Was doing superhero flicks, so figured I'd add this one too
Tue, 4 January 2005
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Yet another in the recent, seemingly endless, string of movies based on characters from Marvel Comics (and many, many others are on the way) the X-Men franchise has a fanatical fan base on par with followers of the Star Wars, Star Trek or Lord of the Rings series. You know; the kind of annoying dorks who place far too much importance on all the useless information they have memorised regarding fantasy characters (like me). Pleasing these hardcore fans while still making movies that appealed to an audience unfamiliar with the comic book was never going to be an easy task. Thanks to a talented director and a terrific cast and crew they managed to do just that. And for those who do like the comics, X-Men 2 will likely be an even more enjoyable experience.
The second instalment of X-Men takes everything that made the original movie such an fun one to watch and cranks it up to eleven. Secure with the knowledge he had signed for a two-movie deal, director Brian Singer (The Usual Suspects) basically used the first X-Men to establish the characters and setting. His X2 follow up is much more action packed and a richer movie in every respect (including how much it made at the box office).
An extremely basic outline of the story is that it is set in the near future where evolution has taken a leap forward in some people. This evolutionary leap has brought about mutants, some good, some bad, with unique powers. Due to not being able to comprehend these mutants, everyday human beings tend to fear them and, therefore, hate them.
The second movie's plot is loosely based on an X-men graphic novel from 1982 called God Loves, Man Kills (Authored by comics legend Chris Claremont). It sees mutants both good and evil uniting to defeat the threat of William Stryker who is a former U.S. general intent on wiping all mutants from the face of the earth. There is an awful lot more to the story than that, with multiple branches to follow. Given the large cast of characters involved, each of whom has at least a small significant storyline of their own happening, the plot of this movie is quite hard to describe in simple terms. The only real way to do it justice is to watch it yourself. One thing worth pointing out is that not everything will make sense if you have not seen the first movie.
|A fantastic book |
One of the main things that sets X2 apart from any other comic book movies (or the majority of action movies for that matter) is the fact that it focuses on not one or two main characters, but a multitude of them. There are plenty of people to keep track of here and without the right cast and some clever writing it would be easy for some characters to get lost in the shuffle. Amazingly that never really happens, which is a credit to both the writing team and how well the majority of the actors perform their roles.
The movie boasts a great cast, not just for a comic book movie, but for any kind of movie. Most of the people from the first picture have returned, as they signed on for a two-movie deal just like Singer did. Leader of the "good guy" mutants is professor Charles Xavier played by Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: Nemesis). The leader of the "bad guys" is Magneto played by Ian McKellan (Lord of the Rings). These two men are highly respected actors and it isn't hard to see why. Brian Cox (Adaptation) is a wonderful addition as Stryker.
The other addition of note is the character of Nightcrawler, played exceptionally well by Allan Cummings (Spy Kids). The opening sequence of Nightcrawler teleporting through the Whitehouse is a great showcase of special effects at their best and one of the highlights of the movie. Once again however, the real star of the show is Wolverine, portrayed to perfection by Australia's Hugh Jackman (Van Helsing). There are many other characters and nearly every single one of them is portrayed equally well.
Ironically, what makes X2 such a cool movie could also be seen as its biggest downfall. With so many characters to keep track of the movie is quite long, clocking in at just less than 130 minutes. It also includes plenty of little things that are purely for fans of the comics. So, for people with short attention spans and those who aren't interested in the comics and may not find every character engaging, the movie might seem a touch excessive. This is a harsh criticism, but still quite a valid one.
|The hottest blue chick since Smurfette. |
Visually X2 is simply one of the most spectacular movies ever made. It is just dripping with style. A great deal of work has gone into every aspect of how the film looks. There is a clearly defined aesthetic standard; meaning nothing appears out of place. The computer effects blend perfectly with all the sets and real life stunts.
All the amazing stuff from the comics has been reproduced in a tangible, real world setting. In this regard the movie really is close to perfect. The DVD translation has not lost anything, apart from the huge screen to view it on (unless you're loaded).
The soundtrack is not quite as memorable, but is certainly not bad by any means. The only reason it doesn't stand out is because the visuals of the film are so fantastic and that's what grabs the majority of your attention. Nevertheless the music and sound effects are very fitting and well implemented. The sound is reproduced perfectly on the dvd with support for Dolby Digital 5.1.
There are plenty of extras available, depending on which version of the DVD you purchase. The version used for this review was a four-disc set, which includes the first and second X-Men movies and two bonus discs. This offers the best value for those who don't yet own the original movie. X2 can also be purchased alone with the bonus disc or as a single disc. The bonus disc is well worth checking out and comes highly recommended. It includes nearly 7 hours of extra material including deleted scenes, multi-angle fight sequences and the usual "making of" type stuff.
X2 was, until recently, my favourite comic movie and remains a must buy for the majority of comic fans. For others it is a fun, fast paced, yet quite epic film with some good acting, some wonderful visuals and a surprising amount of depth. If fantasy and action movies usually don't interest you then this one will probably not win you over. For everyone else it is well worth adding to your collection.
*Bonus Info for those who care about this kind of thing: While a third X-Men is still likely to be made, Brian Singer will not be directing the next instalment. He has agreed to direct a new Superman movie instead.
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