X2: X-Men United (2003) a.k.a. X-Men 2

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X2: X-Men United (2003) a.k.a. X-Men 2

Post  BoG on Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:06 am

The 1st sequel to X-Men (2000), with most of the cast and director Bryan Singer returning.  The 1st sequence takes place in the White House: we are introduced to the mutant Nightcrawler (in the comics, one of the new X-Men 1st depicted in 1975, played here by Alan Cumming), a demonic-looking teleporter who manages to get to the President (Cotter Smith) despite all the secret servicemen. He has a knife, but it seems like he only intended to deliver a message - something about keeping mutants free. The scene switches to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), wandering in the snowy wilderness, checking up on clues provided to him by Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) at the end of the first film in regard to his lost memory. Speaking of Xavier, he shows us just how powerful he really is in the next scene: freezing a hundred people at a mall in their tracks effortlessly (so that he and his students can leave discreetly). That's the issue with this entry in the X-Men franchise - the power of mutants and the threat they pose to normal humanity. Yes, such X-Men face prejudice and fear, but maybe with good reason; if someone like Xavier can control multitudes of people as just depicted, shouldn't the general populace have reason to fear?
The one who seems most concerned about this issue is Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox), a government agent who has determined that Xavier's School is a mutant-training facility, information he gained via his interrogation of Magneto (Ian McKellen), who had been captured at the end of the previous film. As will be revealed, Stryker has a long history with Wolverine and younger versions of the character will appear in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and X-Men:Days of Future Past (2014). In this film, he is aided by Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), who turns out to be like a female version of Wolverine. Stryker has a lot of personal issues about mutants, related to his son and his wife's death; he wants them all dead and had brainwashed Nightcrawler into the attack so that the President would give Stryker a lot of latitude. He captures Xavier & Cyclops and attacks the school, taking it despite the efforts of Wolverine, the only adult there at that moment. Stryker's plan is to use Xavier and Cerebro, a mutant-locating device, to wipe out all mutants on the planet.

Not everything goes as Stryker plans: Magneto manages to escape his prison with help from Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) and teams up with his former adversaries, the X-Men. Mystique, btw, had been impersonating a senator (Bruce Davison) who had been killed in the last film. They invade Stryker's secret underground base, where Wolverine has his inevitable vicious clash with Deathstrike and gets some tidbits about his past. There's also a subplot with Jean, in that she shows signs of much greater power than what we are accustomed to seeing. Usually, she had been limited to levitating human-sized objects, but there are moments here when she does quite a bit more. It's as if some dormant abilities in her are being awakened, and this is probably further aggravated by the pressures placed on her during this adventure. It all culminates with a dam breaking and a sacrifice being made, a sobering, depressing conclusion.
Magneto, as will become usual, always has his own agenda and takes the plot into unexpected directions. Not only is he ruthless, willing to do things for the sake of mutants that Xavier will not, but he's also a bastard, an s.o.b. - witness the scene of him smirking at Rogue (Anna Paquin), whom he almost killed in the previous film. In the next moment, Magneto spells out his world view in conversation with young recruit Pyro; in his view, mutants are gods among the human insects, who are just bothersome. McKellen livens up these X-Men films, even as his character seems to enforce all the fears that the public has about his kind.  But the big fear, unexpectedly, stems from the abilities of Xavier, who, it is shown, can wipe out the entire population of the world under the right (or wrong) circumstances. So, when the film comes around full circle in the President's office, it's not an accident that the so-called heroes, The X-Men, come across as sinister.  It suggests no comforting endgame. Next was the conclusion of the trilogy in X-Men:The Last Stand (2006), without director Singer. BoG's Score: 8 out of 10

X-Trivia: Hank McCoy (Steve Bacic) appears in human form for a few seconds on a TV; his role - as the Beast - would be greatly expanded in the next film, played by Kelsey Grammer; there was also the first appearance of Colossus/Peter Rasputin (Daniel Cudmore) in a small role; he would also return in the next film, in a slightly expanded role. No Stan Lee cameo in this one.
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