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In present day America, extraordinary genetic mutations are occurring in random people. It's the next link in the chain of human evolution, where unique and superior beings are dubbed "mutants" by a society rife with prejudice and bigotry. The world's most powerful telepath, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), runs a mutant safe haven where he teaches such prodigies as Jean-Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), Rogue (Anna Paquin) and new recruit Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) how to harness their powers for good. Meanwhile, X's nemesis Magneto (Ian McKellen) believes co-existence with humans is futile, and launches a devious plan to transform humankind into mutantkind. The X-Men must fight to save the society that rejects them.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
They're not kidding when they call this The Ultimate Edition. It sure is. It's essentially a special features DVD focusing on the making of the first film and on X-Men folklore, and although it delivers a virtual how-to of blockbuster movie making, its only downfall is a lack of insight on the coming sequel (out April 30, 2003).

Still, this 2-disc set has impressive packaging, DTS sound, and extras to rival the Rings, Potter and Star Wars DVDs. And although director Bryan Singer admits he doesn't believe in multiple DVD editions of the same movie - even apologising for X-Men 1.5 - a thorough look through this detailed documentary-like package reveals it to be unlike anything on the market.

Of the five viewing modes of the film on Disc 1 (and yes, that means watching the film five times), I found the Screen Specific Commentary with Bryan Singer and Brian Peck the most informative, with Peck quizzing Singer on various aspects of the film. Icons simply pop up on screen and lead to commentaries, extended scenes or behind-the-scenes features. If you think that's going overboard, pop in Disc 2, which contains the majority of extras. Use the remote control on the Evolution X title screen to access three parts. In The Uncanny Suspects, the stars reveal their secrets, like how few read comics, and how Patrick Stewart admits he's not a sci-fi fan (this coming from the captain of the Enterprise)! In X-Factor: The Look of X-Men, the stars try on their spray-on leather outfits and aren't even able to scale a low wall. Then there's the Production Scrapbook, a 65 minute featurette which may have you nodding off like the guy in the X-Men Production Meeting.

If that isn't enough, there's The Special Effects of X-Men, which discusses the transition from comic book to screen; The Marketing of X-Men, which includes trailers and TV spots; Internet Interstitials, which support the information on the discs; Reflection on The X-Men, in which the stars comment on the film's success; and two more minor featurettes. From here the package moves onto X-Men 2. There's a Sneak Preview, the Theatrical Trailer, the Activision Trailer (for the game Wolverine's Revenge) and a Daredevil Teaser. This lack of X-2 features is not nearly enough to juice viewers up for the sequel. Then again, devotees who get this far into the DVD probably don't need juicing. X-Men 1.5 is one of the most overloaded DVD packages on the market. Hard-core X-ers will love it, and although some might think it information overload, the RRP of about $25 makes this, indeed, the ultimate insiders guide to the making of a cult hit.

Published April 17, 2003

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CAST: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Tyler Mane, Ray Park, Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, Bruce Davison.

DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

PRESENTATION: DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 16:9 Enhanced

SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature Viewing Mode 1 - Theatrical version; Feature Viewing Mode 2 - Theatrical version with Director's Audio Commentary. (Bryan Singer); Feature Viewing Mode 3 - Enhanced Viewing Mode with 6 Extended Scenes; Feature Viewing Mode 4 - Enhanced Viewing Mode with 6 Extended Scenes (as above) & Commentary; Feature Viewing Mode 5 - Enhanced Viewing Mode with Extended Scenes (as above) & 17 Behind The Scenes Footage; Bringing The X-Men To Life Featurette; Hugh Jackman 1st Reading & Screen Test; Character Still Gallery; Producing The X-Men - Becoming Part Of The Crew: Featurette; 2 Multi Angle Sequences; Reflections Of The X-Men; X-Men 2 - Sneak Peak Look At X-Men 2 & X-Men 2 Trailer; Special Effects Of The X-Men: Featurette; Sean Kelly Effects Breakdown; 4 Multi Angle Segments; Trailers - Daredevil & Activision's: "Wolverine's Revenge"; X-Factor - The Look Of The X-Men Featurette with Cyclops, Storm and Toad Costume and Makeup Tests; 4 Image Galleries.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: April 9, 2003

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