Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Running Time: 2:13
as Professor Charles Xavier
Three years after the original X-Men, the crew returns for a high-powered sequel in X2. Annoying tag line (X-Men United) aside, the second installment of the superhero saga packs more punch than the first and makes for a fun ride.
This time around General William Stryker is after the mutants. He has a special serum that allows him to control mutants, and he uses it on the still imprisoned Magneto to tell him exactly where Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Children is located. The good General wants to create an exact copy of Cerebro in order to use Professor X's ability to locate all the mutants in the world. As it turns out, if the Professor concentrates hard enough on a person (or group of people), he can kill them. General Stryker's son is a mutant and he blames the Professor for not being able to 'cure' him, and he's going to use his son's powerful abilities to destroy the mutant population. Good and evil mutants must join together to save their kind, but it doesn't last for long. And in the end, one of them will not survive.
Besides The Matrix sequels due out this summer (and fall), no other movie has had as much hype as X2, and the movie lives up to advance billing. Since we already met most of the mutants in the original, the sequel didn't need to spend a lot of time meeting the characters. Mutants like Iceman and Pyro were introduced in the original and had their roles expanded here in part two. Some mutants like Deathstrike and Nightcrawler were brought in and immediately added to the fold. And most of the characters from the first returned for the second. Mystique's role was a lot larger than in the first, as was Dr. Jean Grey's while Cyclops and Rogue had smaller parts this time around. When you start adding characters without taking out a lot of older ones, it'll make for a crowded field, but the writers and director did a good job of making sure everyone that was there got their screen time. There was a lot more use of the mutants powers this time out, which was one of the problems with the first film. That one introduced us to the characters and their abilities, but didn't showcase them as much as they could have. In X2, everyone came to fight, and fight they did.
The opening sequence with Nightcrawler was an amazing way to start the film. I think he has become my favorite mutant not only with his abilities but with his take on life as a mutant. The 5 second scene with him saving Rogue was easily the coolest 5 seconds I've seen on screen. His character showed how far special effects have come in filmmaking. I don't think I've ever seen a movie where the special effects were so seamless. From his transportation abilities to Mystiques shape-shifting between 4 or 5 characters in the span of a few seconds, everything looked and felt as though it was actually happening. One of the loudest pops the movie got was for a small character who could walk through walls, and her part was only 30 seconds long. The audience was completely taking in by everything that was happening, and having special effects that made everything flow smoothly was a big factor in that.
The plot wasn't the best, but I think having more action this time around made up for it. Broken down, the plot line was simply one of revenge because a father didn't accept his son's abilities. Simple, yet effective for it's purpose of showcasing the mutants various abilities. Wolverine's storyline that carried over from the original, him finding out about where he came from, was continued and still not fully explained. More bits and pieces were added to the fold, but still no final explanation, which of course means there will definitely be an X3, hopefully with a better tag line. No offense, but X-Men United doesn't cut it for me. Other stories were continued or added, such as the love triangle with Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine, as well as seeing Iceman's relationship with his family, and his ongoing love affair with Rogue. And then of course there was the one mutant who goes over to the dark side, and the one mutant who doesn't make it out alive. I'm not so sure that last one was necessary, but the ending made it seem it was possible they didn't die, and will return in one form or another. There were times however where the movie did slow down, which normally isn't bad, but when you have a movie with so much amazing action, any time it slows down, it feels like its crawling. In a normal movie it might feel like it flowed right along, but when you're going 100mph and you slow to 25mph, it hits you harder than if you're cruising along at 50mph the entire time.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I would definitely see X2. If you were a fan of the original, you'll love the sequel. If you never saw the original, go out and see it for a good primer on who these people are, then go out and see the second one. It's a popcorn flick at its best.
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