DVD review- X2: X-MEN UNITED
by David Blackwell
X2 improves on the first movie, and it is a more complex and layered movie than the first one. X2: X-MEN UNITED is
one of the few sequels that improve on the first movie. There are 11 deleted and extended scenes. Most of them have extra
bits cut from scenes while one scene gives away a couple of plot points too soon and the last two deleted scenes should have
been left in the movie. The deleted scene with Jubilee in the museum wasn't too bad.
X2: X-MEN UNITED starts with Nighcrwaler attacking the President of the United States and leaving a message behind (Mutant
Freedom Now!). Stryker urges the President to attack the Xaiver Mansion. Meanwhile, Professor X has Jean grey and Storm look
for Nightcrawler before he and Cyclops go visit Magneto (who is still in his plastic prison). Mystique (disguised as a US
senator) plots to break Magneto out when she hears Stryker's plans. Wolveringe/Logan returns to the mansion (after an empty
trip to a remote lake to find answers about his past) and helps most of the mutants escape when Stryker's men come to the
So the movie does move a very well paced speed with details you will pay attention to more on a second viewing. There are
many characters who get developed in this movie to the point that you even know a little about a character that only shows
up ina scene or two in the movie. Some details you may notice on a first viewing if you're a fan of the comic books (or read
some of the issues), but maybe this will convince people who have only see the movies to go check the wide trapestry of storylines
in the X-MEN comic books. Now where is the third X-MEN movie?!
There are a few featurettes on the second disc: Pre- Production, Production, Post-Production, Secret Origins of the X-Men,
and one on Nightcrawler. There are two commentary tracks on the DVD, but sometimes there are gaps of silence between
moments of what the people involved have to say about the movie. The Secret Origins of the X-Men is a fifteen
minute history of the comic book to thej movie series, and is my favorite feature on disc two besides the deleted scenes and
the three trailers for X-MEN 2. The Public Service Announcement (unrelated to X2) feels out of place on this disc (why couldn't
we have some trailers for other movies instead or a trailer previewing the X-MEN 1.5 DVD release). The DVD does have me wondering
when will they put out a special edition release of X2: X-MEN UNITED like they did with X-MEN when they released the X-MEN
DVD review- THE DANCER UPSTAIRS
by David Blackwell
THE DANCER UPSTAIRS is a really good political crime drama directed by John Malkovich (who knew he could direct a movie
so good) and starring Javier Bardem. The movie is about the investigation of a terrorist named Ezequiel that the police is
trying to find. People have hung dead gogs stucked with dynamite in their throats and a sign hanging around the neck ending
the mssage with "Long Live, President Ezequiel!", used a 10 year-old boy as a suicide bomber, used women dressed as school
girls to kil government officials, tie dynamite to the legs of dogs and roosters, and even pose as theater performers. Lt.
Rejas (Bardem) tries to find out who Ezequiel is and stop him, but his investigation is made more difficult when the government
declares martial law and the military get in the way of the investigation. Even worse, Rejas finds himself attracted to his
daughter's beautiful ballet teacher.
THE DANCER UPSTAIRS is a top-notch drama taking place in a fictional Latin America country that could really exist. John
Malkovich deftly directs this drama and the cinematography is great. you have good acting all around and the story tells the
story it needs to tell by focusing on many things that are happening, but it doesn't forget Lt. rejas is teh main character
of the movie that you have to sympathize with as he tries to find Ezequiel and feel tempted by his daughter's ballet teacher.
There is a Sundance Channel special on the movie, the theaterical trailer, and an audio commentary by John Malkovich and
Javier Bardem. For the most part, the DVD transfer is great except for some pixelization in a couple of spots during the last
30 minutes of teh movie (could be that the DVD has faults due to scratching since this is a rental or fault in DVD mastering)
and the audio mix is just right.
DVD short reviews by David Blackwell:
CITY OF GHOSTS- This movie ultimately comes off as schizophrenic and have many undeveloped characters. Matt Dillon plays
a guy who goes to Cambodia to track down Marvin (James Caan) because he doesn't like the heat he is taking from the latest
scam- $10 million from a fake insurance trust. The movie is directed (and co-written) by Matt Dillon and also stars James
Caan, Gerrad Depardieu, Stellan Skarsgard, and Natasha McElhone. The dream sequences are well-designed, but sometimes the
directing leaves much to be desired. I was disappointed with part of the ending because I expected one part of it to be different
while one part was spot on as I predicted.
HULK- HULK is a movie that just went on and on for too long. To boot, the script sucked
and most of the acting was bad. Interesting deleted scenes though (about six minutes worth) which included Betty at a meeting
about the project she and bruce are working on, military men taking Betty's home computer, and Bruce calling Betty from the
hospital to talk about the dream she had. HULK is a movie director Ang Lee should have never done without a good script, and
it makes me wish we could have seen writer Jonathan Hensleigh's version instead (he was once attached to write and direct
the movie). Jonathan Hensleigh is the husband of producer Gale Ann Hurd (producer of HULK among other movies including ALIENS,
TERMINATOR, TERMINATOR 2, and the upcoming version of THE PUNISHER directed by her husband).
Coming soon: DVD reviews of NO GOOD DEED and FORMULA 51.
these reviews are (c) 2003 David Blackwell. Reprinting any review is forbiddden without permission from me. send all comments
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