The X-Men are back in their biggest and most second adventure yet in X2 and, thus… the summer movie season has officially opened.  Unpack those explosives and car chases, kids!

Now, the team of mutant superheroes must team up with their greatest enemies, Magneto and Mystique, to stop a madman from wiping out every mutant on earth with the unwitting help of a brainwashed Professor X.  Along the way, they are joined by new X-Peoples, Iceman, Pyro, and Nightcrawler.

This is one of those few rare precious sequels that not only surpasses its predecessor, but leaps over it and kicks in the face while doing it.  Compared to X2X-Men is a wimpy superhero tea party.  X2 is where the real meat and potatoes are at.  It’s almost like X-Men was merely an introductory piece and X2 is where the real movie starts.

My, what a difference a couple of years make.  I remember writing the review for the first X-Men movie, I stated that the X-Men comics sucked (and, at the time, they really did).  Well, now I’m hooked on one of the many X-Men comics, The New X-Men by Grant Morrison so now I guess you can say I’m a mutant fanboy unlike I was last time and, believe you me, this movie is made for the fanboys.

All the old favorites are back… the feral and dangerous Wolverine, the anal boring boy scout Cyclops, the weather controlling Storm, the powerful Professor X, and the lovely telepathic Jean Grey.  Even little Rogue is back in a more active and heroic role.  Stately Magneto and sultry Mystique are back as well… they don’t seem terribly concerned that Toad and Sabretooth are missing, but I wouldn’t be either if I were them.

New mutants along for the ride are Iceman… a young go getter who is not only trying to mack on Rogue (which either makes him very brave or very dumb) but can also freeze anything he wishes, Pyro… another young go getter who can manipulate flames, and Nightcrawler, the most interesting of the bunch who – in addition to being blue, having three fingers on each hand and foot, and a little devil’s tale – can teleport from one place to another in a maneuver called BAMF’ing.

Hey, don’t laugh… you know what you call it when Wolverine’s claws pop out?  “SNIKT!”

But enough about that…

X2 opens with a very cool and very exciting mutant attack on the White House with our friend Nightcrawler Bamf’ing his way through walls, taking out secret service members, and generally having a field day being a genuine BA.  This entire sequence is probably the most original action sequence put to film in the last few years.

This action gives a military warmonger, General Stryker, the opportunity to declare an unofficial war on mutants everywhere and his first target is Professor X’s school for the gifted.  Another really cool and inventive action sequence happens and more X-Men make cameos (the coolest being a totally steeled-out Colossus).

All of the X-Men (with the exception of Cyclops who is boring anyway) get a chance to shine in this movie.  X2 isn’t The Wolverine and X-Men Show, it really is a team movie as every member from Wolverine to Iceman to Rouge to Storm gets to have their place in the spotlight and use their powers in new and inventive ways.

Unlike the Daredevil movie, this is going to be a film remembered for years and years and years because it’s layered and poignant while at the same time being exciting and interesting.

Great performances are turned in all around by the cast.  Even Storm seems to have shaken off her dorky image from the first movie.  Heck, in X2, she might have even gotten away with the, “do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lighting” line.

Nah…

The true scene stealer in X2 has got to be Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler.  Seriously, folks, I just don’t have enough words of praise for this guy.  Anyone who can put on a ludicrous amount of blue makeup, hooves, and a devil’s tale and then be versatile enough for you to take him seriously is an incredible actor.  End of story.

I don’t have enough nice words to say about this movie, kids.  Yeah, I know I could fall back on that tired critical line that, “the movie was fun, but flawed” but I don’t want to because, simply… every movie is flawed.

What I will tell you is that I am not afraid to say that, as of now, X2 is my favorite movie of 2003.  I’m even debating that it should be my favorite superhero movie of all time because, my dear patrons, it is simply that good.

In addition to being exciting and deep, it’s got an emotional finale that isn’t cheap or manipulative.  Lord knows, I can’t remember the last time a movie made a tear come to my eye while, at the same time, made me smile in delight.

Long story short, just go see it.  This is a great movie… better than the first!

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Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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