While director Bryan Singer's original X-Men unquestionably had some problems — convoluted human versus mutant plot that wasn't flushed out enough, too many interesting characters to work with and not enough time to use them all, some questionably effects, the agonising debate over who is Keyser Soze? Wait, wrong Singer movie — it was still a strong offering in the realm of superhero cinema. And it boasted some heavy, heavy actors (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen), not to mention making some major bank, thus guaranteeing the sequel and franchise. With X2, or X-Men 2, or X-Men United, or whatever the hell it's actually called as long as there's an X in there somewhere, Singer addresses some of the problems of the original while retaining all his star actors from the first and hyping up the action.
X2 picks up shortly after X-Men ends off, with a hyperkinetic opening that ranks up there as one of the coolest ever, with Nightcrawler (a blue, tailed mutant with the ability to teleport) infiltrating the White House and attempting to assassinate the president; watching Nightcrawler dispatch countless security agents as he teleports into kicks, punches and throws while quickly disappearing again is beyond cool. Of course, this only fans the flames of unrest between mutants (super-powered genetic freaks) and humans (non-super-powered boys and girls), which plays right into the newly introduced big bad's hands, William Stryer (a military scientist played by the original Manhunter Hannibal, Brian Cox), who uses it to advance his plans of a mutant-free world.
But don't fret, you evil mutant loving-types, Magneto (McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) are both back, although without the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and although the main antagonist is human, there are still more mutants than you can shake a stick at. All of the original X-Men return, with the main subplot focusing on Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) search for his past and the love triangle between him, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Cyclops (James Marsden), and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) gets a bigger role from the first, as does Storm (Halle Berry getting mad respect for that Oscar win), not to mention the introduction of Pyro, Lady Deathstrike, Colossus, etc.
But as Styrker captures Professor Xavier, invades the X-Men's home/mansion/training facility, and plots to destroy mutant-kind as the remaining X-men team up with old enemies to stop him, the movie does become burdened under the weight of its twists and turns, and drags at certain points. However, the action sequences more than make up for it, especially the tornado scene, where Storm summons a number of twisters to escape fighter jets that are pursuing them, the aforementioned opening, Jean Grey's holding back of a torrent of water after a damn bursts and virtually anything involving Wolverine and his claws.
Again, the main criticism of X2 isn't a bad one to have, but it remains: the world of the X-Men simply has too many excellent characters in it to do them all proper justice in a two-hour movie. And while Singer addresses the political/social issues of mutants in a human world, and gives a more realistic, human edge to many of them, a number of the characters can't help but get left behind and the social/political side becomes glossed over. However, as a continuation of the X-Men universe, X2 is a stronger movie with an excellent ending that sets up the third movie, which any fan of the comic should instantly recognise. (Fox)
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