid across the board with fantastic shadow detail and excellent depth. Colors are richly saturated, especially the luscious blue body paint on Mystiquewho looks amazing in HD!
Each film boasts a DTS-HD MA soundtrack, with 5.1 channels on the first two films and 6.1 on the finale. The sound design on the first film is very front-loaded, and the bass track is more tepid than the two sequels. At times, all three put the surround speakers to extraordinary use, especially when Xavier employs his mind-control abilities, but the third film is the most impressive with superior dynamics, particularly in the concluding battle on San Francisco Bay.
The nine-disc set includes a BD50 for each film, a bevy of supplements on a separate BD25, and a third disc containing a digital copy for iTunes and PCs. The bonus features include commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes on every facet of the productions, deleted scenes, the history of the comic books and characters, and on The Last Stand, BD-Live access to purchase a ticket for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which also unlocks a scene from the film.
Although each film is rated PG-13, I watched the trilogy with my preteen kids and had a blast. My 12-year-old daughter wasn't too keen to sit down for the first film, but by the end of the third, she was a fan. As for my 10-year-old son, it was like a dream come true for him and me! He'd been bugging me for a while to watch them on DVD, but I was holding out for the Blu-ray release, and it was definitely worth the wait. Highly recommended.
Release Date: April 21, 2009
X2: X-Men United
X-Men: The Last Stand
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector
Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics