Wednesday, May 11, 2016

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

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Movie"X2: X-Men United"
Director: Bryan Singer
Year: 2003
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

As the debate over mutant rights continues, Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox) has found a way to swing it into his anti-mutant favor. He has found a way to control people with a special serum. Stryker uses this serum to have a mutant named Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) attack the president in order to spread fear amongst the masses. Now, the X-Men must find a way to stop Stryker's plan while they defend a full-on assault from his personal army.

After the success of "X-Men," which paved the way for the modern comic book films we know and love them, director Bryan Singer reached new heights with "X2: X-Men United." This film was another box office smash for the franchise. It was well received by critics and audiences, and is widely considered to be an improvement on the first installment, praise which most sequels do not achieve. We would have to agree with this sentiment.

At the forefront of this sequel is Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, who far and away became the star of the X-Men franchise. We're definitely not complaining. We start to learn a little more about Logan's past and who he once was before he joined up with Professor X at his school for gifted children. Jackman is and always will be the perfect choice for Wolverine, the snarky, smoking, brash brute of a mutant with a penchant for ass kicking and sarcasm. There are also set ups for the next film in the series as we watch Jean Grey, again played by Famke Janssen, develop her powers as they begin to grow more powerful. Beyond these two characters, all of the old favorites are here, too, such as Cyclops played by James Marsden; Storm played by Halle Barry; Rogue played by Anna Paquin; Professor X played Patrick Stewart; Magneto played Ian McKellen; and Mystique played by Rebecca Romijn. We don't really like the direction these films went with Rogue as a character as she gets turned into a whining, sniveling mess about a boy. Beyond this, most of these portrayals and characters are just as solid as they were the first time around, if not a bit more so. There are also a couple of introductions to new characters like Nightcrawler, played expertly by Alan Cumming. Nightcrawler has a bad ass opening fight sequence against a series of White House guards, and this scene remains one of our favorites from the X-Men franchise. Cumming puts on a wonderful show as the teleporting blue mutant. A couple of characters get expanded roles here, like Iceman/Bobby Drake, the aforementioned boy Rogue has it bad for, played by Shawn Ashmore, and his archenemy Pyro/John Allerdyce, played by Aaron Stanford. Of course, there are a plethora of other mutants filling out the background scenes in bit roles, and most of these characters are included simply to please fans of the comic books.

"X2: X-Men United" pulls off the impossible by making a sequel that's every bit as good as its original. It has some great action sequences, some great special effects (again, considering it was 2003, they don't look half bad today), some wonderful characters, and a compelling story that keeps us invested in those characters. The new addition of Alan Cumming really elevates the performance standards for the franchise. Stewart and McKellen/Professor X and Magneto have never been better as they are pitted against one another time and time again, and we still think this is one of the best on screen duos ever cast. There are some intense and emotional scenes as well, proving that not all comic book adaptations have to be mindless fodder full of clunky narratives and 10,000 explosions. We really enjoy this film, despite a few problems in its script/dialogue writing. 

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
To see our review of "X-Men," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men: The Last Stand," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men: First Class," click here.

To see our review of "The Wolverine," click here.

To see our review of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," click here.

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