|While the first installment of the "X-Men" franchise did not impress critics or viewers across the board, that film was still an impressive effort in bringing a comic book story to life and making that story into a film that would appeal to a wide variety of audiences. X2 is, by all accounts, a vastly superior film and quite a good example of an action movie that has a lot more going for it than fantastic action sequences (which really are fantastic, by the way). There is a preponderance of character development in this film which should satisfy any viewer interested in the "emotional well-being" of the various "X-Men" featured, but interestingly enough, there is also a very nice percentage of action sequences which will impress fans and non-fans alike.|
In particular, the opening sequence should take the crown and hold if for a while for the most impressive use of CGI, hyper cinematography, and choreography. When a mysterious force infiltrates the White House in Washington and puts the President's life in danger, the pressure on mutants all over the planet is increased ten-fold and more attention than ever is placed on the "mutant problem" and what, legally, is to be done about it. The plot that follows the opening sequence is nothing short of remarkable in how each of several different smaller stories seem to run concurrently to the main theme. In an action film, witnessing this kind of depth is rare, given that filmmakers are usually more interested in gaining the eyes of audiences, rather than their minds.
But lo and behold, the filmmakers also managed to include more than a modicum of technically impressive and artistically creative fight and action sequences during nearly every moment of the film. The amount of technical audacity and story-line ingenuity in X2 is enough to push any viewer into sensory overload. For a full one-hundred and thirty-four minutes (this movie is longer than average), this movie clips along like a hyper Secretariat yet still manages to focus on the personalities of the various X-men. And let's face it, half the fun of the X-Men comic is witnessing the different powers each mutant possesses and how big the explosions can get.
Their interaction with one another, the quips, the sly insults, the love stories, there's enough drama in the X-Men camp to keep anybody entertained. Though the wit between "Wolverine" (played by Hugh Jackman) and "Cyclops" (played by James Marsden) seems to have turned more serious for this installment of the franchise, the emotional interplay between the two is still a vital part of the film. Their relationship and the relationships between several other sets of characters are thrown quite successfully into a crowded field by screenwriter Dan Harris (with a host of story and character creators).
There are eight "X-Men" on the movie poster for X2 and every one of those characters has some emotional clap-trap to deal with over the course of the film. Plus the special effects creators also vie for the audience's attention in just about every scene. It's quite a crowded movie, but with all the effort the filmmakers placed on every aspect of the film, it's evident from the first frame that this is a superior action film that should hook ninety-eight percent of its audience within seconds. The phrase "there's something for everyone" has probably never been more appropriate.
It would take approximately thirteen megabytes worth of text to praise all the actors in this film, but seeing the same actors continue almost all of the leading roles (there are one or two minor roles that were filled by actors who weren't in the first film) makes seeing the "group" on screen again highly entertaining for anyone who is a fan of the first film and its actors. Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman stand out as owning the most vibrant performances of the lot, though every single actor cast in this film gives the movie a worthy dramatic contribution. Director Bryan Singer has stayed true to the spirit of the original comic book, but brought those characters to life again with the same wit and appeal as the first installment.
Beyond the special effects or engaging performances, the director and filmmakers have created a sequel which stands on its own as a film worth diving into as a first time viewer of the franchise, but that also has a tangible connection to the first film. There is only a small amount of "exposition" dialogue (meaning dialogue created solely to hammer out what's going on or what has occurred in the past that the audience needs to be aware of) and it's possible that only viewers familiar with that term will recognize the few instances the story pauses for a moment to include some necessary information into its plot.
But by pause I don't mean that the movie stops in its tracks. There is really never a moment where the film does that, and for that reason, X2's two-plus hours pass far too quickly. This is quite ironic, given that this film is a good deal longer than the original and also slightly longer than usual for a feature film (that's not an historical epic). X2 stands as an improvement in the "X-Men" franchise and will doubtlessly have many people wanting to know when work will commence on another episode.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.