Thursday, 1 August 2013

X-Men 2 Review

After recently seeing The Wolverine at the cinemas the other day I decided to go through the X-Men film collection, but this time in chronological order (though I accidentally watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine first thinking it was set earlier), continuing with this.

Plot

SPOILER FREE

After the president is attacked by a mutant (Nightcrawler), William Stryker gets permission to infiltrate the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, taking some of the students, as well as managing to capture Professor X, and Cyclops whilst they visit Magneto. After this the X-Men try to find them, with Wolverine wanting to know his connection to this, as well as his past.



Review


This was an amazing film, and the best that the X-Men franchise has produced so far. It took everything that was good about the first X-Men film, and built on that, making something even better. The story was great, playing off one of the great comic book stories, whilst also making it it's own, with a unique background that was very dramatic, and interesting. It also had plenty of excitement, and brilliant character development, also having a great pacing, making everything flow smoothly. Returning director Bryan Singer also once again showed how well he understood this story, and franchise, as well as the characters as he did a great job at giving depth, as well as drama, making for one spectacular movie viewing experience.

Most of the cast of from the first X-Men film returned, with Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine perfectly, Patrick Stewart once again owning the Professor X role, with the other returning cast members, including Ian McKellen as Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm, Famke Jannsen as Jean Grey, James Marsden as Cyclops, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman, and Rebecca Romijn as Mystique all doing as good a job as they did in the first X-Men film, if not better. It did however have some new cast members with Alan Cumming playing Nightcrawler perfectly, Brian Cox as the sinister William Stryker, as well as Aaron Stanford as Pyro, and Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike, both doing an amazing job of their respective role.

Now this film wasn't adapted from any particular story, but it did have a play on the legendary Weapon X story, being more of a Return to Weapon X, than a straight up Weapon X adaptation, as although we see the main part of Weapon X, it mainly centres on Wolverine returning with the X-Men to this facility, and reliving the experience. Personally I felt that this was a genius way to go, as focusing on just Weapon X would not just be a risky move, but it'd detach from the team concept, turning even more into a Wolverine movie, as the X-Men movies already felt more like a Wolverine and X-Men series as it was. Anyway I loved the drama, and suspense that was put into the telling of this story, and I was happy to see a key part of Wolverine's history explored, whilst still managing to keep it as a team film.

Nightcrawler
One of the big things that I was happy about with this film was getting to see one of my favourite X-Men get the chance to shine on the bog screen. Of course I'm talking about Nightcrawler, who was portrayed brilliantly by Alan Cumming. I will however be honest in saying that when I first saw this movie I wasn't sure whether he did a good job or not, but after seeing the film a few more times I have to say he did a great job, and that the only thing that made me think otherwise was the way he was used in the film. Don't get me wrong, I loved how they went in deep with his character, but I felt that he could have been used a bit more, rather than getting used as a side character. I would also have really enjoyed seeing him return (and hopefully he will one day), and overall am happy that he made it into this film.

William Stryker
Due to the nature of the films story it would have a very different type of villain than the last one, instead with the mutant hating William Stryker being the main villain. Now he wasn't alone, as he'd also have his assistant, Lady Deathstrike, the Adamantium laced mutant under Stryker's mind control. I really enjoyed Styker in this film, and Brian Cox did a brilliant job as the character, as although he may not have necessarily looked like his comic counterpart, he can't half play a good villain, which is much more important. I also loved the whole reminiscence of Stryker, and Wolverine's history, as well as how they handled the suspense behind it. I also liked Deathstrike, as with her not speaking that added to her character, making her more mysterious, as well as making her seem more dangerous.

Magneto was also quite different in this film, as although it was still obvious that he was , "the bad guy," he would work alongside the X-Men to stop Stryker. Basically Magneto's attitude in this film was the enemy of my enemy is my friend, with his partnership being more of a truce. What I liked most about this was that it added something new to the film series, as it gets boring when the same character keeps returning as the villain, as although you still couldn't call him a good guy, he wasn't an obvious villain in this film, which was nice, and unique. It also made me the first time round question what Magneto's motives were, and whether he actually turned good, which was great, as it gave a bit of mystery, as well as more suspense to the film.

Wolverine with the Younger X-Men
This film would also allow another couple of the younger mutants to make the transition into the spotlight, as although they were shown in the last film, they'd have bigger roles in this one. I am of course talking about Iceman, and his troubled friend Pyro, who along with Rogue showed that the younger mutants could hold their own in this movie. Now we saw plenty of Rogue last time round, as well as a bit of Iceman, and nothing more than a cameo for Pyro (who was played by someone else), but this time due to them being a group their interaction was that much better, adding even more drama, as well as giving more depth to their individual characters. I did however also like how they didn't just chuck them in head first, as this would be a gradual development, still having them in a supporting role, with that transitioning into more in the next film, which was brilliant, as too much too fast can ruin character development.

There would also be some fantastic action in this movie, but the best fight in the film had to be Wolverine vs. Lady Deathstrike. It was just so amazing, being very exciting, and explosive, being very entertaining, and is still one of my favourite fights from an X-Men film. The rest of the action was also great, with Stryker's raid on the X-Mansion being very exciting, as was the scene at the start of the film showing Nightcrawler infiltrating the White House.

Final Verdict


This was a superb film, and my favourite X-Men film so far, and it will take a lot to beat it. It would continue to develop the characters from the first film perfectly, as well as doing a fantastic job of introducing some new ones. The action was also great, being very exciting, and entertaining. It also did a great job on using the Weapon X story, doing something unique with it that paid off brilliantly. Due to all this I'd highly recommend this film, and hope that there will be a future X-Men film that can match it, if not beat it.

Rating: 4/5