X-Men 2 (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/04/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 132 mins

Hugely enjoyable sequel that’s every bit as good as the first film.

With great effects, a well-written script and great performances all round, it may be the perfect comic-book movie.

Mutant Youth Attacked

The plot picks up barely a month from where the first film left off and, after an orchestrated attack on the mutant’s school, quickly divides into several different strands.

So, we have Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) uncovering repressed memories of his origin, while baby-sitting the volatile triangle of Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and flirting-with-the-dark-side Pyro (Aaron Stanford, soon to be seen in indie hit Tadpole).

There’s Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Storm (Halle Berry) tracking a mysterious creature known as Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), who attacks the President in the film’s impressive opening scene.

Finally we have Professor X and Cyclops captured by Colonel Stryker (Brian Cox); and Magneto (Ian McKellen) orchestrating a brilliant escape and wreaking havoc of his own…

Too Much To Include Everyone

Inevitably, with so much plot to keep track of, some of the characters suffer. For the most part, however, Singer keeps the action for each strand humming along nicely, although it drags a little towards the end when they all reach the underground lair.

The acting is excellent. Jackman comfortably holds the film together – he seems born to play Wolverine – though he never dominates and the other actors are all given a chance to shine, notably newcomers Stanford and Ashmore.

The stand-out, though is Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, who gives a sensitive, thoughtful performance that won’t disappoint fans.

The effects are excellent, too, striking the right balance between suitably impressive, jaw-dropping visuals and fidelity to the film’s comic-book origin – the sound effects are also impressive and very much geared towards pleasing the fans (think of Wolverine’s claws).

Most action /adventure movies stand or fall on the quality of their set-pieces and Singer doesn’t disappoint on that score – Nightcrawler’s attack on the President, the assault on the school, Pyro getting hot and bothered and especially Magneto’s brilliant escape are all definite highlights.

Not Entirely Flawless

That’s not to say the film is entirely flawless – along with Cyclops being wasted, one of the other characters (Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike) serves little purpose. Similarly, the film is a little bit too long and, sadly, the climactic fight is disappointing and over-reliant on ‘wire-fu’.

That said, the script is admirably dark and develops the characters in interesting ways, continuing and exploring themes from the first film. Crucially, it’s all played extremely straight, although one shouldn’t overestimate the ‘gravitas factor’ provided by the combined British Thesping Heavyweight Talents of Messrs Stewart, Cox and McKellen in that regard.

In short, if you liked the first film, you’ll love the second one. See it now before the world goes Matrix Bonkers in two weeks. Recommended.

Read our X-Men interview here.

Film Trailer

X-Men 2 (12A)
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Content updated: 25/09/2018 10:51

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