X-Men 2 will thrill comic fans and laymen alike. The story is smoother, and the ride stays
interesting throughout the movie's run time. Gone are all the lengthy and sometimes creaky introductions to characters
and story elements. In its place, the writers have decided to introduce characters as they are introduced to the story,
sometimes without explanation or reason. This proves to be, along with improved action sequences, the reason to say
that X2 surpasses its predecessor.
The story brings Wolverine (Jackman) back from his quest for answers about his past. His
flirtations with Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) have added weight and, thanks to improved writing and subtle acting, more believeable.
This sets up the love triangle between the two and Scott Summers (James Marsden).
The first conflict presented, and perhaps the movie's best action sequence, introduces a new
mutant in his attack on the secret service in the white house. We learn that Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), or Kurt Wagner,
is more of a friend than the foe he is presented as. He is the movie's chief new character, and definitely its best
addition. Cumming plays the role at first with bravado, then settles into a subtle routine that best captures the character
and captivates the viewer.
The trailer to the film sets up the gist of the plot nicely, providing a trunk from which the
story can branch out. William Stryker (Brian Cox) is a government military-type guy with a hidden agenda. He gains
permission to raid Xavier's School for gifted youngsters, or what he calls a mutant training facility, after a mutant
scare in Washington. He brings a formidable army along, and the raid on the school becomes another action sequence
of thrills and entertainment.
The war against mutants has begun, leaving the opposing sides of the internal mutant
war, separately led by Magneto (Ian McKellan) and Professor X, to join together to save captured mutants and stop the
faction led by Stryker. The sides are wary of each other and fight along each other's side with one eye on the
enemy and one eye on their questionable allies.
The first movie was an enjoyable ride, but the sequel is the stuff sequels are supposed to be,
better and bigger. Director Singer ("The Usual Suspects," "X-Men," "Apt Pupil") is armed with a bigger budget and
more leeway from the studio who provided the budget. Singer has said that X-Men wasn't necessarily the final product
he had in mind. He infuses the sequel with elaborate action sequences, but he does something most director sacrifice
in exchange for a bigger "pop," he doesn't forget character development. Wolverine, Jean Grey, Iceman (Rogue's
love interest from the first installment, Nightcrawler, Storm (Halle Berry), and even the scaled blue Mystique ( Rebecca Romijn
Stamos) get character upgrades. It's true that Nightcrawler was not in the first movie, but his character is fleshed
out quite nicely. The acting bar was raised and everybody met it.
I liked the movie a lot, but the film had its detractions. The ending seemed stunted,
and it was a shame after all the quality that came before it. I don't want to divulge any details, so I won't go any
further about the ending. It should be made clear that the movie's final action sequence is stunning and satisfying.
The problem stems from the subsequent exposition, the story clean up. Things are left unanswered, and there should be
open-ended musings, but the dialogue and speeches at the very end left me with only a glimpse of what could have been.
Regardless of the broken down ending, the movie is very entertaining and worth the price of
admission. It thrills and locks you into its world long enough to entertain you, and there's not a lot more that you
can ask of a summer blockbuster. I saw the Matrix: Reloaded and found it to be a great movie and in every way the superior
of X2, but I can feel better recommending X2. It is more accessible and able to act as a stand alone film, unlike Matrix:
Reloaded. More people will feel satisfied coming out of X2 than Matrix: Reloaded, though I side with Matrix: Reloaded.