Moviegoers with only a passing knowledge of X-Men will probably not like this sequel to 2000's successful "X-Men" movie. This latest adaptation of the comic-book series will seem like an endless series of events with no correlation. But those who know the X-Men and the work of comics creator Chris Claremont will love it.
"X2: X-Men United" will likely appeal more to fans of the comic series than to general moviegoers, says EthicsDaily.com movie reviewer Mike Parnell. (20th Century Fox)
The movie opens with an assassination attempt on the president of the United States. A mutant with the power to teleport himself from point to point is responsible. The attempt boosts the fear level among people and the government.
How do you handle people with superhuman powers? Generally, religious figures and the military feed on those fears. In "X2," it's a military man who capitalizes on fear for his own crusade.
Col. William Stryker (Brian Cox) is a special-ops commander with the money and manpower to do whatever he pleases. This attempt on the president's life gives him a chance to go after all mutants. He most wants Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart)—so he can harness Xavier's telepathic power and, via a supercomputer, kill all mutants.
"X2" brings back the same cast of X-Men: Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Iceman and Rogue. We also see new mutants, the most important being Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), who has the teleporting power. For those who look for faith in the movies, Nightcrawler is a wonderful character. His faith is not hidden, but evident. For example, before taking on a difficult task, he recites the Lord's Prayer.
The X-Men in "X2" do something that the comic placed as a hallmark: use teamwork to deal with a situation. No one character gets all the screen time; each one contributes to the effort. We also get to see Magneto (Ian McKellen) come back on the scene and unite with the X-Men, thus the title.
Being a fan of comics, I loved this movie. "X2" is a good example of a comics-based movie targeted not to the general public, but to the hardcore fan. My midnight Thursday screening was filled with people who had learned about the showing from the local comics shop. These people knew the characters and loved every moment. I sat with two friends who work at the local comics shop, and they both raved about it.
Most mainstream critics have panned "X2." Their comments reflect a lack of knowledge—of the characters, of the background—that comics fans possess.
And that is the movie's greatest weakness: You have to know so much to fully appreciate it. But, in my opinion, it is the best comics adaptation yet.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action/violence, some sexuality and brief language
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written by: Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
Cast: Logan/Wolverine: Hugh Jackman; Eric/Magneto: Ian McKellen; Storm: Halle Berry; Dr. Jean Grey: Famke Janssen; Scott/Cyclops: James Marsden; Mystique: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos; Charles Xavier: Patrick Stewart; Kurt/Nightcrawler: Alan Cumming; Bobby/Iceman: Shawn Ashmore; John/Pyro: Aaron Stanford; Rogue: Anna Paquin; Col. William Stryker: Brian Cox; Deathstrike: Kelly Hu.