Cinema Signal:

The Amazing Life of Stan Lee

. "X2: X Men United"

Put any expectations of deep meaning aside for this event movie and enjoy it as you would any comic strip. It's a world of real humans side by side with specially empowered mutants, blasting off the pages of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Marvel Comic strip.

It is also a half-hour longer than the original sequel of the successful ($300 million worldwide) "X-Men", smartly reuniting the principal cast members, rebalancing the prominence of their roles and, under the repeat helming of director Bryan Singer, maintaining the exhilaration level of digital effects and super-powered invention. Judging from some of the reactions of the preview audience, this is inspirational entertainment for franchise fans. Others might have some difficulties following the various power centers and just what it is they're after.

It revolves around three individuals: Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), his nemesis Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr (Ian McKellan) who is imprisoned as a result of prior events, and General William Stryker (Brian Cox). The good professor has possession of the cerebro machine, which allows him to envision, as if on a three-dimensional radar screen, all the humans on the planet and, separately, all the mutants that may be a threat to them. With cerebro, he can also will either group to die en masse. This is clearly a piece of advanced technology our armed forces would slaver to get developed.

There is some confusion about just who is the more villainous, clever Magneto, whose heart may actually be in the right place, or the really bad guy, Gen. William Stryker (Brian Cox). Stryker's been visiting maximum security prisoner Magneto in order to apply a chemical that sucks his mind dry of information regarding cerebro and, more critically, its successor, cerebro 2. Once these chemical sessions are over, however, Magneto is allowed to regain his powers, which makes it easy (and pictorially dynamic) for him to depart from his cell and join the fight in which everyone is against everyone else and where former enemies ally with one another against a common enemy.

WolverineFitting out Professor X's troops most colorfully are his X-men, a band that includes some pretty outstanding women (which may be why 20th Century Fox is Dr. Grey and Storm calling it "X2" and not "X-men2"). This band of mutants, each of whom has unique powers, includes Logan (aka, "Wolverine") (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Pyro (Aaron Stanford), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and a penitent outsider, Night Crawler (Alan Cumming), a demon-like character who leaves a wake of sooty smoke as he instantly beams himself Night Crawlerfrom place to place, bringing the term "acrobatic skill" to a new level. A gentle-German calling himself "Wagner", is it he who gets the escapade started with an attack on the president in the oval office.

On Magneto's side is the deliciously extraordinary Mystique Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) whose dark appearance and her shape-shifting abilities (enabling her to formulate herself into anyone else) tends to mask some considerable beauty. We owe much to the bar scene where we get a look at the real Romijn-Stamos for a moment of wishful thinking.

On General Stryker's side is Jason 143 (Michael Reid MacKay), a mind-controlled and mind-controlling genius with psychic mastery.

Don't these handles tell you all you need to know? Well, describing the characters is less of a task than explaining who wants what and which objectives are good, which bad. There is a certain suspension of logic to it all, even as the spectacular exploits offer the occasional puff of satisfaction, or humor, or comprehension. Perhaps what's called for here is to put yourself into the mental mode of the comic strip reader. It ain't no novel.

You can glean some messages from it, concerning terrorism and security, gays (as mutants who are loathe to come out), presidential self-calming with a bit of Jack Daniels, etc. But the part I have the most difficulty with in adventures of this sort is the arbitrariness of the conflicts, the convenient inconsistency of what the characters can do to resolve them. It's artificial drama cloaked in big production spectacle. Which doesn't mean it can't be fun.

In any case, you've got the essential setup. Go and escape into the digital romp if you've a mind to.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

The Soundtrack album


Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Well written
I agree with the review
Site Rating: 9

As an X-Man fan for 30 years, I found the film to be exactly what fans have been waiting for.

                                                          ~~ Walter Frayne
                                  -    -    -
Well written - Insightful
I agree with the review
Site Rating: 6

In a way I agree with the review but I was a little put off by how it psycho-analyzed the whole comic book premise thing. I mean, considering it was originally a comic book, the fact that they were able to (in my opinion) flesh-out some great character development gives the movie a lot of credit.

Bottom line: It's a popcorn movie so don't look at it in any other way. Just sit back and enjoy! Rating: 9

                                                          ~~ Julian
Poorly written
Site rating: 1

There are two much kissing invovlved in the movie! I hate the bar-scene with mistigue.It was totally inapropriate, and was disgusting. There should be no sex-related topics in the movie. Wolverine and Rouge get to cozy together. Logan should stay a virgin and pure.

                                                          ~~ Daniel Anisimov

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Hugh Jackman, "Wolverine"
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