Ror Revisits: X-Men 2

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..

Review Opinion
By MarkCassidy - May 30, 2011 08:05 AM EST
Filed Under: X2: X-Men United
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.



BATMAN: SOUL OF THE DRAGON Star Kelly Hu On Lady Deathstrike Return And Working With Bryan Singer - EXCLUSIVE

BATMAN: SOUL OF THE DRAGON Star Kelly Hu On Lady Deathstrike Return And Working With Bryan Singer - EXCLUSIVE

X2: X-MEN UNITED Writer Zak Penn Says The Dark Phoenix Saga Almost Made It Into The Movie
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X2: X-MEN UNITED Writer Zak Penn Says The Dark Phoenix Saga Almost Made It Into The Movie

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LeeShard - 5/30/2011, 9:01 AM
I gotta admit NIGHTCRAWLER owned in X2!
JoshWilding - 5/30/2011, 9:02 AM
Great review ROR! :)

I actually watched all three movies on blu-ray this week, and was surprised to find I really enjoyed both of Singer's this time around. (let's just all agree that Ratner's was an abomination and leave it at that) Personally, I liked X-Men the most as it featured more of them working as a team whereas this one seemed to split them up into groups of one or two.

Regardless, I agree that this was a fantastic movie (the fights and opening White House scene in particular) and the only major problems I had with it were Cyclops being sidelined so early on (and never really given ANYTHING to do...would have been much happier seeing him and Wolverine working together with either Storm or Jean being taken out) and Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler. Did not like him at all.

As I said, preferred X-Men, but this was still great. Would have liked the Bobby/Rogue/Pyro stuff scrapped personally, but hard to find too many faults overall. Bring on X-Men: First Class! :)
BIGBMH - 5/30/2011, 9:22 AM
Thank you! This remains one of my favorite CBMs. Not enough people give it credit.
vermillion - 5/30/2011, 9:25 AM
Man, Jackman looks so tiny compared to how big he is now. :F

X-2 was the best X-Men film, IMO. First Class could change that, we'll see I guess. Not holding my breath, though.
WellDrawn - 5/30/2011, 9:26 AM
Ha! Just watched it last night. The movie ended on such a high note, it makes me mad just to think about what Ratner did to the series X(

Also, Cyclops - talk about getting the short end of the stick in all 3 movies...
X1 - mostly acts as an obstacle between Logan and Jean.
X2 - only notable scene is him as a brainwashed bad guy.
X3 - Killed off almost immediately.

We have yet to see the fearless leader from the comics we all know and love.
PaulRom - 5/30/2011, 9:31 AM
I was just thinking about you doing a revisit in the near future @Ror. Pretty cool. :P
Anyways, good review as usual. I agree with @UltimateIronAngelX on everyone hating the X-franchise based upon X3 and Wolverine and totally forgot about the previous installments. Looks like First Class could be the best of the franchise.
catman - 5/30/2011, 9:36 AM
Awesome review as always Ror! Great job! I agree this is the best x-movie yet( Im gonna see first class next week) The first half of the movie was epic!! The tension was ramped up when the bad guys invaded the mansion and the chat with Mags and charles until the gas comes in with cyclops kicking ass was awesome too. Everyone played their roles so much better in this one :) Wolvie killing that guard was movie magic. But damn Coloussis was underused.. cant wait for first class!!!
Hellsing - 5/30/2011, 9:43 AM
you can hate singers first two films for not being entirely faithful but it did kick start the comic book revolution studio's realised that you could make an "actual" movie not batman and robin toy commercial out of these properties. I absolutely loved x2 didn't care much about the faithfulness then wasn't even in to comics then, it got me in to it eventually. The story was pretty straightforward but its definitely in my top 10. and in all honesty Cyclops has gotten the shaft a lot in comics I mean a LOT. Personally I feel like he's finally stepped in to the spotlight, he's stepped out the shadows of xavier, and even wolverine respects him now.
Amazo - 5/30/2011, 9:54 AM
Good review but I think you rated it a little too highly.
I personally find it a bit too calm for want of a better word.For example,the fight between Jean and a mind controlled Cyclops is over in seconds when it had the potential to be an almighty smack down combined with emotional turmoil as the two lovers try to kill each other.Instead it was a non starter.There simply isn't enough display of power from any of the characters.The film makers seem to have very limited ideas of what these people could really do with their powers.Wolverine is still a nutured version of himself.Storm creates a bit of wind(yawn).
Don't get me wrong,I do enjoy the movie,but like the first film it leaves me wanting more than I got.
I'd give it a strong 3.75/5
Amazo - 5/30/2011, 9:56 AM
Agree about the Wolverine/Cyclops angle.
The X-men movies should really all be retitled as Wolverine movies.The X-men barely get a look in.
marvel72 - 5/30/2011, 10:03 AM
definetly the best x-men film & fox best cbm to date.

for me it was a film filled with moments.

1.nightcrawler in the white house was great maybe the best cbm scene ever!

2.magneto's prison break.

3.magneto holding the black bird in the air.

MarkCassidy - 5/30/2011, 10:05 AM
Cheers guys.

Brazil, yes, The Avengers WILL focus on one character more than any other. It's inevitable. There is always a principal character even in an ensemble. Who will it be? That's up to Whedon, but you simply can't write a screen play, let alone shoot it without having a main character. Now, it might only be marginal, but mark my words one of the Avengers will emerge as the movie's "lead".
arekusandora - 5/30/2011, 10:07 AM
The first one is my favorite hands down. X-2 i really liked too but they irritated me for putting N'sinc music on one part. Or was it Backstreet Boys? And I didn't the actor for Striker so much.
skullboy - 5/30/2011, 10:07 AM
You are weird with your movies Ror

Not a fan of X2 and don't get all the love it gets. Wizard went as far as saying if was better than the 1st Superman which was blasphemous. Didn't like the direction and storyline. Brian Cox's character didn't really do it for me. Also not a fan of the costumes and I felt the characters were being held back on their powers, especially Ice-Man. Anybody who thinks he looks way cooler without his whole body iced up is retarded. Wasn't keen with the idea that Ice's parents never knew he was a mutant even though in the comics, they knew since he was a baby. And uh...Ice never had a mutant hating brother. I think Bryan is a bit overrated and it was a matter of time before people started questioning his directing talents with Superman Returns. X2 had alotta action and Nightcrawler was pretty good, but that's all the movie had going for it. I never watched the movie again.
GiftedYoungster - 5/30/2011, 10:15 AM
Loved X2, But I'd sell my soul for a scene for scene "GL,MK"
adaptation. Such a solid story.
BIGBMH - 5/30/2011, 10:19 AM
@Ror, I agree. There has to be a main, point-of-view character. LOTR has Frodo, with the Losers it was Clay, etc. I would definitely want it to be Cap for Avengers since the time period it covers is most interesting from a personal perspective for him, but I'm worried it will be Tony.
STYGR8dotCOM - 5/30/2011, 10:29 AM
i just enjoy watching comic book movies. as long as they don't ruin it like they did with dragon ball. im mostly ok with it hah
MarkCassidy - 5/30/2011, 10:32 AM
lol, Tea..a lot of them are kinda general inaccuracies/continuity mistakes etc that you see in pretty much all movies, but I'll address a few others just for a laugh!

Nightcrawler CAN teleport where he cant see, he just avoids it. In the whitehouse he was being controlled by Stryker so didn't even heed any danger.

Maybe he climbed the tree? Either way, not really a big deal is it?

You mean when Xavier went to see magneto with Scott? Who say sit was night time?

Ice-Man froze(pun intended) under fear of cop bullets!

Rogue isn't ugly, you just don't find a woman attractive unless she looks like a complete whore!;)

Earz... "sorry but singer's films were too ratner's...i mean 3 sentinels, cable or apocalypse...sinister?"

"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."

Dr Who I've been revisiting old CBMs for over a year now. You new? "everyone else" was one person and the situation ha since been resolved.
AC1 - 5/30/2011, 10:33 AM
My favourite X movie so far (at least until First Class comes out, which already looks like it could take X2's place). The thing with Bryan Singer's X films is that they arent necessarily bad (except sidelining Cyclops, not the worst thing but not a good thing either), they're just becoming quite dated. However, I'll maintain that I think the casting is spot on for the most part (wouldn't mind Halle being replaced with someone like Zoe Saldanna in the future), and as a lot of people know I'm a huge fan of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Hell, even Marsden as Cyclops is great casting, or it would be if he had a bigger role.

Whenever I watch it now though, I get a bitter feeling right at the end, with the Phoenix flying through the flooded Alkali Lake, when I think of how good a sequel could've been, and how badly they missed the mark on X3, which I still think is the worst in the series.
zambalele09 - 5/30/2011, 10:34 AM
Nice review. Liked the first one better though.
MarkCassidy - 5/30/2011, 10:46 AM
haha, no not at all,. I said LOOKS like a whore! ;) I'm joking of course.

Yeah I nit pick sometimes too, but not if a movie is great on most levels. I mean there are GLARING mistakes in LOTR but you have to let stuff slide sometimes.
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 10:49 AM
i gotta say they i think they all sucked if anything 1 was the best
2 was boring idk maybe its me i dont why every1 likes it, it was so predictable,stryker was boring villain for a second movie they teased every1 with a ending for a disaster of a 3rd movie no matter who directed it. besides the the few cool action scenes i think everything was just boring. strykers son and stuff it just sucked idk i dont get it
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 10:51 AM
@ tea she looked like crap no doubt
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 10:52 AM
bales batman voice is way more extreme in the tdk
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 10:59 AM
i havent seen 2 in a while i would like to see it again. i hated it when i first saw it and prob only saw it once other then that, if i got see a movie more then twice to try to like it i dont think its very good though.
Altair - 5/30/2011, 11:01 AM
I love this movie. Sure, had it's low points, but Nightcrawler was awesome, and killing Jean was actually like the comics, for once. It's a shame that after First Class, we won't get a reboot where the costumes look even a little like current continuity. Spider-Man the Movie proved that classic costumes can be done in films without being too campy. Remember Ultimate Alliance 2? Those heroes had realistic costumes with the same designs.
dancingmonkey08 - 5/30/2011, 11:04 AM
Ha what a coincedence me and my friend were just watching X-Men 2 last night! And I continue to absolutely love it, if First Class is the quality of X2, it will do a great job. Ror, yet again, your review is perfect, I agree completely with it

Apart from "movie a little too long comment", I thought it was a perfect length

The ultimate flaw as you said far too little Cyclops & too much Wolverine! And the other flaw I have with X2 (and its not the movie's fault in the slightest), it reminds me how Wolverine should have been done in the flashbacks and the perfect ending to X2 unfortunately reminds me it leads to a far inferior movie

ok I know its none of my goddamn business, but since when did you completely change your stance on the Singer X-Men film series. I remember the days when you had a hatred for the X-Men movies, that Singer was Satan to you, that his movies were a mistake (Im sure you dont have a love for him now either but you have changed your stance on the movies). Total change of heart or are you just trying to fit in with everyone else
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 11:07 AM
@tea bale was worried about being over shadowed by heath so i he had go hard
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 11:08 AM
josh got new found love for x movies
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 11:09 AM
until hes sees first class and finds out it has nothing to do with x-men
Ichaos - 5/30/2011, 11:14 AM
Anyone that doesnt like a cbm for not being entirely fateful.... My sugestion is don't whatch any of them except possibly Sin City. All adaptions from one media to film is very likely to have some changes.
Joe6Pack74 - 5/30/2011, 11:26 AM
If it was not for X1 and X2 CBM's would not be where they are today. Singer set the pace for what we all enjoy now. Like or hate them they are what they are.
dickmastaflex - 5/30/2011, 11:32 AM
i got to say i think thats wrong number 21 spiderman was already in production when x1 was out and if it was any1 who started it was fox sadly enough not singer.
spiderman was the first blockbuster to let film makers no there was series money involved.
dont ever forget burtons batmans he proved he can make a good cbm back in the 80s
LeeShard - 5/30/2011, 11:40 AM

2 years of hating Singers X-Men then suddenly you like 'em!

Sorry man, that did tickle my funny bone lol ! : D

At least they got NIGHTCRAWLER right and BEAST in that horrible X3!
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