Monday, 23 May 2011

X2: X-Men United Review

It is rare for a sequel to be better than the original.  This is especially true for most action and comic book movies.  In the case of the X-Men franchise, they were able to pull it off.  While I enjoyed X-Men, X2 is vastly superior for the following reasons.
  1. It is more intense.  For an action sequel to be better, it has to have an element of darkness that the previous movie did not have.  X2 does this very well with the sinister plot by William Stryker to rid the world of the mutants.  It reverses the roles of the humans and the mutants morally and has the audience relate better to their opposites.  The darkness is furthered by utilizing a creepy little girl in the hallucinations forced by Stryker.  It really makes your skin crawl a little.  X2 does this so well that you never mind that the movie is over 2 hours long.
  2. The action is better.  Whether or not the producers held back with the first one to allow them to do more with the second one or not is irrelevant.  X2 has better action sequences.  I especially thought Storm's weather control was better with this one.  And I really like Pyro's fireballing of the Boston police.
  3. X2 introduces cool characters.  Most comic book movies use the best characters in the first films and they get worse as the franchise grows.  With X2, they introduce a really cool mutant, the Nightcrawler, which is played brilliantly by Alan Cumming.  I grew up with a grandmother from Germany so I know his accent is pretty authentic.  He also plays him in such a way that really makes you pity and love him.  The second really cool character is Stryker.  But this level of coolness would have been lost if they hadn't had Bryan Cox play the part.  Cox is absolutely brilliant when he plays self-serving bad guys.
  4. They focused on the good from the first one and let the subpar stuff go to the background.  From the first movie, it looked like the franchise was going to put a focus on Rogue and Iceman.  This would have been a huge mistake and they (thankfully) put Anna Paquin in the background.  She may be a good actress but she just can't seem to deliver in these kinds of movies.  Instead, they focus on their core of Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey (who oddly enough does not have a cool name).  They also further the animosity between Xavier and Magneto which is what made the first one so good.  That leads me to my last point:
  5. A good franchise sequel has its own story that can stand on its own while still progressing the underlying big picture of the whole franchise.  X2 does this.  The story of uniting rival mutant factions against a common enemy works and is played out great.  But they still reveal more of the underlying story of the origins of Wolverine and his tortured soul in a plot the is woven together well.
 Put all of this together and you have a very, good action/comic book movie.  See it.  But make sure you watch the first one before diving into this.  Then you can focus on the good qualities of this film without trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

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