X2: X-MEN UNITED
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke
Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Patrick Stewart, Alan
Cumming, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Kelly Hu
2003, 124 Minutes, Directed by:
and curiouser as Alice would say: a sequel that is as good as, if not
better, than its predecessor is. Or at least my wife feels it is better than
the original X-Men – personally, I don’t think that
it is quite as thoughtful or introspective as that 2000 blockbuster. Then
again, audiences have been treated to some unexpectedly good sequels to
blockbusters lately: personally I think the second instalment of the
Harry Potter franchise and Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers both outdid their predecessors and many people agree with
me on this.
X2 (or X-Men 2
to the rest of us since T2 began
unfortunate tendency to abbreviate movie titles) picks up right where the
previous movie ended: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, looking more and more like a
young Clint Eastwood by the day) is searching for his mysterious past and
the government is still wondering how to deal with the so-called “mutant
problem.” Meanwhile more characters, including a new villain, are added to
know this is all fiction not because all mutants seem to have cool
superpowers, but because in real life George W. Bush would no doubt have
sent off all the mutants to concentration camps at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in
violation of several international treaties.
Speaking of which, the movie
kicks off with a humdinger of a scene in which a teleporting mutant with an
over-the-top Germanic accent infiltrates the White House and attempts to
kill the U.S. President. One of those scenes where one finds it difficult to
figure out just who to root for. Incidentally, this scene is set to some of
the more exciting strains of Mozart’s Requiem – attentive classical music
fans will notice that Magneto (a camp Ian McKellen enjoying himself) is
quite the Mozart fan.
"A sequel that is as good as, if not better, than its predecessor!"
Mag-who? That’s the
rub unfortunately: if you haven’t seen the original movie or don’t remember
it too well, then you’d probably be lost. In my review of the first X-Men
movie, I wrote that it is no doubt setting up the scenario for future films.
X2 proves this point: it assumes that you have seen the first film
and plunges right into the action without explaining anything.
warned though that X2 quite
resembles the source comic books.
As a kid, I remember being nonplussed
whenever picking an issue of X-Men. With other comic book titles one
could always pick up on the storyline along the way, but X-Men had
such a myriad of characters and sub-plots that it often proved futile trying
to catch up on events. So a DVD rental is in order before watching this one
benefits from a longer running time (to fit in all those subplots my dear!)
and a bigger budget that result in some cooler special effects. Especially a
wince inducing action sequence involving Wolverine battling his female
opposite stands out. A sense of humour also helps. This time outsider mutanthood is being equated to homosexuality. (I always thought that the
mutants were meant to symbolize geeky comic book readers, but that’s just
me.) Just don’t apply any logic to any of this: there are some huge plot
manages to fit in some cool action set pieces while also paying attention to
story requirements and the acting is also quite adequate. Almost as human as
Spider-man and better than
Daredevil, X2 ought to tide Marvel comic fans
over until Hulk, er, hits the big screen. . .