Preview by: Jack Foley
THE battle has barely begun for Box Office supremacy this Christmas,
yet the first shots are already being fired for next year's blockbusters.
Already, we have the prospect of the Matrix
sequels, the latest from Harry Potter and, of course, the final
installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy - but there is plenty
more to look forward to.
In terms of sequels, few come much bigger than X-Men 2, the follow-up
to one of the biggest hits of 2000. And the good news is that
all of the components which helped to make the original such a
success, are largely back in place.
Bryan (The Usual Suspects)
Singer is once again directing, while superhero favourites Wolverine
(Hugh Jackman), Rogue (Anna Pquin), Storm (Halle Berry), Jean
Grey (Famke Janssen) and, of course, Dr Xavier (Patrick Stewart)
will be fighting the evil likes of Sir Ian McKellen's malevolent
Magneto and some even nastier villains.
Very little is known about the plot at the moment, but Internet
movie site, Movies.com, indicates that the mutants will be faced
with even more discrimination after an unforeseen enemy - possibly
a mutant with extraordinary powers - launches an attack, prompting
renewed support for the Mutant Registration Act.
Enter Brian (Manhunter) Cox's William Stryker, a military leader
who is rumored to have experimented on mutants (including, possibly,
Wolverine), who plans to eradicate the mutants and begins his
own offensive on the X-Men mansion and school.
The offensive forces Magneto, who has escaped from his plastic
prison, to form an unlikely alliance with Professor Xavier, while
an increasingly angry Wolverine heads north to investigate his
According to Singer (in an interview with Entertainment Weekly,
recently), X-Men 2 promises to be 'a little more intense than
the last one' and has been compared to another dark middle chapter,
The Empire Strikes Back. Posters and teaser trailers are already
starting to appear, while the official X-Men 2 website is now
up and running (and can be accessed via the link above).
As well as featuring most, if not all, of the original cast members,
the sequel also boasts a dazzling array of goodies and baddies.
Lining up with Wolverine and co, is John 'Pyro' Allerdyce (Aaron
Stanford, of Tadpole fame), who
can manipulate fire, while appearing for the dark side is Yuriko
Oyama (pictured right, and played by Kelly Hu), who is described
by Singer as 'part of a new breed of bad... very bad'.
According to the comic source, Yuriko is described as 'Lady Deathstryke'
and while the movie has no plans to refer to her in that way,
Singer maintains that she will certainly earn that reputation,
appearing as a bitter adversary to Wolverine, even though they
share a similar trait (that of claws).
Speaking at a recent press conference to launch the movie, Singer
went on to promise that audiences will 'get to see everybody's
weaker side', much in the same way as they did with the aforementioned
Empire Strikes Back, while Jackman (the breakaway star of the
first film) maintained that Wolverine's 'personal demons are really
X-Men 2 enjoyed a simultaneous release date in the UK and US
and has, thus far, generated some pretty good reviews on both
sides of the Atlantic.
Aside from being IndieLondon's movie of the week, it also struck
a chord with the likes of Village Voice, which described
it as 'funny, reasonably crazy, and unpretentiously faithful to
Philadelphia Weekly felt that it was 'a significant improvement
over the original in nearly every way', while Planet Sick-Boy
proclaimed that, 'for once, the trailers don't lie... this is
really good better than the first, actually, and maybe
even in the same company as Spider-Man'.
Entertainment Weekly awarded it a near-perfect B+ and
wrote that it 'sparkles with a lightness of spirit that was missing
from 'X-Men', while E! Online went one better, with a straight
A, and the verdict, 'the X-Men franchise
has gone two for
two in getting it just right'.
The New York Post, meanwhile, referred to it as 'a lavish,
reasonably intelligent, well-acted sequel, with kick-butt effects
that outdoes its predecessor
in almost every department'.
It awarded the film an impressive three out of four.
And the New York Times felt that it 'succeeds pretty well
in rising to the challenge that most sequels face'.
Variety felt that it was 'about twice as good as the original',
while Hollywood Reporter felt that it 'explodes with ass-kicking
style and sass'.
Less impressed, however, was LA Weekly, which wrote that
'neither [Singer] nor the actors onscreen seem to be having much
fun', while Film Threat felt that 'what the movie needs
more than anything is a script'.
Worse still, Slant Magazine opined that it 'fails in almost
every way you can think of'.
But the negative notices were few and far between, with the majority
hailing Singer's blockbuster as the first genuine event movie
of the Summer season and a must-see for any fan of the franchise.
Hollywood.com, for instance, furthered the accolades,
by writing that 'X2: X-Men United is a thoroughly intriguing sequel
in the X-Men series, a pure adrenaline ride. But with a weighty
- and very important - message attached, the film also makes you
The Montreal Film Journal, meanwhile, summed it up, perfectly,
as 'first-rate popcorn cinema and a superfly awesome kick-off
to the summer movie season', while the Washington Post
felt that it 'moves with the lightning speed, raw power and athletic
grace of, well, a genetically mutated superhero'.
And, finally, the Los Angeles Times draws this round-up
to a close, by writing that X2 is 'brisk and involving with a
streamlined forward propulsion, it's the kind of superhero movie
we want if we have to have superhero movies at all'.
Follow the links on the right of this page to discover our verdict
on the sequel.