Movie Review – X2: X-Men United (2003)

You know those things you don’t want to find when you’re reading a review of a movie you haven’t seen? I think they call them spoilers. Anyway, you’ll find a lot of them below, so if you haven’t seen the movie, go do something else.

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Okay, so this is the second installment in the X-Men movie franchise. How was it?

Pretty good, I’d say. It was definitely better than the first movie. It was more fluent, the action was better, and I felt better acquainted with all the characters. More importantly, I actually enjoyed watching this one. It was kind of fun.

At first, though, I thought it was just going to be the first movie all over again, since the two start in similar ways. And yes, the central conflict seems to be the same, except that there’s another conflict inserted in and the two are really going on at the same time. It sort of works, though, because they do the exact same thing with the villains. Magneto is still there, but there’s another villain, William Striker, who takes center stage in this movie, with Magneto waiting in the background ready to strike again. The main heroes even enlist his help for a few scenes, which was really fun to watch, especially since they make frequent use of Mystique, who is, I fully admit it, very badass.

There are also several other subplots going on at the same time. Wolverine is trying to find out his past. He doesn’t find out much beyond the fact that William Striker was apparently the one who gave him his metal claw things, and that he was, according to Striker, an “animal.” I’m not going to go too much into Wolverine’s story as I’m sure it will be greatly explored in the TWO WHOLE MOVIES that are dedicated to him. Seriously? He got two movies? Couldn’t you have given Mystique one? Or Magneto?

One part of Wolverine’s story that I will discuss, however, is the stupid love triangle between him, Jean Grey, and Cyclops. Love triangles rarely make your movie better unless they’re the main focus, and this movie was no exception. The love triangle is so completely useless that I want to punch the screen whenever they bring it up. Here’s why it’s not effective. We hardly ever see Cyclops and Jean together, so we don’t know the nature of their relationship. The movie tells us that Jean needs to be with Cyclops and not with Wolverine, but I honestly would rather see Jean and Wolverine together because they actually interact. I don’t see how anyone could prefer the Cyclops/Jean pairing over the Wolverine/Jean pairing because there’s not enough with which to compare the two. Until they give me more screen time with Jean and Cyclops, Jean and Wolverine belong together. There, I said it.

Rogue isn’t in this movie much, which is a shame because I actually liked her character from the first movie. She has a new boyfriend, and that’s about it. We’ll talk about her new boyfriend, though, whom I’ve started to call Ice Boy because I can’t remember his real name. Sorry about that, but there are so many goddamn characters.

All in all, the story in X2 flows a lot better than the one in X-Men. There are themes that are brought up in the beginning of the film which are brought back, giving a nice fluency and coherence to the story. An example is the conversation Storm has with the teleporting guy at the beginning of the movie. The two discuss different ways of facing discrimination and prejudice. Storm is very bitter about the years of oppression put on mutants by normal people, and chooses to face her battles with an attitude of anger, but the teleporting guy, who is very religious, instead chooses faith. Towards the end of the movie, the conversation is referenced once again when Storm tells teleporting guy she has faith in him. It may be cheesy, but it’s nice and well-structured at the same time.

Patrick Stewart is great as always, but I think the real star of the show is Magneto, who does some really badass, horrible, and creative things in this movie. Probably my favorite scene, and certainly the most creative, was Magneto’s escape scene. Magneto is trapped in a plastic prison, and he escapes by – get this – extracting all the iron from a security guard’s blood, turning that iron into three metal balls, and using those metal balls to wreak havoc and bust out of there. I rarely wince when watching mild gore, but I did wince at that scene. It was gross, but really cool.

The whole movie was kind of like that, cool. It was fun to watch. That is, except for the stupid goddamn ending.

This is the part where Jean is trying to get the ship working while attempting to stop a giant wall of water from crashing down on everyone at the same time. I’m sure if you gave me time, I could think of a dozen more ways they could have gotten out of that situation. While I was watching the movie, I was thinking to myself, they have a freaking kid who can freeze things. Why the hell aren’t they using him? While Jean got the plane working, Ice Boy could have been freezing the giant wall of water and, the second before it cracked, teleporting guy could have gotten them out of there. Also, was there any reason Jean couldn’t have done what she did from inside the plane? Or couldn’t Storm have made a huge wind current that blasted the plane out of there?

I don’t know. It was just hard for me to invest in the emotional impact of the scene when I was thinking of so many alternatives. “There’s no other way” and “I have to do this” have been said in every superhero/action film/whatever genre you can think of ever, and the fact that they really needed a scene in which to say those all too familiar and annoying words irks me.

Other than that, though, the film was good, and it definitely makes me want to watch the third movie. Onward we go.

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