Thursday Night Movie Club
X2: X-Men United
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Release Date: May 2, 2003

Director: Bryan Singer
Patrick Stewart
Hugh Jackman
Ian McKellen
Halle Berry
Famke Janssen
James Marsden
Anna Paquin
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Brian Cox
Alan Cumming
Bruce Davison
Aaron Stanford
Shawn Ashmore
Kelly Hu
Katie Stuart
Professor Charles Xavier
Eric Lensherr/Magneto
Storm/Ororo Munroe
Jean Grey
Scott Summers/Cyclops
William Stryker
Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
Senator Kelly
John Allerdyce/Pyro
Bobby Drake/Iceman
Yuriko Oyama
Kitty Pryde
X2 X-Men United movie poster X2 X-Men United movie poster X2 X-Men United movie poster
Photo of Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean GreyIn just about every way possible, this movie is better than the original X-Men. However, I found I liked the original more. What is missing here is "being different". Aren't Bill Gates, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King different? This is what I found most intriguing about the original, mutants are all around us! This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a matter of interpretation.

The movie is bigger and more action-packed. The plot is even more dastardly. Allegiances change out of necessity and then change again out of convenience.

X2 starts with an assassination attempt on the President in his oval office. The attack comes from a new mutant, a teleporter that can jump from place to place in an instant. Security is useless against him. Only a lucky shot by a security guard saves the President. The "War of the Mutants" is beginning.

Photo of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique to link to the official movie website.Into the fray comes a new menace for Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men, William Stryker has uncovered the secret of Xavier's school for the gifted. A nervous President has authorized an attack on the school, with the stipulation that no one is hurt. Stryker has ulterior motives and this forms the basis for X2. All is not right with the world.

The opening third of the movie takes place on several fronts. But this is a comic book and director Singer keeps everything well grounded and easy to follow. Wolverine is still searching for answers to his past, Storm and Jean Grey are hunting down the mutant assassin, Professor X and Cyclops pay a visit to Magneto (still imprisoned in his plastic prison), and Mystique (with her ability to become any person, any time) has stumbled upon part of Stryker's plan.

When Xavier and Cyclops go missing, the adversaries from the first film must unite to save themselves and all mutants. It's an uneasy alliance, but neither side has much of a choice... they need each other.

Photo of Ian McKkellan as MagnetoThanks to a few more years in the development of digital special effects, this movie is visually amazing. The best scenes: the opening sequence, the aerial dogfight through tornadoes courtesy of Storm, Magneto's prison break, Wolverine's fight with a female version of himself, Jean Gray saving the X-Men while holding off a damn break through sheer will.

As I said previously, Bryan Singer has surpassed the original in every way imaginable (the story is more concise, the villains are nastier, the action/editing keeps you on the edge of your seat and the effects are excellent, its a bit funnier), except one... humanity. I found X-Men to be a very touching movie. The mutants are outcasts through no fault of their own. Their only crime is being different.

X2: X-Men United is all action and story. The story is great as is the action, don't get me wrong. The only sympathetic character in the movie is Mystique. Her character is developed more deeply. When asked why, "she doesn't just become someone else, blend in", her reply is simple but to the point. She says, "because we shouldn't have to." I genuinely felt sorry for her and the pain she must have suffered throughout her teenage life. It's moments like this, that are missing from X2 that made me like the first movie better.

After all, it is reaching puberty and changing into the person you will become the rest of your life that is the underlying theme behind the X-Men, unless I am missing something. We all change at the onset of puberty, in this world, some changes are more drastic. How we deal with these changes makes us all human, not mutants!