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X2: X-Men United (2003)- Movie Review

X2: X-Men United Poster

Written by: Michael Dougherty & Daniel P. Harris, based on a story by David Hayter, Zak Penn & Bryan Singer, which was in turn based on the comic book originally created by Stan Lee
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, Brian Cox

My Advice: Matinee.

Picking up a short time after the first film left off, we find Wolverine (Jackman) trying to figure out his past. We also find a certain fuzzy blue teleporter (Alan Cumming) trying to off the President (Cotter Smith). Freaked–well, wouldn’t you be?–the POTUS authorizes William Stryker (Cox) to put certain plans to action to eliminate the mutant threat. And what he sets in motion will be so bad, it will involve a bold raid on the Xavier School, and force Magneto (McKellen) and his crony, Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), to join forces with the X-Men.

[ad#longpost]Well, the first movie wound up not sucking by sheer luck alone. But the sequel seems to have been made by people who know what in the hell they’re doing. This is a welcome change after the mediocrity of Spider-Man and the outright garbage of Daredevil. The characters are all well-defined and make sense within the context of their established movie continuity. The actors who return are all in fine form, especially Jackman, who finally gets to cut loose. However, the bits that really impressed me were the new characters. Cox is so amazingly evil, it’s just downright impressive. Cumming plays Nightcrawler perfectly–and hey, they got the teleportation right, rock on. Even the “kids”: Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Aaron Stanford (Pyro) and Anna Paquin (Rogue) were all impressive and had some sizable roles–even more so than some of the elder actors, as some audience members might bitch. Even Daniel Cudmore’s cameo as Colossus was good. No real weak points throughout the cast–they picked well. Now let’s just see if we can keep them for the third film.

The story is a vast improvement over the first outing, in that you’ve gone from a plot device that didn’t quite seem in keeping with the characters–but you could maybe forgive it–to something that makes a lot of sense, and actually happens in the comic quite a bit. And wonderfully enough, things actually happen in the film, as opposed to last time, when a whole lot of setup had to take place, both situational and for the sake of characters. Huge points to Singer and company for being able to juggle this many characters, for Christ’s sake. While as I said above, fans of particular characters might feel slighted, they were used according to how they made sense for the story–and everybody got to do something. So overall, it evens out.

Another note: all the little references to other comic bits–other characters and whatnot–were there if you got them and didn’t get in the way if you didn’t. So they get points for that too.

See it on the big screen–because it really is worth it. And, considering what else is coming down the pike (gamma-irradiated dogs, anyone?), it’s probably going to be the last good comic book movie for a while.

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