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.
Fitting 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 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 from 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
(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
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
In any case, you've got the essential setup. Go and escape into the
digital romp if you've a mind to.
~~ Jules Brenner