X2: X-Men United Review

“Much like the first film, X2 has a great story, wonderful action, and effects that still look great.”

Continuing on with my X-Men re-watch, last night I watched X2. X2 (also known as X2: X-Men United) is a film that picks up only a few months after the events of the first X-Men film. Magneto is still in prison, Mystique is still impersonating a U.S. official, and Cyclops is still a dick. This time the X-Men have to face-off agains William Stryker (Brian Cox), a dude who hates mutants so much that he wants to use a makeshift Cerebro to kill every single one of them. As a side note, Stryker is also the dude who injected Adamantium into Wolverine, so there is also some history there. That’s pretty much it, there are some cool fights, some cool character moments, and even some new characters who do cool shit.

Speaking of cool shit, X2 opens with a really cool scene involving Nightcrawler trying to assassinate the President of the United States. This scene not only showcases Nightcrawler’s abilities, but it’s also really cool to watch. Everything about this scene is well done, from the choreography, to the effects, and even the directing. It’s also strange that almost every memorable scene from an X-Men movie happens in a government building (this and the Quicksilver scene from Days of Future Past). But past all of that, let’s get into the real meat of my review. Well, not really meat, more like a meat substitute; maybe tofu. So without further ado, let’s get into the real tofu of my review. X2 is in a  weird position because it is the middle movie in a trilogy. Much like a middle child, the middle movie in a trilogy is usually the worst. The older child was alive before any others therefore it got all of the attention, and the new child is just a baby so everyone wants to see it; all the while the middle child fades into the background. That analogy got lost on me a little bit, but my point is that usually middle-movies are less likely to be good. This is due to one simple fact: the over-arching story. The first movie sets up a giant world, the second movie then has to expand further on the world, and generally set up for the third film, and then the third film can go balls-to-the-wall with action and giant set-pieces. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally that is how it goes. The middle movie has the most responsibility, and therefore it tends to not feel like a complete movie, instead feeling like a set-up for the third instalment of the franchise. All that being said, X2 did exhibit a few of these traits throughout its story but overall I think it handled it well. The ending of the film does feel kind of anti-climactic, but the rest of the movie holds up pretty well by itself. One thing I did really like about the story of X2 was the focus on individual characters. Not only did we get to see the more benevolent side of Magneto, but we also got more of a glimpse at Wolverine’s past as well as a better look at Jean Grey. But despite the film going in depth on quite a few characters, it still managed to not get bogged-down in backstories. Instead of focusing completely on these characters, we got enough to either satisfy us or make us more interested and then the film moved on. This allowed the movie to stay light, so-to-speak, and still remain fun even for those unfamiliar with the characters.

X2, much like the first film, had effects that hold up really well. I would say that the effects in X2 were even better than in X-Men, but that is kind of pointless to say because of course they would be better. The only instances that I can remember seeing shaky CGI are in the fire effects, mainly those coming from Pyro. Fire is hard to do because, much like people, it is very recognizable when it is fake. Luckily these effects were supplemented with practical effects, and the camerawork and editing did its best to hide the mistakes. Because of the effects being so great, the action in X2 is top-notch. I mentioned before that the film is more character-focused, so we don’t get a whole lot of action scenes, but when we do get them they are wonderful. Hell, the whole second half of the move is just brimming with wonderful choreography and scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Much like when I watched X-Men, there were some things that I wasn’t a fan of in X2. First of all, where did Storm’s accent go? I already mentioned that X2 takes place only a few months after the first, so what happened to Storm’s (albeit, shitty) accent? I’m not complaining, because not only was it really subtle but it wasn’t very good, but it’s just weird to have it completely disappear. The next gripe I have with X2 is very pedantic, but it bothered my a lot when it happened. Toward the beginning of the film Wolverine returns home from his trip to Alkali Lake and Rogue rushes to greet him. Iceman comes sauntering up behind her and tries to assert his dominance to Wolverine, him being Rogue’s boyfriend and all. This is fine, and it’s really funny to watch, but what gets me is the fact that Iceman and Wolverine act like they haven’t met before. At the end of this scene Iceman walks off with a “Nice to meet you” and that was the final nail in the coffin for me. Did the writers forget the Iceman was in the first movie? Not only was he in the first movie, but he was a pretty big part of it. He essentially was the only student that interacted with Rogue, and therefore acted as the gatekeeper for the rest of the school (for lack of a better term). In fact, Iceman was so important in the first movie that Mystique impersonated him. So not only was he definitely in the first movie, but him and Wolverine shared a few scenes. Granted I don’t know if they ever spoke, but even seeing each other counts as meeting one another right? This interaction in X2 was so weird to me that I just had to discuss it.

Overall X2 is another great instalment in the X-Men franchise. Much like the first film, X2 has a great story, wonderful action, and effects that still look great. The story was structured a little weird due to the fact that it was setting up for the third film, but luckily that didn’t get in the way too much.

I give X2 an A

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