Wednesday, October 8, 2008

X2 (2003)

Professor X (Patrick Stewart): [voiceover] Mutants. Since the discovery of their existence they have been regarded with fear, suspicion, often hatred. Across the planet, debate rages. Are mutants the next link in the evolutionary chain or simply a new species of humanity fighting for their share of the world? Either way it is a historical fact: Sharing the world has never been humanity's defining attribute.

Storm (Halle Berry): [about Nightcrawler's markings] So... What are they?
Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming): They're angelic symbols, passed on to mankind by the archangel Gabriel.
Storm: They're beautiful. How many do you have?
Nightcrawler: One for every sin. So quite a few.

Pyro (Aaron Stanford): So, they say you're the bad guy.
Magneto (Ian McKellen): Is that what they say?
Pyro: That's a dorky looking helmet. What's it for?
Magneto: This "dorky looking helmet" is the only thing that's going to protect me from the REAL bad guys.
[magnetically takes Pyro's lighter and lights it]
Magneto: What's your name?
Pyro: [staring at his lighter in Magneto's hands] John.
Magneto: What's your *real* name, John?
Pyro: [summons lighter's flame to his hand] Pyro.
Magneto: Quite a talent you have there, Pyro.
Pyro: I can only manipulate the fire
[flame disappears into Pyro's hand]
Pyro: I can't create it.
Magneto: You are a god among insects. Never let anyone tell you different.

At a glance: The second film in the X-Men series is an improvement over the first, effectively combining a clever script, sharp direction, and an A-grade cast in one of the better comic book adaptations ever made

As a Star Trek fan, I shouldn’t have a hard time suspending my disbelief and entering an alternative universe. Such is required in the extreme when entering into a movie based on a comic book series about mutants. For some reason, I seemed to have a hard time entering this world when I watched the first X-Men movie. That was some time ago, and this time, I made sure I got my head in the right place when I entered: "That’s not the human Hugh Jackman," I reminded myself, "that’s the mutant Logan." "That’s not a silly haircut on Hugh Jackman; that’s a mutant haircut." And so on. I wanted to make sure I got full appreciation of this, the second and most critically acclaimed of the first three X-Men films. And my strategy worked this time. It probably helped that the movie is good; it sucked me into the universe right from the start.

This is not your everyday action movie. Not only was plenty of money spent on sets and locations, but the cast is a roll call of name actors: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn Anna Paquin, James Marsden, and Kelly Hu. And when it came to the director, they didn’t skimp there, either, going for the talented Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil). Singer does a great job with the action aspects of the film, but also knows how to direct the dramatic moments. But it’s rare to say this: the plot excels here. Rather than feeling like it is full of contrivances, this is a story where the jet is there not because it allows the filmmakers to include an exciting air battle (although it does), but because it makes sense that the school for mutants would have a jet parked in the back yard.

And onto the story: in brief, an evil human, William Stryker (Brian Cox)  uses his government position and personal vendetta to plot the destruction of all mutants. To defeat Stryker, all the mutants, including the dark side variety Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) must band together. Of course, there are complications. Lots of complications. If the movie has one fault, it is perhaps overlong, and, despite all the great elements, somehow not as emotionally involving as it could have been. But comic book fans will eat it up. Rating: 2.75 of 4

"Stylishly dark and visually thrilling with turbo-charged mutant action, X-Men 2 is a spectacle that delivers on every count."
- Urban Cinefile Critics (Urban Cinefile)

"Thanks to ample action, a stellar cast, amazing effects and a storyline that’s solid without being convoluted, it’s Xcellent entertainment."
- Terri Clark (Apollo Guide)

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