STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Patrick Stewart, Alan Cumming, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Kelly Hu

2003, 124 Minutes, Directed by: Bryan Singer

er and curiouser as Alice would say: a sequel that is as good as, if not better, than its predecessor is. Or at least my wife feels it is better than the original X-Men – personally, I don’t think that it is quite as thoughtful or introspective as that 2000 blockbuster. Then again, audiences have been treated to some unexpectedly good sequels to blockbusters lately: personally I think the second instalment of the Harry Potter franchise and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers both outdid their predecessors and many people agree with me on this.

X2 (or X-Men 2 to the rest of us since T2 began the unfortunate tendency to abbreviate movie titles) picks up right where the previous movie ended: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, looking more and more like a young Clint Eastwood by the day) is searching for his mysterious past and the government is still wondering how to deal with the so-called “mutant problem.” Meanwhile more characters, including a new villain, are added to the mix.

One know this is all fiction not because all mutants seem to have cool superpowers, but because in real life George W. Bush would no doubt have sent off all the mutants to concentration camps at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in violation of several international treaties.

Speaking of which, the movie kicks off with a humdinger of a scene in which a teleporting mutant with an over-the-top Germanic accent infiltrates the White House and attempts to kill the U.S. President. One of those scenes where one finds it difficult to figure out just who to root for. Incidentally, this scene is set to some of the more exciting strains of Mozart’s Requiem – attentive classical music fans will notice that Magneto (a camp Ian McKellen enjoying himself) is quite the Mozart fan.

"A sequel that is as good as, if not better, than its predecessor!"

Mag-who? That’s the rub unfortunately: if you haven’t seen the original movie or don’t remember it too well, then you’d probably be lost. In my review of the first X-Men movie, I wrote that it is no doubt setting up the scenario for future films. X2 proves this point: it assumes that you have seen the first film and plunges right into the action without explaining anything.

Be warned though that X2 quite resembles the source comic books. As a kid, I remember being nonplussed whenever picking an issue of X-Men. With other comic book titles one could always pick up on the storyline along the way, but X-Men had such a myriad of characters and sub-plots that it often proved futile trying to catch up on events. So a DVD rental is in order before watching this one then!

X2 benefits from a longer running time (to fit in all those subplots my dear!) and a bigger budget that result in some cooler special effects. Especially a wince inducing action sequence involving Wolverine battling his female opposite stands out. A sense of humour also helps. This time outsider mutanthood is being equated to homosexuality. (I always thought that the mutants were meant to symbolize geeky comic book readers, but that’s just me.) Just don’t apply any logic to any of this: there are some huge plot holes!

Ultimately, X2 manages to fit in some cool action set pieces while also paying attention to story requirements and the acting is also quite adequate. Almost as human as Spider-man and better than Daredevil, X2 ought to tide Marvel comic fans over until Hulk, er, hits the big screen. . .



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