Famke Janssens 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 Magnetos own grand plan for world
supremacy in the process.
Of the new mutants, Alan Cummings spectacular Nightcrawler
provides a suitably conflicted, and highly religious super-freak,
while Aaron Stanfords 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 actors director and
his ability to juggle the weightier human issues
with some memorable action sequences works to the films
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 Jackmans
scowling Wolverine, once more, the pick of the bunch, in terms
of coolness, rugged appeal and the ability to deliver a great
Brian Cox, too, supplies a wonderfully sinister villain (exuding
menace as a power-hungry colonel), while McKellens charismatic
schemer hams it up for the cameras to great effect.
Of the set pieces, a prison escape and Strykers attack
on Xaviers School for Gifted Children provide suitably
crowd-pleasing moments along the way, while Wolverines
climactic tussle with Kelly Hus 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