Iíll be honest-- I did love the first X-Men. Iíve been an X-Geek for years upon years, and to see the characters pulled off with respect and care was enough to make me enjoy the first one. I had some quips with it-- the exclusion of any kind of history between Wolverine and Sabertooth, the briefness of it all, and yes, *that* line that shall not be uttered here. Up from the parts where that film was lacking came some great characterizations, thanks mainly to the fact that the X-Men characters are some of the deepest and most complex in all of comicdom. The acting helped a lot; the combined talents of all involved made the first one a much more personal film than most other summer blockbusters.
X-1 is credited with reviving the comic book franchise, and rightfully so. It made a bundle at the box office, far exceeding what it cost to make the film (Fox had Singer on a tight leash with the first oneís budget). Two years after X-Men hit, Spider-Man came out and proved to be a Marvel at the box office, DareDevil came out and...didnít...and now, three years later, weíre back, revisiting the new franchise that opened the door for the Marvel Universe.
Iím going to go ahead and tell you now: I think this is the best comic book movie ever. And Iím not exaggerating.
Everything in this movie is exceedingly better in the sequel; much like Empire Strikes Back or Wrath of Khan was to their respective franchises. Characters who were introduced in the first one are now given room to thrive and breathe, find their own voice and their own distinctiveness. The plot becomes more intricate, the situations become more dire. No comic book movie has ever dug as deep as X2 does here-- these are not only the most complex characters Iíve ever seen in a super hero movie, theyíre a group of characters who are so well written and full of small, personal moments that they transcend their four-color origins and become living, breathing people whom have pasts, presents and futures.
Like most really great sequels, the makers of the film assume youíve already seen the first one and paid enough attention to remember everyone and where they were at the conclusion. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is in the snowy terrain, searching for clues about his past. Meanwhile, in Washington, a blue teleporting mutant known as Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming in heavy makeup but still turning in an awesome performance) attempts to assassinate the president. Even though his attempt fails, it gives Gen. William Stryker (the always-reliable Brian Cox) the leverage he needs to mount an attack on what he refers to as a ďmutant training facility,Ē which, in reality, is Xavierís School for the Gifted.
I really donít feel the need to delve to far into the plot; for me to try and spell out its intricacies would be a disservice to the complexity of the plot. This movie is the modern definition of crowd-pleaser. Rousing entertainment. The kind of grand adventure in a genre so ripe with clichť that you'll truly say once again "They don't make 'em like this anymore." I swear, if this movie wasn't based on a comic book movie it'd be one of those adventures that get considered for Oscars back when the Academy still cared about films in general, not just the ones with the best campaigns. This is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This is Empire Strikes Back. This is a Babe Ruth-knock-out-of-Yankee-Stadium home run. In terms of high adventure, this is "The Man Who Would Be King". The acting is superb. The dialogue is rich. Every character feels believable. No cartoonish villains, every side of the issue is presented by people who believe they are the ones who are in the right, and honestly fell that way. This movie delivers on its characters, and the action scenes are there only to advance plot and build character, and that's the best kind of action sequences. I loved the invasion of the school even more than I loved Helm's Deep. This movie pushes PG-13 to its absolute limits. Wolverine hacks and slashes through countless soldiers. Mystique proves why she's a fan favorite. Magneto is a vicious but persuasive bastard. Cyclops shows emotion. Iceman and Pyro have a great since of friendly rivalry that quickly develops to resentment. And Anna Paquin runs around for fifteen minutes in a nightie. What's not to love?
My friend and I walked out of the theatre in stunned silence. I knew this movie would be better than the first, but I wasn't expecting to walk in and see a classic. A masterpiece. A genre-defining movie. Part two in what is destined to become one of the new classic trilogies. This movie had guts, knew it, and showed them. It took chances and built characters and had themes, three things increasingly absent from your normal summer blockbuster moneymaker. This film is something special, and I'd like to thank Bryan Singer and his talented cast and crew for delivering to me something I had only dreamed could have existed as a child. Ever since I was little, I'd always wanted an X-Men movie series. Now, not only do I have one really good film and one bona-fied classic, I've got another one waiting in the wings. God bless you, Bryan Singer, for making dreams come true again.
This movie redefines comic book genre. It restores the sense of epic adventure and grand-scale storytelling that's been absent since Superman II. This is defiantly one of my top 10 favorite movies ever made.
The bar is set. This is the movie that every other event film this summer will be measured against. And if any movie this summer can even come close to achieving the epicness of X2, then we, as film fans, are in for a real treat these next few months.
Rated PG-13 for heavy violence, language and some sensuality.
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