[MOVIE REVIEW]More mutant fun makes X-Men sequel DNA-OK“X-Men 2” picks up right where the original left off in a sequel that is bigger, louder, more exciting and more layered than the original.
Magneto (Ian McKellen) is in his plastic prison. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is traveling to northern Canada in search of answers about his unknown past. Jean Gray (Famke Janssen) finds her powers strangely amplified in the aftermath of the last film. And in the center of it all is the imperturbable Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), still trying to teach his students to adjust to their strange powers and the rest of the world to adjust to his strange students.
A mutant’s attack on the president of the United States leaves the country in an uproar and inspires politicians to hand over more power to the mysterious and villainous General William Stryker (Brian Cox).
Stryker takes advantage of his power to launch a full-out assault on Xavier and his school for gifted youngsters.
Before long, the X-Men find that they need to work together with Magneto and his evil cohorts in order to save mutant-kind from Stryker’s unpleasant plans. But it is only a detente, and they dare not trust the megalomanical mutant.
Without having to worry about backstory, “X-Men 2” charges ahead full speed. The director, Bryan Singer, however, never loses sight of the characters and their essential humanity. One of the major points of the X-Men, in whatever medium, is the alienation of young people, coming to grips with the changes of growing older, with fear and the desire to be accepted.
Symbolic of these issues is a young mutant who can control fire. Magneto asks the boy his name, and he says “John.” Magneto says no, and asks him for his “real” name. “Pyro,” the boy answers.
Much more so than the comic, the movie draws a line between those mutants who define themselves by their powers and those who consider themselves to be people first, but just happen to have fantastic abilities. It is a most intriguing approach.
With 30 years of history to draw from, “X-Men 2” liberally mixes and matches elements from throughout the comic book, but concentrates mostly on the Chris Claremont era of the 1980s.
If anything, Mr. Singer touches on too many aspects of the X-Men’s past. While die-hard fans will appreciate the glimpses of Kitty Pryde and Colossus (among others), Mr. Singer threatens at times to overwhelm the average viewer with information. But most of the time, the rich tapestry of the X-Men just makes for a more involving movie.
The best could be yet to come, however, as there are hints that should there be an “X-Men 3,” it could draw on the greatest saga of the comic book’s history.
by Mark Russell