Considering how much I love comic book movies, it may seem odd that all the X-Men films are fairly close together and rather low on my list. The X-Men are a memorable superhero team, but their world is one of very realistic strife, which, while timely, sometimes detracts from the fun of watching people with superpowers. They’re also more edgy and violent than Marvel’s other properties. Nevertheless, this sequel to the first X-Men is the best of the bunch with many layers to the plot and characters.
Director Bryan Singer pulls off an amazing balancing act as he crams so many characters into one film. There’s Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellan), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Storm (Halle Berry), Cyclops (James Marsden), Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Pyro (Aaron Stanford), Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), and a sinister Brian Cox as the bad guy William Stryker. Compare this list with any other superhero film’s cast, and one cannot help but admire the skill it took to handle such an expansive and varied ensemble. While some stand out more than others, every character is given a scene to shine, from Wolverine’s awesome showdown with his female counterpart to Pyro’s flame assault to Jean’s climactic sacrifice. (For the record, Cyclops remains the least developed, having little personality other than his unremarkable relationship with Jean. The third film didn’t help that.)
The filmmakers also made some laudable decisions in what they included. Stryker was originally a mutant-hating reverend in the graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, but they avoided religious demonizing by making him a rogue military man instead. Plus, religion actually gets a good word from Nightcrawler, who follows an inexplicable mention of angelic symbols from Gabriel with a praiseworthy defense of faith.
The movie admittedly feels very long, but it builds to a marvelous cliffhanger that made everyone look forward to the next film. That next film was X-Men: The Last Stand, which I consider one of the worst movies I’ve seen, offering extremely unsatisfying conclusions for three separate characters (though one has been resurrected for Days of Future Past). Needless to say, you won’t see Last Stand on this list, but X2 remains an impressive achievement among comic book films and the best X-Men film so far (though I’ll be seeing Days of Future Past soon).Best line: (Nightcrawler) “Someone so beautiful should not be so angry.” (Storm) “Sometimes anger can help you survive. “ (Nightcrawler) “So can faith.”
Artistry: 7 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 8 Visual Effects: 8 Originality: 7 Watchability: 6 Other (violence): -3 TOTAL: 39 out of 60
Next: #229 – Brave Little Toaster
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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