Tags: Álex González, BD-Live, Bryan Singer, Caleb Landry Jones, D-BOX, Digital Copy, Edi Gathegi, FOX, James McAvoy, January Jones, Jason Flemyng, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Live Lookup, Lucas Till, Marvel Comics, Matthew Vaughn, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt, Pocket Blu, Rose Byrne, X-Men, Zoë Kravitz
has an average rating of 7.9 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are over 2 hours long & ALL in Hi-Def!
– 132 minutes
This uses 44.1GB total.
Overall Verdict – A Solid Recommendation
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is based on the team of superheroes (of the same name) who first appeared in Marvel Comics back in 1963. “The X-Men” were originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The story to this film is SLIGHTLY based on a comic series of the same title that first premiered back in 2006. This film like that comic series IS a prequel however this story mainly focuses on the relationship between a younger “Charles Xavier” (“Professor X“) and “Erik Lehnsherr” (“Magneto“). This also shows the first group of mutants of what will eventually become “The X-Men” — hence the use of the subtitle. The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn best known for directing the 2010 film “Kick-Ass” as well as “Stardust” from 2007. Also worth noting, the original director of the first two live-action “X-Men” films, Bryan Singer returned to serve as a producer and co-wrote the story as well.
As mentioned above this film’s story focuses on the younger “Charles Xavier” (played by James McAvoy) who is in the process of learning to help others harness their mutant abilities. The first mutant that Charles meets is a younger girl in his kitchen one night by the name of “Raven” (later played by Jennifer Lawrence). When Raven turns to her true self (“Mystique“) she becomes blue with reddish hair and is able to mimic the form of any other human being. Charles’ ability consists of mind control and the ability to read minds. They eventually meet up with a man around Charles’ age who escaped from a Nazi concentration camp at an early age as we’ve seen in the back story in the previous “X-Men” films as well as in this film. The man grows up to become the arch-nemesis of Charles but for now is one of his closest friends and helps him start what will eventually become the “School for the Gifted” and “The X-Men” group. This man is “Erik Lehnsherr” (played by Michael Fassbender).
Meanwhile a man by the name of “Sebastian Shaw” (played by Kevin Bacon) who has a powerful mutant ability has decided to use his “gift” for evil. Along with with other mutants like “Emma Frost” (played by January Jones), “Azazel” (played by Jason Flemyng) and “Riptide” (played by Álex González) Shaw plans to cause World War III. The way he plans to cause the third world war involves the real-life Cuban missile crisis which evoked conflicts of a nuclear possibility from both the sides of the United States and Russia. It’s up to our heroes (Charles & Erik) along with their new recruits to stop this from happening in what is their first mission — along with some help from a CIA agent “Moira MacTaggert” (played by Rose Byrne).
The “first class” or group of mutants recruited by Charles & Erik consist of “Angel Salvadore” (played by Zoë Kravitz), “Alex Summers” (played by Lucas Till), “Armando Muñoz” (played by Edi Gathegi), “Sean Cassidy” (played by Caleb Landry Jones) and last but not least “Hank McCoy” (played by Nicholas Hoult). As most X-Men fans know, Hank is “The Beast” and you’ll actually get to see him take the form for the very first time here in the film.
“X-Men: First Class” proves to be one really enjoyable, action-packed and somewhat emotional prequel. It ended up doing extremely well in its theatrical run, earning nearly $350 million worldwide. The combination of Matthew Vaughn directing and Bryan Singer producing (also co-writing the original story) really worked out well. There’s a few cameos here that I won’t give away as they are in my opinion “spoilers” to reveal. I’ll just tell you to be on the lookout for cameos. Speaking of which, no cameo here by co-creator Stan Lee so don’t bother looking.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications listing for the aspect ratio this was shot on 35MM film using the Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL camera. However, while watching the bonus materials you’ll learn that some of the scenes where “Charles Xavier” is using mind control were actually shot on a professional digital still camera and those shots were blended in post-production frame-by-frame together to give this cool animated visual illusion of choppy movement. I just felt I’d mention that so that the “fanboys” or videophiles don’t flame me for forgetting to mention something of that actual importance. Speaking of the bonus material and things you’ll learn about how this was shot, there’s another featurette that shows the film being packed up into canisters and then the HD dailies guy editing the 35MM source and in turn saving it to digital (HDCAM) footage. Just because this was transferred from 35MM to HD DOES NOT mean the film was shot in Hi-Def, instead that it was TURNED to Hi-Def.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Be prepared to do some viewing of screenshots here as I plan to use them for examples a bit more than usual this time around. Speaking of which you’ll notice we’ve finally decided to add “watermarks” to our fullsize UNCOMPRESSED screenshots. Expect watermarks like these in all our future reviews. Now, with all of that out of the way let me continue on to actually assessing the Hi-Def presentation found here on the Blu-ray Disc release of the film.
The black level here is solid throughout and helps to emphasize detail, even in the darker (dim lit) shots. The amount of detail here at times, especially in some close-ups is downright impressive. Let me use a screenshot for an example here and two stages of the scene with it eventually coming to an extreme close-up on Michael Fassbender‘s eyes — HERE & HERE are the screenshots I’m referring to. A great amount of detail, no? Moving on, the color palette is pretty bold at times — namely the last half of the film — but for the first half of the film seems a tad bit subdued, although does have some occasions of kinda bright, almost bold colors such as “Raven” (the young “Mystique“) as seen HERE in a screenshot under dim lighting conditions. Once things brighten up later in the film you’ll see some more vibrant shots in terms of color like THIS (via screenshot) of “Beast” suited up and ready for action. The CG effects here come across somewhat believable (to a degree) but are maybe not totally perfect as you will see with these two shots of January Jones as “Emma Frost” in her true form seen HERE & HERE — clearly CG and also a bit “iffy” in terms of blend with live-action.
There’s a good amount of film grain present here from the original 35MM source (even after transfer to digital) although you’ll notice that not all the footage seems to have the same amount of film grain or in turn digital noise. In fact, it doesn’t really quite match up in terms of visual continuity either, as you’ll notice some shots appear a bit distorted at the sides or even sometimes top or bottom because of what I believe to be use of a spherical camera lense and the focus of the actual camera itself. What I’m referring to can be seen HERE. Notice how the faces of the cast members seem incredibly “soft” or almost out of focus? This can be a tiny bit bothersome at times and is quite honestly one reason this doesn’t earn a 100% perfect video quality rating. I know this was perhaps only the artistic intention of DP (director of photography) John Mathieson but it just doesn’t translate 100% perfect visually to Hi-Def. Still having said that, this offers one impressive Hi-Def visual experience, one with very minimal if any DNR (digital noise reduction), worthy of a “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. I’m going to be honest here, just coming off reviewing yet another Marvel Comics superhero film (“Thor“) which was actually in 7.1, I was a bit skeptical I would be as amazed with this film’s audio mix as I was with that previous title. My expectations were high. Having said that, let me say I was wrong to be skeptical as this left me just as impressed as the previous title. My expectations were met by this 5.1 lossless mix. This makes excellent use of first off the rear channels left and right to do pans and such as well as the LFE via the subwoofer to leave the room thumping and/or rattling from the sheer amount of bass. The primary source for the LFE (bass) here seems to be the sound effects which come across very realistic as well as the film’s original Score (music) by Henry Jackman. Jackman’s Score gets a great use of the 5.1 soundscape here with nice rear channel presence and lead from the front left and right channel speakers. Dialogue here is very distinctly through primarily the front center channel. By distinct, I mean that I found it to never once be “drowned out” by any of the intense amount of action this film contains. The only reason I resorted to making any volume adjustments at times here was in my first viewing of the film late at night. Yes, it’s that intense at times, especially near the end with the big climax — and there’s no spoiler there with that statement, as that should be expected. This mix just really proves as I said to be amazing and well worthy of a perfect “5 Star Rating” overall for audio quality.
Bonus Materials are ALL presented in full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps sound — unless noted otherwise below. First though, let me treat you to a sample video clip of one of the behind-the-scenes featurettes via YouTube, thanks to the folks at MARVEL.
- BD-Live is include on this FOX Blu-ray Disc release. This includes some EXCLUSIVE behind-the-scenes featurettes you can access online via the “Cerebro Mutant Tracker” profiles. There’s two other features included here that use BD-Live. First you have “LIVE Lookup” which gives you real-time updated facts as you watch the film — powered by IMDb. Also you have the feature called “pocket BLU” which allows users on iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and Android portable devices or smartphones to access online content as well as use the device as a remote. As always, BD-Live requires the user to be on a “Profile 1.1” capable Blu-ray Disc Player with Internet connectivity. The “pocket BLU” application actually also requires that you have a wireless (Wi-Fi) network to verify your disc and/or use it as a remote control.
- “X Marks the Spot” is either your choice of a stand-alone featurette or a feature that plays alongside the film itself. Either way it features DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound. This includes behind-the-scenes videos and interviews with the filmmakers. These videos which total up to nineteen minutes and fifty-five seconds in runtime are individually listed below:
- – “Erik in Auschwitz” (1:57 – HD)
- – “Charles Meets Raven” (1:56 – HD)
- – “Mr. Howlett Declines” (1:55 – HD)
- – “Mindscape” (1:49 – HD)
- – “Emulisional Journey” (4:13 – HD)
- – “Rebecca’s Return” (1:44 – HD)
- – “Cuban Beach Pre-Viz Sequence” (3:07 – HD) is split-screen with final film footage.
- – “Retro Cool” (2:51 – HD) shows us how the film’s trippy title sequence came to be.
- – “Second Genesis” (10:01 – HD)
- – “Band of Brothers” (11:51 – HD)
- – “Transformation” (10:06 – HD)
- – “Suiting Up” (8:33 – HD)
- – “New Frontier: A Dose of Style” (9:55 – HD)
- – “Pulling Off the Impossible” (10:23 – HD)
- – “Sound and Fury” (6:29 – HD)
- – “Erik in Argentinean Airport” (0:54 – HD)
- – “Shaw with Cuban Generals” (0:28 – HD)
- – “Charles and Moira’s Tryst, Part 1″ (1:23 – HD)
- – “Charles and Erik Recruit Angel (Extended)” (1:15 – HD)
- – “The Russian Truck (Extended)” (1:14 – HD)
- – “Erik vs. Russian Guards (Extended)” (0:21 – HD)
- – “Shaw’s Plan (Extended)” (0:49 – HD)
- – “Havok Training, Part 1 (Extended)” (2:08 – HD)
- – “Banshee Training, Part 1 (Extended)” (1:35 – HD)
- – “Havok Training, Part 2 (Extended)” (1:09 – HD)
- – “Banshee Training, Part 2 (Extended)” (1:14 – HD)
- – “Hawk and Raven in the Lab (Extended)” (0:51 – HD)
- – “Charles and Moira’s Tryst, Part 2″ (0:31 – HD)
Overall the bonus materials here are solid. You get the interactive “Cerebro Mutant Tracker” as well as “X-Marks the Spot” which can also be interactive or play stand-alone. The amount of featurette-style bonus materials here totals up to almost 2 hours itself, plus with the others included like “mutant profiles” factored in it IS over 2 hours in runtime — as the sticker on the front claims. There’s also the Digital Copy of the film, the BD-Live extras, D-BOX motion code and the 10 FREE Digitals Comics offer. A nice set of supplemental material that will leave fans pleased.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.