X2: X-Men United
Review and Media by Stu
X2: X-Men United
Original Release Date - May 2nd 2003
Hated and distrust brew between human and mutantkind. An unprovoked mutant
attack on The President gives General William Stryker his long awaited
opportunity to wage all out war against mutants. A war that would only leave one
The X-Men must unite with their old adversary Mageneto to prevent a devastating
confrontation that could destroy everyone on the planet.
Story By: Zak Penn, David Hayter & Bryan Singer
Screenplay By: Dan Harris, David Hayter & Michael Dougherty
Directed By: Bryan Synger
Music By: John Ottman
Starring: Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, Hugh Jackman as
Wolverine/Logan, Ian McKellen as Magneto/Eric Lensherr, Halle Berry as Storm,
James Marsden as Cyclops/Scott Summers, Brian Cox as Stryker, Famke Janssen as
Jean Grey, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman/Bobby Drake and Anna Paquin as Rouge
Review: Proving that not all summer
blockbusters are mindless flicks, X2: X-Men United was released in the summer of
2003 and became that year’s number one box office hit. The film is very much a
sequel to the original, only this time, it was given more time to be The X-Men
film we all wanted to see, with a budget to back it.
The film continues to set up the conflict between mutants and humans, but rather
than continue with a new mutant threat, Synger and co wisely decided to move
inward and have the villain of the piece be human. General Stryker added a great
dimension to the film and made the threat seem so much more real, rather than
simply having another mutant with a cool new power appear. In retrospect, this
film simply did everyone right that the original “sort of” did. It improved upon
every aspect, script, direction, musical score, pacing and effects, everyone
involved seemed to be having so much more energy into their work. It moves the
series along, but continues to be fun and adventurous throughout and to top it
off, they gave The X-Men new, sleeker costumes which look so much better than
they did in the original.
The pacing is still slightly problematic, and the final often doesn’t feel like
the ending to the rest of the film you’ve just sat through, but in all honestly,
it doesn’t matter. The film doesn’t feel unfinished like the original, but still
manages to set up a story for the sequel. God willing, Ratner won’t screw it up,
because this is a fine franchise, and the original 2 movies have bags of
potential which deserve follow ups.
The opening scene is especially impressive. Whilst there are a small number of
mutants I’d rather have seen introduced than Nightcrawler, he gets a fine
portrayal here, and an opening action sequence that practically tops every
action scenes in the original added together. The fights were a lot better this
time around; they seemed to finally add that oomph that was missing in the
original. A lot of Wolverine vs. Uriko was simply painful to watch, I couldn’t
help but cringe at how brutal the whole thing was, it has outstanding
choreography throughout, and a great performance of “Holy shit!” from Hugh
Performance wise, the cast seemed to grow into their roles more. Marsden was a
big improvement as Cyclops, whilst the rest upped their game. Halle Berry gets a
mention because she didn’t suck this time around.
It would be criminal to not mention Magneto’s prison break. I wondered how they
were planning to release him after I left the theatre once I saw the original,
but man, it was pure genius. I never could’ve predicted it. Even after I saw
Mystique inject the guard, when I saw Magneto lift him up, I was asking, “the
hell is going on here?” (To the chagrin of the rest of the audience I’m
afraid!). Genius. Pure genius.
The ending came as a great shock to me. I avoided all spoilers of the film, so
Phoenix’s appearance came completely out of left field. There’s was a lot of
surprises throughout, Colossus’ cameo, the names on Stryker’s computer (Franklin
Richards, Omega Red and Project Wideawake included!) but this one topped them
all. I’m glad that Synger’s not afraid to go a completely different route from
the comics, but still manages to get a lot in his films to appeal to the comic
fans. I thought Jean’s death was exceptionally executed, with outstanding
performances from both Marsden and Jackman. I look forward to seeing its
conclusion; again, providing Ratner doesn’t completely suck.
Overall, if you’re and X-Men fan or not, this is arguably going to be near the
top of your list of great superhero movies. Whilst I like the Spider-Man movies
more, I can’t deny how brilliant these X-Men films really are.
With that said, a note to Brett Ratner; Don’t screw up!
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