Ah, another sequel. These days the Hollywood studios churn them out in droves, and not always done well. But in the case of the X-Men franchise, it had to be done right.
The daunting task facing director Bryan Singer and his troop of mutants is to not only top the fun of the first X-Men film, but to add to it, build character, depth and plot. There also needed to be more back story, newer effects and more drama. X2 delivers in all of these areas.
The plot is simple: A military baddie, General Styker, has found ways to control mutants and use them for ill-gotten gains. His plan is clear cut: He is out to control mutants. To do that, he needs Professor Xavier and his prized invention, Cerebro. Cerebro allows Professor X to find humans and mutants anywhere in the world. For Stryker, controlling this device would spell doom for mutants. His goal of supremacy is obvious.
We also learn that Stryker has tinkered with mutants in the past. The drama is heightened because he knows a great deal about Wolverine.
On the other side of the mutant fence, we learn that Magneto, now imprisoned, has been used by Stryker to get to Charlers Xavier. This leads to an awkward pairing of mutant hero and villain to save the mutants and possibly humanity.
That's the simplest plot outline. What lies beneath is more interesting. We meet Nightcrawler, a mutant who can move swiftly and teleport. He is new to the X-Men. We also see relationships between Rogue and IceMan, Cyclops and Jean Grey. It is interesting that Wolverine is a wedge in both of this situations.
Once again, this is Hugh Jackman's film. His wit, humor, and quiet intensity beautifully carry his role as Wolverine. Co-star Halle Berry, as Storm, has more to do this go-round and she takes a broader role in the mutant team. Then there is Jean Grey, who is torn apart in so many ways. Her powers are heightened, she likes two guys, and she must find the missing Professor X. On top of this we see two young mutants, Ice Man and Pyro discover their own skills, face their destinies, and become better people.
This movie really flies. The first twenty minutes are tense and full of action. When it does settle down, the plot moves along well. And there is lots of background stuff and loads of potential new stuff for the inevitable X3.
Director Bryan Singer has managed to use a broad, diverse canvas to paint the mutant world. The conflict between human and mutant is played out skillfully. It is well thought out with an excellent pace. Directing so many people in so many ways with so much plot in orbit must have been exhausting. Yet we are not exhausted --or underappreciative.
X2 has captured the essence of the comic book. A consensus exists that the Chris Clarmont/John Byrne X-Men comic book years were the ones that launched the book into stardoom. True to the heart of X-Men, Singer takes some of their best plot devices and characters and gives them a contemporary coat of paint.
If you are a comic fan you should be pleased with this adaptation. If you like films with great effects and lots of fun, then you should dig this as well. X2 is one wild, fast, fun ride-- and a really good movie.