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Movie of the Day – X2: X-Men United

Posted on the 04 May 2012 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

I guess I am still on a comic book movie kick as of late, which is perfectly fine for me since I adore these sort of films.  As you all know, I am a comic book geek, so this post, like my other comic book posts, will be filled with glee and adoration for the medium and genre.  I wrote about the first film of the X-Men series about a year ago right before the release of the X-Men First Class film, which I loved.  I have a lot of attachment to the comic series as it was one of the first comic books I ever remember reading.  I remember getting excited about the television series, toys, collector cards and the comic themselves as I will continuously go back to the trades and re-read them.  The first film, after looking back at it, is a setup for what the second film was hoping to vault from.  X-Men started out slow with the methodical setup of the world in which mutants existed and how society copes and deals with them.  It wasn’t an action heavy first film, but more of a drama that establishes the world in which the X-Men exist. Now in the grand tradition of sequels surpassing the original film, X2 managed to open up with one of the best comic book film openings, cementing the ride we were about to take.

When a failed assassination attempt occurs on the President’s (Cotter Smith) life by the teleporting mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), it’s Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his School for Gifted Youngsters who are targeted for the crime. While Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Storm (Halle Berry) try and locate the assassin, Cyclops (James Marsden) and Xavier (also known as ‘Professor X’) seek answers from their old foe Magneto (Ian McKellan) in his glass cell…Little do they know they’re walking into a trap set by the villainous William Stryker (Brian Cox), a mysterious governmental figure that figures into Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) secretive past, along with information about the X-Men’s operation, supplied by Magneto through a mind-controlling agent. Meanwhile Wolverine, just home from a failed mission to regain his memory, is in charge of the students when a crack-commando team led by Stryker infiltrates the school by order of the President. With a mansion full of young, powerful mutants and the ferocious Wolverine in babysitter mode, can he defend the school against the one man who can answer his questions? What roles do the sinister Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) have in all of this? Why does Stryker want Professor X and his Cerebro machine? With the war between humanity and mutants escalating to extremes, can the rest of the X-Men trust their old foes to help them?  ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

Alright, who’s jaw wasn’t on the ground when they saw the opening attack on the White House by Nightcrawler?  I was speechless when I saw the teleoporting mutant tear apart the security guards and single handidly carry out his task of getting to the president.  It was intense, action packed and pretty much left the first film in the dust. Seeing Nightcrawler zip around the corridors and dispatching the guards with acrobatic stealth was damn near incredible and that was just the opening of the film. Singer definitely learned from the few shortcomings that the first film had and gave us what we wanted, mutants kicking ass.

With the opening sequences setting the tone for the film, there are numerous action set pieces that are impressive by themselves. The attack on the mansion showcased Wolverine finally getting a chance to let loose the rage and bring the pain. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing Wolverine slice and dice his way with a fury that is unmatched by any character in the X-Men universe. He really became the centerpiece of the film, with a lot of the story focus on his struggle to understand where he came from and who made him the way he is. His nemesis is Col. Striker, played by Brian Cox. He brings that much needed father figure that Wolverine needs to understand his role in life. Plus Striker seems to be the one who can calm the beast by dangling the information in front of him. It’s a weird and interesting thing to see such a powerful character brought down by the smallest hint of information about his past.

While the action definitely plays a much bigger role in the film, Bryan Singer does miss the message and aim of the film. It is about struggling to survive in a hostile world, either learning to evolve with the danger or banding together to weather it out. The role of humans versus mutants is at the forefront of the struggle and conflict, with the White House attack provoking anger and unrest, the battle lies in coping with the hostile situation. Singer adds a lot of human elements to the film, showing that both sides are not perfect and use whatever means are available to overcome the other. It is a well developed plot and story, one that took what the first created and then expanding upon both the story and action. Hate to say that all this hard work was squandered with the 3rd movie that was downright bad. X2 followed that wonderful tradition of sequels being better than the original and you would be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees that X2 outshines the first film. From the increased action, strong plot line and diverse cast of mutants and humans, X2 easily sits in the top echelon of comic book movies.

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