6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2004
At last - a 2003 sequel which is better than the original. This film clearly has a much higher budget than the first X-men, which itself is a very good film. However, Bryan Singer has not made the time-honoured mistake of substituting effects for script.
X-men 2 begins without much progress from the first film, as Magneto is still a prisoner of the government. Magneto is being systematically tortured into revealing all the secrets that both he and Xavier have. An attempt is then made on the life of the US president, which is the ticket for the psychotic Stryker to launch a full-scale war on the mutant population. The school is attacked, and much of the rest of the film focuses on the attempts of the X-men to regroup, and to stay alive. An uneasy alliance forms between the X-men and Magneto's acolytes, as they fight to save themselves from extinction.
Although the effects are thankfully subservient to the script, this simply illustrates how good the script must be, because the effects are simply amazing. The Nightcrawler sequence is absolutely phenomenal, and makes one wonder exactly how the humans have any chance whatsoever of fighting any one mutant with well-developed powers. I particularly enjoyed the fight between Wolverine and his female nemesis. Special mention must also go to the music - I have never heard Mozart choreographed so well to the action in any film.
I hope there are many more X-men films in the pipeline. There is decades of good comic book material for the producers to use, and one can only hope that they continue making films of this quality. I have found that it is possible to watch this film several times, which makes it an ideal DVD purchase. The film should also be capable of being enjoyed by a wide selection of the population - it's not just for comic book geeks, folks!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2004
In the year 2003 the movie industry subjected us to a year full of sequels. Out of the many that I saw, X-Men 2 was the only one that was worth waiting for. The first film felt as if it was introducing the world of X-Men and it's characters. As director Bryan Singer says in the DVD version, in the sequel he is able to produce a real X-Men movie. Also there is less cheesy dialogue in this script.
In the last film we only got a brief glimpse as to what had happened to Wolverine in his past. This film goes deeper into past and explains part (not all) of how he came to be. It also develops the love triangle of Wolverine-Jean Grey-Cyclops.
The film opens up with an excellent special-effects scene with an assassination attempt on the president. The scene is a taster of the action and effects to come. Yet the special effects do not take anything from film; they complement it and are used when necessary. The last film did not seem to have many characters so this one introduces new ones without making it too much of a special effects bonanza or slowing the plot down. It is also interesting to see how many characters from the cartoon/comic you can spot during the film.
One of the more enjoyable parts of this film are the performances by the cast. Brian Cox gives an excellent performance as the bad guy. He gives you a perspective into the "mutant problem" and has a real motive for his actions rather than just a plain evil baddie. Hugh Jackman once again delivers as the confused and short-tempered Wolverine but it's the performance of Aaron Stanford as Pyro is most enjoyable as a teenage rebel.
The film is an interesting study of peoples attitudes and way of thinking, not just in the way that the humans fear and hate the mutants but also of what each character thinks of one another.
The DVD has all the usual extras for a 2-disc special edition: deleted scenes, commentaries, subtitles, trailers, making-of documentaries, interviews, picture galleries, etc. Enough to keep anybody happy if they wish to look through the extras.
On the whole this film is a well adapted film that tells a good story that is believable and gripping. The plot goes along at a good pace, it never feels boring or tedious and the action scenes are well directed. The film stays pretty much true to the comic so X-Men fans will feel satisfied and general movie-goers will see a film that at least equals the first film.
This film is well-made, well-acted and most enjoyable. I recommend this DVD.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2003
X Men 2 was very much as good, if not better, as the first. Bryan Singer seemed much more comfortable with the original characters who's background were developed in the first film and the adition of Nightcrawler was a particular hit who allied with the good guys made a formidable team.
The effects were excellent and the storyline zipped along with twists that kept it entertaining throughout. The ending has left the way clear for another film which if made in a similar vein should see this franchise continuing for some time, particularly as the cast by all acounts had so much fun making it. Cant wait for X Men X!.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The first X-Men film introduced not just the main characters, but also the raison d'être of mutant elders Magneto and Xavier. Magneto considers the mutants to be an improvement over 'standard' humans - the next evolutionary step and the future ruling race. Xavier wants harmony between both mutants and non-mutants but, as for society in general - debate continues but many politicians use fear to promote their argument that all mutants should be registered and viewed as a potential threat to security. These are uncertain times for those who possess powers beyond normal human capabilities, especially when Colonel Stryker seizes a chance to kill all mutants, a move with much support after a failed mutant attempt on the president's life.
The first film was lumbered with dragging the X-Men comic baggage to the big screen, but it pulled it off and the result was incredibly effective - those unfamiliar with the comics didn't feel like outsiders, and long-time fans could enjoy the knowing nods to established heritage and marvel (pardon the pun) at the live action version of their heroes. This sequel is darker in tone and the political messages surrounding the responsibility of the military in social affairs alongside a sobering reflection on genocide, remain after the credits have rolled and feel more poignant in a post September 11th world.
Before, we were given a simplistic plot which was enhanced by great character stories, the story this time is much more involved but we still get the developing characterisations, this may run for over two hours but it certainly doesn't drag. Wolverine is clearly the lead character and although efforts are made to ensure he always remains cool, his role as guardian gives him added depth, and a warmth which hints at an inner softy. Wolverine might provide the awesome but the scenery chewing Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen once again give superb performances, their shared scenes are what raise this from being a very good film, into a great film. The two know how to deliver a line with an intensity which is frankly mesmerising. Magneto's plastic cell and the care taken to keep him there mean that he doesn't look like any old villain, his powers represent a true threat.
The Blu-Ray release looks excellent, the improvement compared to DVD is significant and where high-definition showed flaws in the special effects in the first film, it simply enhances them here. The special features are a disappointment and the bonuses included in the special edition DVD are lacking here, aside from commentaries and trailers there's not much to get excited about.
In a nutshell: Over the last ten years or so there have been many comic-to-film features - this easily ranks as one of the best, it's just a shame the quality didn't continue into X-Men 3! This contains some superb performances, surprisingly allegorical plot, and one of the best prison break scenes in movie history (second only to Hannibal Lector's escape in Silence Of The Lambs). If I were to get hung up on special features then I'd probably give this a 4, but considering the film is among (and possibly is) the best of the Marvel features, I've given it a 5.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I can think of very few films which manage to tick all the boxes of powerful character-led drama, a relentless all-action plot, gorgeous special effects AND sharp social satire the way that this one manages to. Under the guise of a comic-book superhero movie, we get the music of Mozart and the literature of T.H. White as crucial plot elements as well as an action hero (Hugh Jackman's Wolverine) to put Jean-Claude and Arnie to shame and the finest tortured gothic anti-heroine (Anna Paquin's wonderful Rogue) since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The first thing that struck me about this film was how on earth the studio ever allowed it to be put out, given the thinly-veiled references to the western world in the aftermath of 9/11. The allegory of the "Mutant registration act" and of the deranged Pentagon scientist advocating the total destruction of a new and unquantifiable "menace" surely couldn't have been lost on the boardroom bigwigs; so perhaps there's some cultural merit in a film which very much puts the case in favour of the vilified underclass! Without getting too highbrow, though, this is also a ripping yarn in the grand tradition. From the opening rampage of Alan Cumming's camp blue Nightcrawler through the White House to the inevitable destruction of the evil Colonel Stryker's military research base, the action doesn't let up for a minute. The mutant medley pull off a whole host of fantastic special effects from conjuring up walls of ice to diverting missiles in mid-air. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen ham their way gloriously through the script as the elder statesmen of mutantkind, and Brian Cox's Stryker is the kind of terrifying fusion of Blofeld and Dr. Strangelove who gives you moments of real anxiety for the future of our planet.
As with its prequel though, it's the depth of the lead characters and the richness of their performance together which really makes the film. With all the action that's going on, there is still time to focus in some depth on the inner lives of the characters: Wolverine's quest to regain his memories and find his identity, Jean Grey's fear of her ever-developing powers, Pyro's doomed descent from teenage rebel to villain in the making, Ice-Man's attempts to be accepted by his parents, and Rogue's unfulfilled need for companionship and love. Everyone (except perhaps the still woefully under-used Cyclops) has their moment to shine. The outstanding performance of the piece is inevitably Ian McKellen's, as mutant arch-villain Magneto: one of those rare things, a villain whose motivation is entirely understandable as you see how he is driven to his militancy.
It's rare to find this kind of depth in any film designed, on the surface, for mass-market appeal, so all credit to Bryan Singer and his team for such an astonishing piece of cinema. Whether or not you're seeing allegorical Bin Ladens or Donald Rumsfelds in the cast and storyline, as I was, you'll be left with a lot to think about, above and beyond the incredible special effects. A triumph.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2005
As a fairly avid Xmen fan (well not so far as to go round hunting out the various Xmen comics you can get, but happy to sit through the cartoon series), I was quite pleased with the first film. The backgrounds of each character was well covered and when I finished watching the movie I had that 'yeah ... that was good' feeling. The sequel, however, had an entirely different reaction with me. I was quite blown away! The sequel here is light years ahead of the first movie. In hindsight, the first movie appears to be just a good scene setter, a nice introduction, the first chapter in what could turn out to be a really decent series (unless things go the way of the Batman movies!). With no need to introduce the characters this time round, the plot comes to the fore. Plenty of twists turns and drama to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The humans vs mutants storyline comes to the fore with this movie, the complex underlying storylines are a joy, the main one of the attempt to eradicate the mutants, Mystique floating around under her own agenda setting key events in motion that bring (in a novel twist) Magneto and Professor Xavier together in a single aim of saving the mutants. Hugh Jackman is again perfect in the role of Wolverine, delving deeper into his past and the source of all those nightmares he suffers in the first movie come to light. The pacing is excellent throughout the film, some of the set pieces (a cracking fight with Wolverine at the end of the movie, and Magneto & the plastic prison) are great viewing. Everything is much more polished than the first movie. It feels fuller, it looks better and is generally more accomplished. Fantastic cliffhanger and scope for a third movie, lets just hope the directing standard stays the same and we manage to retain the actors used to date (I've heard that Mariah Carey might be in for the role of Storm for the next one ... taking that one with pinch of salf though!).
For those that were quite happy with the first movie, I can thoroughly recommend this. For those who haven't seen the first and haven't experienced the Xmen series, give it a go. But consider getting the double pack editions of this that are out there. You can get Xmen1.5 (the special edition of the 1st movie) and Xmen 2 all together in one package. Anyone pleased with the likes of The Matrix or Spiderman will be right at home with this.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
It's rule of thumb sequels rarely equal the original. Even when they do, the fans are general a bit jaded, knowing what to expect on the second go around, so even if it is as good, it's not as fresh. Expectations can really hurt a film. Everyone is so excited they often expect MORE, and so are let down no matter how good the film is. So going in, sequels have a hard road. When one is as good it's rare; when it's BETTER that is unbelievable. WEll, believe it - X 2 is even better.
The characters are set, so this film gives the chance to explore them a little deeper. Glad to say the whole cast is back. Super fun to see Gandolf being a bad guy! Ian McKellan is back as Magneto the mutant who sees the destruction of mankind as the only way for the mutants to survive. Patrick Stewart is Professor Charles Xavier, the kindly mentor who has a safe haven for mutants and works for their betterment for all. Back also are Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine; Halle Berry magnificent as Storm; Famke Janssen as Jean Grey and Bruce Davison as Senator Kelly . Also, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique, Magneto's new sidekick, Brian Cox (the first Hannibal Lector) as Striker, his mutant killer Yuriko Oyama is played well by Kelly Hu and super addition is Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler. The whole cast does a wonderful job.
When we last saw Magneto, he'd been imprisoned within a plastic jail, since any metal can be reformed and used by him. Everyone was happy at the school run by Xavier, while Logan was off trying to figure out his past. The Senator was now a mutant.
After the Nightcrawler attacks the president in a protest for Mutant's rights, Striker is able to pressure the president into a campaign against Xavier's School, playing right into Magneto's plans. Short order, Mystique has Magneto free, but Xavier has been taken by Strike who is trying to manipulate him into killing all the mutants. Thus in a switch, the good mutants must work with Magneto to free Xavier.
It's lightning pace, wonderful effects, great fight scenes and stronger character development. It's just an outstanding action flick that leaves you hungry for X 3!!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2003
It took me a while to see the first x-men movie, despite being a huge fan of marvel, but after thoroughly enjoying it i couldn't wait for the sequel.
What can i say? The tone is even darker for x-men 2, which is great - it is this apocolyptic mood which makes the x-men one of marvel's greatest creations. I like also how the film works as a kind of analogy to the civil rights movement in the US during the 1950s and 60s: Professor Xavier is akin to martin luther king, preaching unity and tolerance between humans and mutants, while Magneto adopts Malcolm x's separatist, confrontational attitude.
As expected, the special effects are spectacular, but for me it is the plot, characters and cast which really propel things along. Ian Mckellen, a giant in the world of acting, is really fantastic as the cynical Magneto. Hugh Jackman has made the wolverine role his own, while Patrick Stewart seems to have finally shaken off the Captain picard persona in his portrayal of Professor Xavier.
Finally, Mystique must rate as the sexiest female blue mutant in cinema history.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2003
Possibly more than any other Summer I can remember, 2003 was all about movie sequels - Matrix Reloaded, Terminator 3, Tomb Raider II, Bad Boy II. All of them were hugely disappointing and made a mockery of the so called 'block-buster', except one. X-Men 2, which was easily the best big budget film I have seen this year.
The first X-Men movie was enjoyable, a bit too short, an iffy story and not quite epic enough but it achieved its main aim - to introduce the characters and the world of mutants.
With that out of the way, the sequel was able to get down to the nitty gritty and have some real fun! In short, this film is vastly superior to the first in every way. The story, acting and production of the film is top notch.
All the usual players are back, Captain Picard....*ahem* I mean Patrick Stewart as Professor X, a beardless Gandalf aka Ian McKellen as Magneto and Hugh Jackman is in top form as Wolverine. All the other X-men return and their characters are further fleshed out in this film but the aforementioned three are the key figures.
The new additions are perhaps the most impressive however, Stryker is the brilliantly malevolent baddie intent on mutant genocide, Pyro, a young mutant with possibly the coolest power ever - the ability to control fire - and Nightcrawler, a mutant capable of teleportation through walls, stars in a terrific opening scene that sets the high standard which the rest of the film sticks to admirably.
There are several other memorable scenes - not least special forces raiding the Mutant School and Wolverine proceeding to rip em a new one, and the finale inside an abandoned military compound.
The film concludes on something of a cliff-hangar with the end scene very VERY reminiscent of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. So plans for X-Men 3 are no doubt in the pipeline and while I have no great faith in money spinning sequels, if it picks up where X-Men 2 left off, it'll get my seal of approval!
I will definitely be picking this one up on DVD.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2005
Comic book movies in general get a bad reputation from being rushed into production and having scripts that totally ignores every aspect of the characters that made readers like them in the first place.
Luckily 'X Men 2' has none of these problems. It builds on what storylines from the first film and the characters are very true to the comics. The action sequences and quieter character moments sit very well together and the direction and special effects are superb - check out the opening sequence in the White House. The ongoing storyline of people who are different being looked down upon by others is, sad to say, as relevant now as when the comics first came out and it handles these aspects without being mawqish.
Having said that, it's also a very entertaining nights viewing if you just want to watch a movie and not bother with any of the subtext of people fitting into society.