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Film Title

X2: X-Men United

Director

Bryan Singer

Starring

  • Patrick Stewart as Professor X
  • Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine
  • Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
  • Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe/Storm
  • Famke Janssen as Jean Grey
  • James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops
  • Anna Paquin as Marie/Rogue
  • Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique
  • Brian Cox as Colonel William Stryker
  • Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
  • Aaron Stanford as John Allerdyce/Pyro
  • Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake/Iceman
  • Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike

Following on from the groundwork of the first movie, X2: X-Men United is to many including me, a better film than the first. We get more action, character development and an exciting storyline. The first one is a great movie, but for me X2 is a film I hold in higher regard because of its breathless action, special effects and high calibre cast.

X2 X Men United PosterAfter an attempt on the president’s life by a mutant, the prejudice between humans and mutants continues to grow. Professor X initially wonders whether his old friend and now adversary Magneto had anything to do with it. Meanwhile, Wolverine is trying to piece together the pieces of his past but finding it increasingly hard to find answers. Professor X and Cyclops visit Magneto in his prison to find out what he knows, while Jean Grey and Storm track down the mutant who made an attempt on the president’s life. Wolverine is left to watch over the students whilst all of this is going on. The intelligent Professor X soon discovers that it wasn’t Magneto who orchestrated the attack, but the mysterious and sadistic Colonel Stryker, who later captures the Professor and Cyclops and holds the key to Wolverine’s past. Stryker plans to use him to locate the powerful Cerebro, which will enable him to find every mutant in the world and kill them. He sends his forces to Xavier’s academy where they capture several students, many of the others including Rogue, her new boyfriend Bobby/Iceman and John/Pyro manage to escape with Wolverine. After discovering the mutant who attempted to kill the president, his name is Nightcrawler and he can teleport, Storm and Jean realise he was brainwashed to do it by Stryker. The X-Men reluctantly team up with Magneto and his partner the shapeshifter Mystique to bring down Stryker’s plan of mutant extermination.

Whereas in the first movie, Bryan Singer established the characters, certain ones were not given enough screen time. He more than makes up for this with X2, by expanding character arcs and introducing new characters. One thing that is enjoyable about the film is the way it manages to keep our interest by cross-cutting between the different factions of the team as they discover Stryker’s nefarious plan. This clearly shows the breathless scope of Singer’s film as he manages to balance this character development with stunning set pieces and revelations. The script is excellent again, this time focusing on the theme of mutant acceptance into the world and how Professor X peacefully yet forcefully tries to push this idea. It is also interesting to watch Magneto and his band of mutants join forces with the X-Men, as the goals for both are different but in this time of uncertainty they are very much united in bringing the sadistic Stryker down.

The cast of the film is high calibre to say the least. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen both shine as the strong adversary’s with wit and intelligence. Hugh Jackman continues his role of Wolverine with charm and aggression.  Halle Berry is given a lot more to do as Storm and nails the role with a determination and sexy kick ass attitude. Famke Janssen grows in power as Jean, making her a character you really don’t want to mess with. Unfortunately, James Marsden is given little to do as Cyclops in this movie. On the other hand, Anna Paquin continues to impress as Rogue, portraying her angst and frustration as she begins a relationship but can’t physically connect. Brian Cox is a splendidly evil villain in this and is relishes the despicable nature of his character with glee. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos continues to slink across the screen with a sexy yet dangerous appeal as Mystique. Alan Cumming manages to elicit sympathy for the character of Nightcrawler, showing how he isn’t as bad as people have made him out to be and how he is a god-fearing person. New to the X-Men universe are Aaron Stanford as the fire controlling Pyro and Shawn Ashmore as the Iceman. The two are excellently cast, with Iceman’s revelation to his parents that he is a mutant a particularly moving moment and Pyro considering defecting Magneto’s band of mutants an interesting choice.  Rounding out the cast is Kelly Hu, who provides silent but lethal menace as the claw wielding Lady Deathstrike. Her battle with Wolverine is an action-packed set piece that barely pauses for breath.

Directed with precision by Bryan Singer, X2 emerges as an action-packed follow-up to X-Men that more than capably stands on its own two feet as a great movie.

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