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X2: X-Men United

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Bryan Singer
Hugh Jackman
Patrick Stewart
Ian McKellan
Halle Berry
Brian Cox
Bottom Line: 

 As I believe that this site's Canadian member (and very funny guy) Annoyed Grunt once remarked, "There are fewer things in life better than watching the ol' Canucklehead in action." Or it was something like that! And here, we see far more of Wolverine in his full-on berserker mode, wiping out scores of soldiers with his uncompromising death moves. Plus we also see a spot-on representation of Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler, and the metamorphosis of the beautiful Famke Janssen from Jean Grey into Dark Phoenix.
This sequel really is like the original comic as I recall it (although to be fair, I haven't read it since Claremont left). My big problem with the original X-Men feature film is that it comes across as more of an A-Z of the X-Men for non-Marvel readers, and that for me personally, it just feels way too slow in pace and henceforth, not much like the source material at all. Now that the basic premise and character introductions have been made, this superior sequel just goes for it - providing a storyline of almost epic proportions.
The film's opening sequence where we're first introduced to the Nightcrawler character and his bamfing teleportations is a genuine show-stopping moment. The computer work here fascinates, even on repeated viewings. Another stand-out moment is definetly when Magneto escapes from his 100 foot drop plastic cell with the aid of three small metal spheres only. Yes, this film feels and looks just like a comic, and the pleasing pace is unrelenting. Once again, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine manages to steal the film but hey, the comic was always like that for me anyway!
There are a few minor criticisms to be made such as the wasted use of the Lady Deathstryke character (no mention is made of her Logan related past, she's a very one-dimensional villain, and hey, did she ever actually have healing abilities?), and sorry but I have never liked the fact that Mystique is naked or the seemingly Jubilee based representation of Rogue. However whilst the Deathstryke character is badly wasted, there's no doubting that the confrontation between her and Wolvie is very exciting stuff indeed.
X2 provides a very impressive ensemble cast headed by the (deservedly!) respected likes of Brian Cox, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Jackman's Wolverine is PERFECTION yet again, only this time he's almost matched by Cumming's impressive Nightcrawler portrayal. We get to see Cyclops fight in hand to hand combat, Storm creating a massive weather disturbance rather than just the usual bolt of lightning, much more of Bobby Drake (Iceman), and it's pleasing to see Pyro choose allegiance to the dark side that his comic character always belonged to anyway.
I haven't mentioned the storyline but it's actually fairly basic stuff - mainly the serious risk of further degradation of relations between the "normal" folk and the mutants, and the ever present threat of legislation identifying and discriminating against such people. There's obviously film parallels between the recent US distrust of foreigners after the 9/11 tragedy, and the "coming out" mutant scene is clearly a thinly disguised analogy for homosexual or lesbian individuals having to admit their sexual orientation to their families.
Unsurprisingly, the anamorphic (well, natch) picture quality is excellent, as is the DTS sound (5.1 is also provided for folks still yet to upgrade). Oddly enough, this sequel has been released in two seperate packages, one or two disc. I'd be very surprised to hear of impressive sales of the one disc set though, so I'm not at all sure as to what the point of this unusual experiment was? The one disc release only offers commentary tracks as extras but the two-disc set offers lots of fun for the casual or serious *cough* X-Men fan. Here's a quick list of the extras and featurettes with some approximate running times:
Two commentary tracks, deleted scenes, galleries and trailers.
The origin of Marvel's X-Men (15 mins)
Nightcrawler Reborn (8 mins)
A multi-angle look at the opening scene with Nightcrawler
X2 set design (18 mins)
The costumes (9 mins)
Wolverine/Deathstryke fight rehearsal footage (90 secs)
The making of X2 (60 mins)
A creation of Nightcrawler featurette (10 mins) Nightcrawler stunt rehearsals (2 mins)
Nightcrawler's make-up application time-lapsed (4 mins)
Visual effects (25 mins)
Scoring X2 (11 mins)
Webcast highlights (17 mins)
Lots of great extras here! Surprisingly, the second commentary track with the producer and the writers is a lot more enjoyable than the one with Singer and his cinematographer, but I still thoroughly enjoyed listening to both. And I must confess that I enjoyed this film a great deal more at home than at the cinema (God bless home entertainment systems). This is a great package for a very enjoyable comic adaption and it's highly recommended to all fans of the comic genre or action/fantasy movies in general.
Well done to 20th Century Fox and , more to the point, congratulations to Bryan Singer and his team. Now roll on the solo Wolverine movie and X-Men 3 - I can't wait!

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