Tuesday, 3 June 2014

X-Men 2 (aka X2, 2003)

So Toad and Sabretooth are dead and buried then it seems, guess they weren't that popular huh. Not surprising seeing as they were the worse characters from the last film. So after the unexpected smash of the original film we got this sequel adding more characters, more effects and a bit more much needed action.

Moving on from the first film we discover now that Magneto has been tortured into giving up vital information about Xavier's school for mutants by the nasty new bad guy William Stryker. Stryker and his team capture Xavier and plan to create another Cerebro so they can brainwash Xavier into wiping out all the mutants of the world with his mental powers. Now is the time...the X-Men and Magneto's naughty mutants must join forces to save all mutant kind.

Everything kicks off nicely with the cool introduction of new character Nightcrawler, who is performed with a likeable heartfelt sincere persona by Alan Cumming. Its a good start to the film because not only do we get a slick sexy Matrix style ass-kicking sequence courtesy of the Crawler, but this guy looks good, he's accurate to the source material and simply feels very fresh and original especially with that German accent. The one thing I don't get about this guy is the fact he can only teleport when he can see where's he's teleporting too. Surely when you teleport to anywhere you can't see where your going right? so what difference does it make?

This film clearly tries for the 'Empire' tone by making everything quite dark with lots of pending doom and gloom. As we all know the film also ends on a downer with major character Jean Grey kicking the bucket, new boy Pyro switching to the dark side and Wolverine discovering some of his bleak past plus having to fight another similar mutant. In general the whole team are feeling like shit come the end of the day plus they no longer appear to be safe in their 'Wayne Manor-esque' home.

But not only this we also get a much more violent film than the safe fast cut first flick. When Styker's men storm Xavier's mutant school armed to the teeth with automatic weapons we see Wolverine tear into some real hack n slash action as he rampages through the building slicing n dicing soldiers left right and centre (finally!). We also see a hint of mutant power from some younger students at the same time. Of course there is no blood or guts anywhere in the film but we do see Wolverine piling into bad guys impaling them pretty good with no cuts. This sequence to me shows another possible Nazi angle again as a community of 'different' people are invaded, rounded up and taken away from their home by armed soldiers, not even women and children are left.

I liked how the story develops Pyro Iceman and Rogue together as they come to terms with their powers plus adolescence. The scene where Iceman outs himself to his parents is a cute scene with very real message which some folk will relate to. Some nice little touches of humour admittedly but its all very tame and easy going. The fact Iceman is obviously the good guy and Pyro is obviously the quick tempered bad guy feels a bit too simple, amazed one isn't wearing blue and the other red whilst fighting over Rogue. I didn't really like the inclusion of Lady Deathstrike though, she felt unnecessary and merely there just for a showdown with Wolverine at the end...which she ultimately was as she did nothing else the entire time. She's in and out quick, a sidekick that's killed off neatly, only there for the visuals and adding to the character roster. The fight was also completely lacking in any excitement because we know neither of these characters can be hurt, this being a problem with these films at times, invincible people fighting each other.

Although I must admit I liked the concept of Stryker using his mutant son to control other mutants with a serum from his brain and the fact he induces Xavier into almost killing off everyone. OK sure the fact they managed to built another Cerebro seemed far fetched as I thought that was a special contraption that only Xavier and Magneto could devise but none the less it worked.

I don't deny the film is dark but maybe it tries a little too hard? I'm not trying to nit pick but it does feel a bit forced especially when Grey didn't really have to die as far as I can tell. The jet wouldn't start due to a malfunction, so Grey goes outside and protects the jet from the tidal wave of water whilst using her powers to start up the jet. Why didn't she just start the jet up from inside or am I missing something here? I think I am missing something aren't I...??? Anyway it kinda felt odd that she dies in this way as if to try and create this iconic emotional death which I didn't really feel, it just seemed like a daft waste (and to kick start the Phoenix plot).

Everything does feel a bit clockwork to be honest, there aren't any major surprises really (you can see things a mile off) but none the less it does hold your attention to the end. The visuals are on the whole much smoother and glossier than the first film, the actors are really getting into their respective roles, multiple characters are handled well by Singer and the film is also a highly positive encouraging shout out for gay people, teens, underachievers, outcasts, bullied people and any minorities on the whole. Although I still don't get how that highly advanced metal detector that scanned everything on and in the human body didn't pick up all that iron in the guards bloodstream, oh well.