X2: X-Men United Review
By Shawn McKenzie 05/04/2003
Many people are referring to this movie, X2: X-Men United, as the first movie of the summer. If “first movie” means “guaranteed blockbuster,” then it is right. Fortunately, this popcorn flick also happens to be very, very good, and yes, it will satisfy the comic book geeks.
Now that Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto (Ian McKellen), is in a plastic jail with no metal he can control, things seem right in the world. Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) feels like he can finally run his school of mutants peacefully and co-exist in a world filled with prejudice against them. His older mutants, telepath Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the weather controlling Ororo Munroe, a.k.a. Storm (Halle Berry), and laser beam emitting Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops (James Marsden), are now teaching a new generation of students. John Allerdyce, a.k.a Pyro (Aaron Stanford), is a conflicted teen who can control but not create fire, and seems to have a problem with also controlling his temper. Bobby Drake, a.k.a. Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), can instantly freeze anything, and his dating veteran student Marie D’Ancanto, a.k.a. Rogue (Anna Paquin.) Well…kind of dating. Since her power involves absorbing the life force out of anyone whose skin comes in contact with her skin, she’s hesitant to do intimate dating things, like kissing, because she’s afraid it might kill him. Xavier’s hopes for peace are dashed when another mutant, Kurt Wagner, a.k.a. Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), breaks into the Oval Office of President McKenna (Cotter Smith) and appears to want to kill him. Fortunately, he doesn’t, but the break-in brings back talks of mutant registration. McKenna has a high-level meeting with Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison), who seems to have done a 180 on his opinion of mutant registration (he was previously for it), and General William Stryker (Brian Cox), a man who has studied mutants for years. He hates all mutants, and only keeps a few around, like his assistant Yuriko Oyama, a.k.a. Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), in order to use them against mutants as a whole. His hatred started when his son Jason (Michael Reid MacKay) hadn’t been sufficiently dealt with by Xavier when Jason was a student there. Jason now secretes a mind-altering substance that Stryker uses to his advantage. The general also has a past with Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), whom Xavier has sent off on a reconnaissance mission to check out a location that came to him in a vision. Xavier also sends Storm and Jean Grey on a mission to deal with the Nightcrawler problem. Wolverine comes back from his mission right before Stryker’s forces raid the school and kidnap some of the younger students. Wolverine manages to rescue several of the students, with a little help from Piotr Rasputin, a.k.a. Colossus (Daniel Cudmore.) Stryker has also kidnapped Xavier, and he uses his son’s powers to probe the professor’s mind with the hope that it will operate an artificial version of Cerebro, a device that could be used to pinpoint all the mutants on Earth and kill them. The remaining X-Men begrudgingly form an alliance with Magneto, who is now free, thanks to his shape-shifting assistant, Raven Darkholme, a.k.a. Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.) Together, they must stop Stryker before he is successful in enacting his diabolical plan to kill all mutants.
I loved the original X-Men movie. It had multiple interesting characters and a rich comic book history of which the movie just scratched the surface. All fans of the comic book have their personal favorite characters, and it looks like director Bryan Singer is rolling them out a few at a time, giving us a chance to really get to know them. The first movie introduced the core characters while teasing us with upcoming characters. This movie does the same thing, but it also expands further on the older characters’ pasts, or more specifically, my favorite X-Man Wolverine. Teases of Colossus, Gambit, and Beast make us geeks salivate for more. I’ve never read the comic book, but I did watch the cartoon for awhile (though not for years), and I can attest that you don’t need to be a hardcore fan to understand or enjoy the movie. It does help to bring along a hardcore X-Men geek with you to the movie though, if only so he can point out the little references inserted into the movie for the devoted fans.
I’ve noticed that this movie is being compared to The Empire Strikes Back. I would have to do the same thing, but for different reasons. They make the comparison that both movies are superior action/science fiction sequels. I would make the comparison that they both felt like transition movies. In other words, they both felt like they were meant to bridge the movies that preceded them to the movies that followed them. I have no idea if Singer intends on making this a trilogy or a series (I hope for the latter), but either way, this movie promises great things to come.
You’ll probably hear from most fans of the first movie that X2: X-Men United was even better. In my opinion, the movie is just as good…no better, no worse. Keep in mind that I thought the first movie was better than either Spider-Man or Daredevil, so that isn’t exactly an insult. Both movies are pure comic book eye candy, and you’ll want to scarf them both down often.
Get the Activision video game, X2: Wolverine’s Revenge, available in five different system formats:
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