Movie Reviews: X-Men 2: United
   
 



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Studio:
     20th Century Fox (2 hr.)
Plot:
     The X-Men join an old nemesis to fight a new threat.
Cast:
     Halle Berry, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox
Rating:
     PG-13
Bottom Line:
     ****

Coverage:

The only thing I can figure is Director Brian Singer must have read my previous "X-Men" review and taken my comments to heart. Two years ago, I complained that the first X-Men movie wasn’t engaging enough or as memorable as Tim Burton’s "Batman" (‘89), and that hard-core fans will be disappointed, but will eventually embrace the film as a cult flick, while curious filmgoers will walk out of the theater and simply shrug "so what?"

Singer seems to have fixed most of those flaws in "X-Men 2: United," a much better film with a well thought out plot when compared to the original. In fact, the warning is on the label. "X-Men: United" means exactly that. United.

The do-gooder mutants: weather wiz Storm (Halle Berry), laser blasting Cyclops (James Marsden), telepathic Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), knife-wielding Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) join forces with deranged mutants Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) to fight William Stryker (Brian Cox) a paramilitary whack-job who has convinced the President that all mutants must be destroyed.

After being attacked by a Stryker-controlled mutant, the President authorizes Stryker’s mercenaries to attack the X-Men’s home (Xavier’s School for Gifted Children) and detain all the students. Meanwhile with Mystique’s help, Magneto escapes from his plastic prison and joins the X-Men to stop Stryker and convince the President that mutants can co-exist with humans.

"X-Men 2" introduces several new characters, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), a mutant who can teleport himself, Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) the female answer to Wolverine, and junior X-Men Pyro (Aaron Stanford) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) whose names are self-descriptive of their powers.

This time around, Singer manages to give the X-Men characters three-dimensionality, an element which was sadly missing in the first installment. Singer effortlessly weaves together several sub-plots: Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine’s love triangle; Iceman and Rogue’s budding love affair; and Wolverine’s search for his origins, making that part of the story a shade more than archetypal comic book fodder.

If "X-Men 2" has any flaws, it’s the fact that the ending runs about 15 minutes too long. A small sin that’s eagerly forgiven by X-Men fans who can’t get enough of a good thing.

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