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X2: X-Men United (2003)

PG-13 134 minutes

Directed by Bryan Singer
Written by Michael Dougherty, Daniel Harris, David Hayter

Starring
 · Hugh Jackman
 · Patrick Stewart
 · Ian McKellan


Review by Philter

First things first... The line reads, "Sequels, by definition, are inferior films." Get it right, Thom.

And here's another line: "It's bullshit generalization; many sequels have surpassed their original."
"Oh yeah, name one..."

X-MEN 2

Just to let you guys know I guess I have some spoilers in mine, but I wasn't going to make my review as dull as Thom's, and Dante's, if you like a movie I feel in a review it is only appropriate to elaborate on why it rocked. So read if you dare.

 

Smarts

 
 85%

I left the theatre in such awe that it took me three days to sort my mind to manage a full review. I actually wrote one Thursday, but even then I was too overwhelmed for it to make much sense. So let's try this again, shall we?

Thom says that the plot device behind Stryker's undying desire to kill all the world's mutants is "cliche", but he didn't look at the real goal of the movie. That goal is the transformation of the feral animal, Wolverine, into Logan, a man with loyalty and loved ones. Soon after Logan returns from his trip to Alkali lake, which he departed for at the end of X-Men, the mansion is raided by Stryker. The Colonel refers to Wolverine as an "animal," and adds that he would never expect to find him there. This really hits Logan and you can sense him affected and changed. He realizes how much better the X-Men treat him. Even Scott, in many ways a fierce rival, refers to the man as Logan, not Wolverine. For Scott to extend that much respect to him shows that Stryker is wrong and that a man can change. The transformation is complete by the end of the movie, so I feel it was mission accomplished.

For the story itself, they combined two of the five best story lines of all time for X-Men, and the result was quite unique. Many of the elements from "Weapon X" were incorporated with a partial adaptation of "God Loves Man Kills". The hearts of the original stories could have easily been lost, but they weren't. It was done very tastefully. I only hope they can incorporate "Fatal Attractions" and one or two more of the most classic stories for X3. If that happens, this may become one of the best trilogies ever.

Patrick Stewart called the first film a "very expensive trailer", and as far as characterization goes, I must agree with him. Don't get me wrong... I loved the first, but I would not use it as an example on developing characters. When you really got to like the characters, the credits began rolling. Well, this film--pushing 2 1/2 hours--certainly does not have to worry about that. A lot of development is accomplished in dialogue alone, by the characters like Bobby, Rogue, Storm, Jean, Professor, Cyclops, and the new Kurt Wagner. The best example I can think of is when Kurt and Storm are talking about how anger doesn't solve anything. Storm replies, "Sometimes anger can help you survive." This tells me that she is a fighter (and unbelievably hot, but i didn't need characterization to tell me that). Also, when Kurt asks Mystique why doesn't she just pose as a normal human all the time, she says: "Because we shouldn't have to." She is searching for harmony, for acceptance, but she won't hide her true self to do so.

The good dialogue in X2 accomplished more than just character development. This film, while clearly being an action/drama, managed to throw in some humorous, effective, simply badass lines. Kurt Vagner... err, I mean, Kurt Wagner had the most memorable lines in it for me. When Jean and Storm pick him up, he tells them "My name is Kurt Wagner, but in the Munic Circus I was known as the incredible Nightcrawler." Whenever he meets Logan, Cyclops, or any of the other X-Men, he says the same thing: "...but in the Munic Circus I was known as..." "Thats nice." Logan smugly interrupts, uninterested. Storm, surpisingly, had good lines in this film--lines direct and to the point. Kurt Wagner mentions pitying Humans, and Storm says, "I gave up on pity a long time ago." Magneto, with exception to Kurt, had most of the humorous lines. When the X-Jet is about to hit the ground at a high speed and is suddenly stopped, Magneto replies "Can't you people fly a plane?" When he is talking to "Pyro" John he delivers a very supportive speech to him, one that makes it easy to understand how influential Magneto can be as a leader of mutants. Speaking of Pyro, he had great smart ass remarks as well. Most come during a trip to Bobby Drake's house. You've probably seen the trailer where Mrs. Drake asks, "Have you tried not being a mutant?" As that scene continues, she blames herself for her son's "problem" and without a moment's hesitation, John quips, "Actually, they've discovered that males are the ones that carry the mutant gene and pass it on, so it's really his fault." pointing at Mr. Drake. The best line from John comes from just outside the house, when they encounter Boston Police, he says: "You know all those dangerous mutants you hear about on the news? Well I'm the worst one." Oh, so powerful.

As could be expected, Logan (Hugh Jackman) has some good dialogue as well. In the same scene when Mrs. Drake calls the mutant phenomenon a problem Logan snaps back: "What mutant problem?" Mr. Drake defends his wife against "Professor Logan" by asking what the supposed teacher actually teaches their son. "Art!" Logan barks.

Speaking of beer, there are two really great cinematic shots involving beer. Wow, just making that connection, you'd think Homer Simpson was the director. Anyway, these shots are the reason I want to be a director. Only a genius like Singer could think of creating such splendid visuals for such simple scenes. One of the first things Logan does at the Drake house is grab for a beer, and we see this looking up from the bottom of the fridge. The other "beer shot" involves a prostitute (bearing a mysterious resemblence to Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) buying a beer for someone, and a camera pan to the underside of the cup reveals a pair of pills dissolving.

I have seen every movie that has come out since November--when I was hired by Harkins Theatres--and I swear you will not find better acting than here in X2. A shame since this will never be looked at for Oscar's. James Marsden(Cyclops) surprised me most of all. He really made me like Cyke more this time around. There is still some tension between him and Logan, but the main emotion comes out when he is with Jean Grey (Famke Jannsen). This film is also a great highlight of Hugh Jackman's acting capabilities. It's hard for me to distinguish between actor Hugh Jackman in this film and the comic character he plays. That's how sound his performance is.

Set design was really good. I have recently purchased Wolverine's Revenge for the X-Box and there are parts in that game that looked straight from the pages. Well, the movie does better than that. The entire Weapon X set looked amazing. The complete reproduction of the Oval Office and surrounding corridors was impressive, and the expansion of the X-Jet was a nice touch--and makes you wonder what billionaires Professor X has been playing mindgames with to afford this equipment. ;)

 

Popcorn

 
 83%

Thom's right about the tub of popcorn. For only an hour more of your time than X-Men cost, X2 contains entertainment, super-sized... Ten times the action! For every ounce of intelligence this movie has, it has entertainment in spades.

Logan kicks ass in the mansion attack scene. Well, for that matter, the entire scene is kickass. The raid starts while Logan and Bobby are in the kitchen sharing stories, and Logan starts to get antsy, as if he senses something's wrong. A soldier breaks in to start a fight... I can't call it a fight, as it was more like Logan turning the soldier into chopped liver! =D Let the bodies hit the floor! The assualt on the mansion really enrages Logan and, hey, Logan versus twenty soldiers is one very uneven fight--in his favor. But Logan is more than a barrel of rage. He reveals the training of a silent and deadly assasin, creeping up and stabbing an unsuspecting soldier in the back, moving on to another from the side, and repeating the process with two more soldiers down the hall. You also see how well some of the older stronger students at the school handle themselves... The soldiers enter the bedroom of Syrin, and when they tranquilize her you see a huge 6'9" shadow cast by Peter Rasputin, the one the only Colossus! The soldiers take notice and try to tranq him, unsuccessfully. Young Peter Rasputin quickly takes the form of organic steel--his mutation--and the darts bounce off his chest, only angering the giant, who throws the soldiers through a very thick wall. (A note for the fans: When he meets up with Logan during the mansion assault, Colossus says, "I can help you," and Logan only replies: "Help them!" But come on... You know what's coming in the third film, don't ya? FASTBALL SPECIAL, BABY!

When Cyclops and Prof. X visit Magneto in prison, they are shortly ambushed, but Cyke is one bad motha optic blasta. Cyclops tries to get inside, but three gaurds provoke him into a fight... big mistake. Cyke takes out the two farthest ones with the optic blast, then beats the shit out of the closest with hand-to-hand combat. Cyke really jumped a few ranks in the list of favorite mutants with this film, he was just an all around better character than he was in the first.

Magneto, as you may expect, breaks out of the plastic prison. His method to do so is simply awesome. He removes a guard's blood iron, then turns the metal mist into mini wrecking balls. He demolishes his cell then flattens the balls to become platforms, allowing him to hover to the entrance, then makes two more balls to take out some gaurds.

My favorite scene in the movie is the obligitory fight between Logan and someone with ties to his past... Yes, I'm talking about Deathstrike! To initiate the fight Logan draws his claws, but Deathstrike meets his six blades with ten of her own, one extending from each finger. The only response oppriate by Logan is "Holy Shit!" Then they fight and it is brutal. Although you would think Deathstrike would have advantage with more and longer claws and a more agile frame, it is a pretty even fight. It is a marvelous fight to watch, far better than all of the scrapping with Sabretooth in the first film.

Of course, one must mention special effects, and then one must mention Nightcrawler's teleporting "Bamf!" OH MY GOD! It is better than I imagined it would be from the comic book. The best example of it is the White House scene you've seen clips of in the trailer, but rest assured you will still be in awe when you see it in theatres.

There's so much to cover about effects, but I'll only address one more: Wolverine's healing factor was much better visualized than the first film. It's just so much more fluid and natural.

 

Final

I work at Harkins Theatres and we get a free movie everyday, plus two employee passes a week to give to friends and family. I have saved all of them for a month, just so I'll have seen it ten times by May 5th or so. Yet, even with my free entry, I am still going to buy a ticket at least once. The hard work and effort that went into this movie deserves more money than Spider-Man got. 'Tis the sequel of all sequels.


2001 Words Published: 28 April 2003

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