Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Brian Cox, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Alan Cumming, Kelly Hu, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Bruce Davison
With the possible exception of Matrix Reloaded, X2 is the most eagerly anticipated sequel of the year. And the good news is that this sequel to X Men lives up to the hype and the expectations – it is bigger, better and more fun than the original. It is also one of the better comic book adaptations to hit the screens in recent times! X2 also leaves audiences wanting more – audiences will leave the cinema eagerly awaiting the inevitable third film in this series based on the popular Marvel comic book.
Director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, etc) returns at the helm, and proves himself a dab hand at directing spectacular special effects sequences and action scenes. He certainly delivers the goods with this sequel – there are some superb action sequences and fabulous special effects, culminating in a spectacular finale inside a huge dam somewhere in the snowy Alaskan wilderness – and all of the rumoured $120 million plus budget can be seen on the screen.
Without having to waste too much time introducing the characters and their various superpowers this time, Singer and co can leap straight into the action. Singer and his team of writers manage to imbue the film with a hint of paranoia that perfectly captures the uneasy tenor of current events. Embittered general William Stryker (Brian Cox, from Manhunter and The Bourne Identity, etc) wants to rid the world of all the extraordinarily gifted humans branded as mutants. An attack on the White House by the mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), who is able to use teleportation to move at lightning speeds, gives Stryker the excuse he needs to launch an attack on Professor Xavier’s school and begin his government-sponsored campaign of mutant genocide. Xavier’s unusually talented students and teachers are reluctantly forced to ally themselves with their arch nemesis Magneto (Ian McKellen), who is still imprisoned in his plastic cell, to try and defeat Stryker.
Unusually for a sequel of this magnitude, all of the original cast return, and slip into their roles with ease. Hugh Jackman further cements his star status with his charismatic performance here, and he exudes animal magnetism as the tormented anti-hero Wolverine, still searching for the truth about his past. Rumours abound that the character will get his own movie, and he certainly deserves it! Patrick Stewart lends authority to his role as Xavier, the mentor of the mutants who teaches them to control their powers and use them to protect the world from danger. McKellen again gives a silky, sinister quality to the evil Magneto, who has his own agenda to pursue. As the villain of the piece here, Cox is well-cast, and delivers plenty of menace and chilling one-liners.
Many of the familiar characters are given expanded roles, while some new characters from the comic book series, like Pyro, Colossus, and Nightcrawler, are introduced to audiences. There is also the hint of romance between some of the X Men that adds an emotional undercurrent to the action.
There has been a dearth of first rate, big budget action films of late, but X2 certainly fills a cinematic hole. That is, until Matrix Reloaded hits our screens in a few short weeks!