X2 review by The Grim Ringler

Ok, first of all, I refuse to call it X-Men United, sorry, no way. I mean, who is the genius that thought of that? Two things, firstly, you’re an ass, secondly, you’re fired. Ok, on to the review – well kids, like it or not…welcome to the Summer Movie Craze. WHOO HOO! Grab your Royal Crown Cola and your Good-N-Plenty’s and get put your money down on which will be the big money sucker. Me, I like summer movies, they are what they are, fun, hopefully, if we’re lucky and Michael Bay steers clear of the movie, and I gotta tell ya, X2 is a pretty great way to start the season.

Picking up quite near to the conclusion of the first film, we find Wolverine searching for the truth behind his identity, Magneto safely locked away in a plastic cage, and the rest of the X gang doing what they do best, which is, ummm, stuff. When Wolverine can’t find the meaning to the mysteries in his body though he returns to the school for the gifted and finds that much has changed while he’s been away, though his feelings for Jean Grey have not, they have indeed deepened. Meanwhile a rogue mutant (the wonderful Alan Cummings as Nightcrawler) has made an assassination attempt on the president, thus opening the door for a grim general William Stryker (yay for Brian Cox, good to see him getting some quality work finally) to raid the Dr. Xavier’s school for the gifted when only Wolverine is left to protect the children. During the attack on the school Wolverine shows a darker side while protecting the children, a side it seems he had repressed but that had been there the entire time, waiting – an animalistic side. And as many of the children are lead by the character Colossus out of the school Wolverine begins slaughtering the invading force, only halting when confronted with General Stryker, who seems to hold the secrets to the past Wolverine is so desperate to find. Rogue and Iceman manage to convince Wolverine to escape with them, and while he goes with them, he can’t get the feeling out of his head that Stryker holds the key to who Wolverine really is. Meanwhile Stryker has been plying Magneto with a home-brewed poison that works as a sort of truth serum and has thus found out all of the secrets of Dr. Xavier’s school, more importantly about Cerebro, his link to all Man, and Mutant-kind. And Stryker, managing to trap both Dr. X and Cyclops while they are on yet another visit to Magneto, finally has the last piece he needs to wage his assault on all mutant kind – Professor X. Realizing his plan, Mystique, Magneto’s shape-shifting lover, frees him and both forge an awkward alliance with the X-Men in order to stop what may well become a final holocaust that wipes out all mankind.

X2 at all. There is depth, character development, social subtext, and heck, a much darker film than the first. Where the first one had the X-Men wanting to everything they could to save Mankind, this time around they aren’t as worried about saving everyone as much as doing what it takes to save themselves. Wolverine is a much darker, angrier character this time around, his unrequited love for Jean and his frustration at not knowing who he is getting the better of him as he takes his rage out on those that are trying to destroy the mutants. And to counter his rage is the wonderful character of Nightcrawler, who not only adds a more spiritual character to the cast but also brings out more from Halle Berry’s much improved character of Storm as its more than obvious that these two have a bit of a crush on one another. Throughout the movie too there is a sadness too as even the minor characters are realizing that the rift between the mutants and the rest of mankind is so great that even the ties of blood cannot bridge the gap. And finally we are getting a glimpse at the greater picture – that no matter how much they try, the mutants cannot be more than they are, and will always be different. Iceman is even asked by his mother if he can’t just stop being a mutant, and that sums it all up. There is an exchange of dialogue between Nightcrawler and Storm in which he is telling her how he pities the blindness of the humans, and yet all she can feel for them is fear and anger, and it’s a tremendous scene. The comics to screen movies, since Batman ­have been getting deeper and darker in small increments and with X2 I think we finally see how poignant these films can be. And I applaud the writers because they really nailed the love triangle between Jean, Cyclops, and Wolverine, and have created not just superheroes but characters. It is interesting too that the film is so dark, that, like the Star Wars prequels, you get the feeling that the war they speak of during the first two X-Men movies really is coming, will be like nothing either side can imagine. And it is the ending of the film that really makes it clear to me that, in the hands of the people that made the first two films, these films can just keep getting better if they stay the course. And I like that no matter how spectacular the effects are, the film is full of so many good actors that none are lost within the effects, all manage to hold their own against some really beautiful computer work, and that too is yet another change from the first film, where it just became spectacle after a certain point.

But is the movie perfect? No, of course not. It does get confusing with so many characters bopping in and out of the story and you just know that you are missing out on some bit of comic geek ephemera and sure, it doesn’t take away from the story, but it does bug you. I mean, dammit, it’s like looking at someone else’s family album and being expected to know who all the people you are seeing are. Ya just can’t do it. The film also is pretty darn long. I liked it, and I think they did a very good job of pacing everything, but still, it feels like it’s going to end about three or four times and yet keeps on trucking and I think a lot of people might not have the patience for that.

Director Singer and his cast have created a truly wonderful film that should rake in the cash this Summer, and deservedly so. It’s good to see comic books finally being taken seriously and used as they were at their inception – as a way to address deeper issues via an easily accessible format. I dunno if I can say this is the best comic book movie ever, but if it isn’t, it is surely one of the best, and has raised the bar for its inevitable sequel and for every other comic adaptation yet to come. A really fun, surprisingly deep film that, at least for me, has lived up to the hype.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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