Ror Revisits: X-Men 2

With X-Men: First Class just about to hit theaters, I thought i'd go back and take a look at what is generally considered to be the best of Fox's previous X installments..

Reviews Opinion
X-Men 2, or X-Men: United in certain parts of the world, is usually mentioned up in the higher end of the quality spectrum when people talk about comic book adaptations. At least, it is by anyone looking at it as a film fan first and comic fan second. The other way around and you go into a grey area as the plot bares only a passing resemblance to any specific comic arc(in this case God Loves man Kills) and, like Bryan Singer's first X-Men, some of the characters go through a few changes too.

Basically, if you disliked Singer's first film for disregarding certain aspects of the comic then you won't like his sequel any more. If however(like me) you enjoyed the first one but found it a bit lacking in the last act, then you will be very happy with X2. Another 30 odd minutes running time and a vastly improved script greatly improve the pacing and the overall quality on display.



The plot follows on pretty much exactly where the last movie left off. Magneto(Ian McKellen) is still in his plastic prison, Wolverine(Hugh Jackman) has gone to Alkali Lake to attempt to piece together his past, and the other X-Men continue to train new students under Professor Xavier(Patrick Stewart). We are also introduced to some new characters. Principally Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler(in a spectacular opening scene), also William Stryker(Brian Cox), the new villain of the story and his "Assistant", Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike(called simply Mariko here). Stryker develops a way of controlling Mutants, gleaning information and forcing them to do his bidding. Armed with this power he attempts to wipe them out for good. The X-Men form an uneasy alliance with Magneto and Mystique to stop him.

That's the basic outline, you have all surely seen the movie so I won't go into it much more. Aside from fleshing out the story and characters in this sequel, Singer also ups the action considerably. There are some great set pieces. As I have already mentioned, the opening scene in which Nightcrawler attempts(under mind control) an assassination on the President is probably the highlight of the movie. It's the one everyone remembers, but there are some other great action scenes too. Wolverine gets to unleash a (taste) of his famous berserker rage in an exciting siege on the X mansion. And my personal favorite, Magneto's prison break. Also an aerial dogfight, featuring more Nightcrawler awesomeness, and a vicious scrap between Wolverine and Deathstrike. But the best action means nothing if you don't give a damn about the characters and in that the movie is also a triumph. I always said that Singer's X movies succeeded where so many other CBMs fail, heart. You care about seeing these people's stories developing more than you care about the next explosion coming. The action serves the story, not the other way around. Without great actors it wouldn't matter of course but thankfully we get that. Hugh Jackman delivers(imo) his best portrayal of Wolverine from the four movies he has played him in. McKellen and Stewart are as good as they always are, but it's Famke Jannsen as Jean that emerges as another standout imo. Delivering quite an underrated performance. Alan Cumming also makes an impression as the spiritual, demonic looking Nightcrawler. Even Halle Berry pulls a decent performace together! Basically the entire cast are on form, the only problem is that with such a large ensemble, a few characters will inevitably be left by the wayside and unfortunately James Marsten's Cyclops suffers here. This angers a lot of fans who love the character but the simple fact is that there can only be one leading man in a movie like this and that was always going to be Wolverine. Marsten did deserve more screen time though no doubt.

There are other problems too. Some of the dialog falls into the "needless exposition" category and it's lacking a bit of bite at times when it could really use it. It's also maybe a tad TOO long. A surprising thing to complain about since we are alway stalking about these movies needing expanded running times but the last act does drag a little and might have benefited from some more trimming.

That's really the only problems I can come up with. If you really want to get into the changes made from the comics as a form of critiquing the actual movie itself then that brings up a whole different discussion. But, even saying that I do think that Singer and his screen writers have remained (pretty much) faithful to the essence of the characters they chose to use. There are exceptions, this Storm just isn't the comics Storm in any way. Rogue, although retaining the character's vulnerability and desire for human contact is obviously a far cry from the (outwardly) confident and sassy Southern Belle from the comics. But hey, nothing is perfect. These movies may not have used the characters you wanted them to use, they may not have followed the storylines you wanted them to follow, but to dismiss what they DID do right because of that is stubborn and obtuse imo. X2 is an exciting, funny, smart, dramatic blockbuster and more than deserves it's high standing among the best CBMs we have had. If Matthew Vaughn's prequel betters this(which by some accounts it has) then we are really in for something special.






By: TwitterButtons.com

By TwitterButtons.com



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With X-Men: First Class just about to hit theaters, I thought i'd go back and take a look at what is generally considered to be the best of Fox's previous X installments..

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