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X-Men 2 (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Audio commentary from director Brian Singer, composer/editor John Ottman and Tom Sigel; Audio commentary from producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, and writers Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter.
Disc Two: Featurettes: 'The Secret Origin of X-Men' and 'Nightcrawler Reborn'; 3 pre production features; 6 production documentaries; 2 post-production featurettes; 11 deleted scenes; 8 image galleries featuring over 800 pictures; 3 trailers; Marvel subscription card.

HAVING breathed new life into the ailing comic book series with X-Men in 2000, Bryan Singer here cranks things up a notch for the inevitable sequel, and succeeds in delivering another Marvel-lous slice of comic book mayhem.

Building on the potential displayed in his star-studded original, Singer sets about answering some of the questions posed by the first film, as well as introducing new characters, to make X-Men 2 a bigger, bolder, and far more darker successor, which should appeal to any fan of spectacular cinema.

X2 builds on the central theme of tolerance by taking the battle between the humans and mutants a stage further, sidelining the threat posed to their fragile co-existence by Sir Ian McKellen’s rogue mutant, Magneto, and replacing it with a human element, as personified by Brian Cox’s tyrannical William Stryker, a colonel who may hold the key to several of the X-Men’s past.

As such, the sequel functions on several levels, furthering Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) personal quest to find out about his own, tortured background, while also bringing several of the background players to the fore, as they wrestle with their own ‘super-powers’ and their place in the world.

Famke Janssen’s telepathic Jean Grey, for instance, is given a much bigger part to play, as both one part of a love-triangle and as an emerging force, while the shapely Rebecca Romijn-Stamos supplies many of the best moments as the mischievous Mystique, using her morphing ability to assist the mutants against a new enemy, while furthering Magneto’s own grand plan for world supremacy in the process.

Of the new mutants, Alan Cumming’s spectacular Nightcrawler provides a suitably conflicted, and highly religious ‘super-freak’, while Aaron Stanford’s fire-obsessed Pyro displays some nifty ability with a flame.

On the downside, some of what goes on relies too heavily on a knowledge of both the first film and the comics, while the convoluted plot occasionally gets a little too intelligent for its own good, given that this is a blockbuster.

But then Singer began life as an actor’s director and his ability to juggle the weightier ‘human’ issues with some memorable action sequences works to the film’s advantage, making it a far more emotional experience than most sequel blockbusters, and providing plenty of food for thought.

And while the tone, this time around, is very dark (prompting inevitable comparisons with the likes of The Empire Strikes Back), there is a nice line in black humour, with Jackman’s scowling Wolverine, once more, the pick of the bunch, in terms of coolness, rugged appeal and the ability to deliver a great deadpan quip.

Brian Cox, too, supplies a wonderfully sinister villain (exuding menace as a power-hungry colonel), while McKellen’s charismatic schemer hams it up for the cameras to great effect.

Of the set pieces, a prison escape and Stryker’s attack on Xavier’s School for Gifted Children provide suitably crowd-pleasing moments along the way, while Wolverine’s climactic tussle with Kelly Hu’s sadomasochistic Deathstrike is as thrilling as one would expect.

X-Men 2 may have failings, as any blockbuster has, but in terms of enjoyment, spectacle and value-for-money, this delivers in spades and remains an essential start to the crowded Summer season.

 

 

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