Hollywood continues its love affair with comic books as Bryan Singer returns to direct this sequel to the hugely successful first X-Men movie. He pulls it off in lavish style, giving us even more excitement than was found in its predecessor, but with a script that is occasionally too clever for its own good.
X2 retains the same adult feel as the first film, setting it apart from its more cartoon-like comic adaptation cousins such as Spiderman and Superman. The Marvel X-Men comic always had a potential for mature interest, given its larger roster of adult characters, as well as its more sophisticated themes such as responsibility and racism.
The particular theme that X2 focuses on is the racism one – a rogue US soldier Stryker (played by a suitably nasty Brian Cox), is determined to turn the world against Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his mutant entourage. Stryker arranges an assassination attempt against the US President using brainwashed mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), thus turning the tide of public opinion against the X-Men.
The Mutant-hating General also takes advantage of imprisoned evil mutant Magneto (played brilliantly by a very un-Gandalf-like Ian McKellan), and interrogates him with extreme prejudice to find out where Xavier’s mutant school is. And then with the help of the US military all hell breaks loose, as Stryker’s genocidal plan, as it turns out to be, kicks off.
X2 sees the return of all our favourite characters from the first movie, including Storm (Halle Berry), Rogue (Anna Paquin), and the man with the dodgy hairstyle and deadly nails – Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Also some great new mutants are introduced whose unexpected powers add spice to an already fast-paced plot, and must have added serious dollars to the special effects budget.
High points of the action-packed two hours are Nightcrawler’s drubbing of the Secret Service in the Whitehouse, the US Special Forces attack on the X-Men school, and just about every single scene where the twisted, but beautiful and fascinating, Mystique takes the lead.
Quibbles with this movie are few, but include the multiple plot twists in this film, which many will find transparent. Furthermore they tend to bring the viewer out of the movie as you find yourself always trying to guess the next twist. There is also a rather too-convenient power attributed to Professor X, where he can seem to freeze time for all but a chosen few – one that is used unconvincingly at a particularly key plot moment.
But overall X-Men 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable action and SFX-packed night out, and lacks nothing found in the first movie. It should satisfy movie fans and comic fans alike, and entertain both adults and children.