a critiQal film review X-Men 2 (2003)

Plot: After an attack on the President of the United States, mutants are being hunted by a man named Striker (Cox)...and Xavier's School for the Gifted is the first target. Now, Wolverine (Jackman), Iceman (Ashmore), Rogue (Paquin),Pyro (Stanford), Storm (Berry), Jean Grey (Janssen), Cyclops (Marsden), Nightcrawler (Cumming) and Charles Xavier (Stewart) need to do the improbable...team up with Mystique (Romijn) and recently escaped Magneto (McKellan)...to save all of mutant kind.

630 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 9s)
  • ...the X-Men are still the superheroes to beat!

Ah…can you feel it in the air? The warm breezes, the longer days, the great blockbusters coming to the theaters…yes, it’s summer at last! And to kick things off with a bang, I was there on opening night to see the X-Men (2000) sequel, X-Men 2, the first of what looks to be a huge summer crop of films (Hulk (2003), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), etc.).

So, is the summer of 2003 kicking off with a bang…or a whimper? Sonic boom, anyone?

With an increasing cast of characters in X-Men 2, there is always more of a chance that one of the actors/actresses may be so bad it’ll bring down the whole film. Luckily for the viewers, that doesn’t happen here. Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn and James Marsden all return for the second film, and everybody easily slips back into their characters, bringing the same excitement and vitality to their roles as they did in the original film.

Newcomers Alan Cumming (who you might remember from GoldenEye (1995)), Brian Cox, and Kelly Hu (as the evil Deathstrike) all are welcome editions to the expanding cast, and perform admirably. Also, Shawn Ashmore and Aaron Stanford, who both made a brief appearance in the first film, are given much expanded roles in X-Men 2, and do a great job, as well.

The plot is a nice extension of the original film. It’s gotta be hard coming up with a second film. You don’t want to repeat the first film, but you don’t want to have the characters act in ways that they wouldn’t have in the first film, either. Plus, you want to give fans what they want to see. You want to introduce new characters, but not so many they just get lost in the shuffle. You want to continue any little storylines from the first film, but, if you’re looking for more sequels, you want to give the audience something to look forward to in future films as well.

X-Men 2 fits all of these perfectly. The teaming up with Magneto and Mystique against a greater threat was a nice change, and you could almost feel the tension in the air the whole time. They introduced Nightcrawler, and I, for one, am happy with that, since he’s always been a comic book favorite of mine. Full of surprises, and definitely leaving you aching to see the next film, X-Men 2‘s plot is exceptional.

The special effects continue to astonish and amaze. The addition of Nightcrawler, a teleporter who leaves behind a bit of smoke, gave the filmmakers ample room for error. They came through with flying colors, however, most notably during Nightcrawler’s first scene. It’s very impressive and exciting all at the same time. That scene alone is worth the money to go see it on the big screen!

With so many special effects abounding throughout the film, one would think that the plot would become lost in the shuffle. Not for this film, and that’s truly an amazing feat, considering some of the effects being shown.

So, what separates the X-Men (2000) and X-Men 2 from, say, it’s retarded brother, Spider-Man (2002)? Despite it’s astonishing array of special effects, everything looks entirely believable. The actors all continue to coax their characters to higher levels of achievement, always improving on their roles, and bringing real life to their characters. On top of all that, the plot is always in sight, and doesn’t just fizzle away…it stays strong throughout, a real feat for a special effects extravaganza of this size.

If you haven’t seen the first film, don’t worry. This film works as a stand alone, as well as a sequel. Whatever you do, don’t miss X-Men 2.

Start your summer off with a bang!

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