Retro Review: X2: X-Men United

The mutants have run amok once more. As the Marvel Comic series, “X-Men” once more hits the silver screen with its second chapter.

This time our “merry mutants” seem to face a new threat to their masquerade as an amazing mutant with extraordinary powers infiltrates the White House and attacks the President of the United States (Cotter Smith) in the name of “mutant freedom”. This attack brings on a presidential meeting between the president and a vicious military scientist, General William Stryker (Brian Cox), who brings a proposal for new legislation that will cripple every man, woman and child mutant. That secret meeting brings forth an all out assault on the X-Mansion just as Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) returns from his journey up north. How will this third viewpoint on the mutant dilemma affect the likes of teacher Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and mutant-terrorist Magneto (Sir Ian McKellan)?

“X2” is probably the best Marvel comics feature film adaptation to date. Director Bryan Singer capitalizes on his story and groundwork he laid out in the first film. There are little or no sequel hang-ups but instead the film feels a lot like the second chapter of a much lengthier novel. There are many amazing leaps forward, as Singer seems to bellow on ahead without looking back.

Whos next?

You know it is always a good sequel when it doesn’t feel like you have “been there, done that”. So many sequels fall into quagmires of cliches, hang-ups, cardboard villains, and self-cannibalization. With 15+ sequels debuting this summer, I am sure that my theory will ring true. “X2” is a great sequel because it builds on the original, continues the story without typical clichés and makes you even want to see more.

I had always stated that I liked the first “X-Men” film more than “Spider-man” purely because it felt like it had more depth and wasn’t an amalgamation of different ideas. That delivery and constantly evolving range of ideas continues in the second film. Even with two films already made on the subject matter it only feels like we are at the tip of the iceberg.

The Force is strong in this one!
The Force is strong in this one!

I really enjoyed seeing how Singer develops the level of relationships between the X-Men. I liked how Rogue was able to experience her first kiss to Wolverine unlocking a key ingredient to his secret past.

Some of the film’s more memorable moments involve the introduction of Alan Cumming’s Nightcrawler and the expansion of the character Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). The feature film versions of these characters have tweaked them enough that we almost see more humanity (good or evil) in each them than a lot of the other mutants. Singer’s expansion and introduction of these characters shows that this isn’t completely a Wolverine movie.

Yes I am blue! Gotta problem with that?

Like the first film, there are plenty of geek moments. For fans of the comic, there will be a lot of screaming at the film as it unlocks some of the moments and characters we remember from the comic series. Wait till you see how the film ends.

This is the way comic-book films should be, intelligent, mysterious and all wrapped up in a grand vision. It’s a grand vision that makes a superhero or fantasy-genre film, Singer definitely knows his.

It has been a long time since I was able to watch a superhero film with such involvement and passion. Bryan Singer’s X-Men series will probably be among the greats like Burton’s Batman and Donner’s Superman. This is surely to make any comic-fan or casual X-Men fan happy with glee.

4.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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