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PHOTOGRAPHY

XXX- Unrated Director's Cut

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 132 minutes, 2 discs, director's commentary, featurettes, Filmmaker's Diary, Music Videos, Storybaord Comparisons, Multi-Angle Stunt Views, Starz! On The Set featurette, Exclusive Scene from XXX: State of the Union, Behind the Scenes Sneak Peak at the sequel, previews, and more.

STUDIO: Columbia/Revolution Studios

RELEASE DATE: 4-19-2005

ANALYSIS: XXX is an entertaining action movie which offers a new spin on the spy genre. Vin Diesel brought the personality to the character of Xander Cage while Asia Argento showed more intelligence and acting than many Bond Girls. Watching XXX is like getting an Adrenaline Rush and wanting to come back for more. In a series of Unfortunate Events, director Rob Cohen went on to direct STEALTH and Vin Diesel went on to act in THE CHRONCILES OF RIDDICK). They basically opted out a of a sequel and the producers decided to drop the elements that made the first movie unique. XXX has an anti-hero who is out of his depth as he if first forced (by Agent Gibbons (play masterfully by acting great Samuel L. Jackson))into finding out information on some ex-Russian military officers. He finds out something isn't right and it is up to him to save the day.  The extreme sports angle is a different way of going about doing a spy thriller.  Yorgi is a villain you first like and then want to hate after you see what type of Eurotrash he really is.

Will the XXX sequel be any good? Should it drop the name of XXX instead of being an obvious ploy to suck the fans of the first movie into the sequel? Fans of XXX might buy the XXX Director's Cut DVD, but some fans of Vin have said they will not see the sequel since Vin isn't in it). The only thing we can do is enjoy the movie Vin and Rob Cohen made, and daydream of what the sequel could have been like if Xander Cage was in it. The Director's Cut does add eight minutes back into the movie. It makes the movie a little better (I like the airplane scene which was a deleted scene on the first XXX DVD). The DVD release of the xXx Director's Cut is two discs loaded with many well put together extras that will please the fans (except for one of them on disc two and the XXX: STATE OF THE UNION material on disc one).

VIDEO/AUDIO: XXX- Unrated Director's Cut is presented in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The colors are soft. It has a movie theater look on DVD. Image detail is great.  Grain is visible at times (sometimes in the scenes where lighting is minimal).

You can hear the Director's Cut in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DD, or Spanish 5.1 DD with the option of English, French, or Spanish subtitles. The director's commentary is English 2.0 Dolby Surround while the other extras (excluding previews and The Final Chapter scene) are in English 2.0. Dialogue is clear, but it just seem a little quiet compared to the sound effects and music. The score seems to have new music cues not in the theatrical cut.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Disc ONE- The director's commentary for the movie sounds like it was imported from the theatrical cut since Rob Cohen goes silent whenever a deleted scene shows up in the DC. He does impart some production details, but he mostly like to talk about what's happening on screen. The exclusive scene for XXX: STATE OF THE UNION isn't very exciting, but Ice Cube rubs salt into the wound when he says he should have been in the first XXX instead of Vin in the exclusive Behind-The-Scenes look at the sequel. Previews on disc one are for XXX: STATE OF THE UNION, D.E.B.S, and FULL THROTTLE (sadly, no trailer for XXX). Also included on disc one is STARZ! ON THE SET: THE MAKING OF XXX which originally aired on Starz! and Multi-Angle Stunt Views (from nine cameras) for The Exploding Barn Jump and the Bridge Jump.

Disc TWO- The best extra on disc two is the two part Filmmaker's Diary which is in a way a documentary on the production and post-production of the movie (with Part One focusing on USA/Pre-Production and Part 2 on Prague/Post-Production). I wish the Storyboard Comparisons (Avalanche and Drug Farm) were Multi-Angled. Two music videos (Hatebreed's "I Will Be Heard" and Gavin Rossdale's "Adrenaline") and the Raw Uncut End Credit Sequence are also included on disc two. Also included are Visual Effects How To featurettes (with optional commentary from a digital effects supervisor from Digital Domain) for three digital effects sequences (Creating The Mountain Avalanche, Creating An Avalanche, and Shack Explosion) showing the various elements that went into them (from original backgrounds to various effect elements to the final shot).

Four featurettes are on the disc highlighting various aspects of XXX:

BUILDING SPEED THE VEHICLES OF XXX focuses on the Ahab and GTO seen in the movie.

DESIGING THE WORLD OF XXX talks about the locations used for the movie and how they designed each set (or dressed each location). They also talk about the weapons used in XXX and weapons that were designed for it (and Vin Diesel to use). Rob wanted the weapons and gadgets to be realistic. XXX had many challenges including two art departments in two different locations.

DIESEL POWERED is a featurette where people rave over Vin and Vin Diesel (and the crew) talking about the character of Xander Cage (and why Vin was the one to play XXX). Behind-The-Scenes footage of Vin doing weapons training. Vin wanted to do every stunt (some more than he was able to do).

AGENT SHAVERS' GADGET PRESENTATION has the actor playing Shavers trying to be funny while showing off the gadgets from the movie.

That brings me to the little four minute clip called THE FINAL CHAPTER; THE DEATH OF XANDER CAGE (which is in 5.1 Dolby Digital) that will make some Vin Diesel fans hate the producers of the sequel. It is a bridging scene between the first movie and the sequel. Khristian Lupo stands in as Xander Cage (you never see his face) and Leila Arcieri is some bimbo named Jordan King. I wish the ending of the scene was more unresolved (in case they convince Vin to do another XXX movie in the future, but Hollywood will always find a way if they want to bring Xander Cage back). Maybe since Vin (and director Rob Cohen) decided not to do the sequel, Sony felt it wise to include a free movie ticket to XXX: STATE OF THE UNION with the DVD. They know it will be a very hard sell for people who watched XXX because it had the power of Vin Diesel in it.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Despite a few little things in terms of extras that will irritate some fans of XXX, Sony hads done a good job with this DVD. The cover art is excellent (menus are bland). Shame they didn't include the XXX theatrical trailer. The Director's Cut is an improved version of a movie that I already love. If you want to see the DC and savor the extras, this DVD is for you.

this DVD Review is (c)4-11-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia