X2: X-Men United (2003)

Genre(s): Action / Adventure
Fox || PG13 - 130 minutes - $26.98 || November 25, 2003
Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2003-12-10


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer(s): Zak Penn (story) and David Hayter (story) & Bryan Singer (story), Michael Dougherty (screenplay) & Dan Harris (screenplay) and David Hayter (screenplay)
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, Anna Paquin, Kelly Hu, Aaron Stanford, Katie Stuart, Shawn Ashmore, Kea Wong


Theatrical Release Date: May 2, 2003


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director and Cinematographer
  • Producers and Writers Commentary
  • 9 Featurettes
  • Multi-Angle Study
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Galleries
  • Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

This movie kicks ASS! plain and simple. It's an x-men fan's wet fanboy dream and it's entertaining enough for both the average moviegoer and for those looking for some depth.

Original Review:
"You are a god among insects. Never let anyone tell you any different".

X2. What can I say about it? As one can tell from my name, this review is obviously going to be a BIT biased but I feel it is my duty as a fan of the material to write a review of this film. A film that I love so dearly I've seen it now about 10 times.

The first X-Men film was an risky experiment. Superhero films in America were no longer a big deal, in great part due to the abomination that was Batman and Robin and a live action X-Men film wasn't expected to succeed in the slightest. In early 2000, the first photos of the cast members in costume were leaked online and everyone feared for the worst. The outfits the actors wore deviated quite a bit from the ones featured in the comic book series and fanboys the world over were in a tizzy. They needn't have worried. X-Men opened on July 14th, 2000 to number one, making over 54 million dollars in it's opening weekend alone and going on to gross 157 million dollars, more than doubling it's 70 million dollar budget. Best of all, it was actually a pretty good movie. Flawed yes, but still decent. Magneto (the first film's villain) used a really goofy mcguffin to move the plot along, Cyclops and Storm had little to no characterization, the score was lacking, and the action scenes just weren't up to snuff. Despite all of that, The film was considered a successful launch to a potential franchise.

Enter X2. Director Bryan Singer as well as most of the principal cast of the first film (and a few new characters/cast members) have knocked this film out of the park.

X2 kicks off with a bang when new mutant character, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) attempts to assasinate the President of the United States in a dazzling display of action and special fx the likes of which we simply haven't seen before. The scene is an adrenaline rush meant to grab the audience by the neck and suck them into the sequal's storyline and it works resoundingly well.

The X-Men hear about the attack and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) sends Jean Grey (Famke Jannsen) and Storm (Halle Berry) to bring Nightcrawler back to the mansion to interrogate him. Meanwhile, Xavier and Cyclops (James Marsden) decide to go pay a visit to Magneto (Ian McKellen), the x-men's archenemy to see if he is behind it. This leaves Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who recently returned from Canada on a mission to discover his past, to "babysit" the young students at the mansion, including Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) , Pyro (Aaron Stanford), and scores of other young mutants. When General William Stryker (Brian Cox) a mutant hating government agent decides to led a military assault into Xavier's mansion to detain several of the mutants residing there, all hell breaks loose and the story kicks into high gear.

What follows is a splintering of the characters similar to Empire Strikes Back. Cyclops and Xavier are kidnapped by Stryker's henchwench Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), Wolverine, Iceman, Rogue and Pyro all escape the mansion attack and go on the run, Magneto with some help from his right hand spy, Mystique (Rebecca Romeign Stamos) escapes prison, and Storm and Jean seek out Nightcrawler. It's a very effective storytelling method and it works here in spades.

X2 is lightyears beyond X-men. For starters, just about every character is given much more to do. Mystique, Iceman, Jean Grey, Pyro, Storm, Magneto and several others have all had their roles greatly expanded with fantastic results. New character Nightcralwer also gets time to shine in the opening scene as well as several little character beats throughout the film. Like X1, X2 is still primarily Wolverine's story and Jackman gets lots to do as the loner BUT his story is never so dominant that it doesn't feel like an X-men film(one of the key problems in the first film).

The action and F/X dwarf the first one. There still aren't a TON of action sequences but what they do have are quite unforgettable. The Nightcrawler attack scene, magneto's escape, Storm's jetfighter dogfight, Wolverine vs. Deatstrike and many more are all excellant. Little touches like Cyclops' optic blasts and Storm's lightening fx have all been refirned and look much better.

John Ottman's score is spellbinding. It's a big sweeping epic of a piece that takes time to give little themes and beats to individual characters as well (Mystique, Pyro, Jean Grey, etc.).

Bryan Singer's direction is AWESOME. People have said that Singer can't direction action but after this film, many of his detractors promptly silenced themselves.

Does X2 have problems? Yes, it does, but they are few and farbetween. Cyclops suffers more than any other character of having nothing to do. He simply dissapears from the story for about half of the film but when he is there he does make the most of it. Deathstrike has but one line in the film and although there is a decent reason behind it, more could've been done with her character. Other than the lack of screentime for certain characters, I couldn't find all that many problems with it though.

X2: X-men United is many things. It's a great popcorn flick, it works on a methaphorical level as well being that it deals greatly with the subject of prejudice and acceptance and tolerance, and it works as a great ensemble actor piece. In short, everything the first X-Men should've been, X2 is and then some.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Director and Cinematographer Commentary Track: LOVED it. I was a big fan of Singer's commentary on the X-men 1.5 disc and he doesn't disappoint here. Funny moments include Singer's obsession with that cat licking Wolverine's claw to he and Sigel joking about X3 being a musical lol. Tons of informative nuggets along the way though. Very pleasing.

Producers and Writers Commentary Track: It was Okay. Not a great track but not a bad one either. The most interesting parts are what WEREN'T used in the film. On both this track and Singer/Sigel's there are references made to where The Sentinal robots would appear during the film and on this film a scene where Angel and Cyclops would have been talking throughout the film in Stryker's headquarters. Good but not great track.

The secret origin of the X-Men: A roughly 30 minute long featurette about the comic book origins of the characters as well as how the first film came about. VERY entertaining. I love hearing Stan Lee talk. No matter how many times he tells his stories, they are always a hoot. Also of interest is just how long the first X-Men film was in development. James Cameron almost did the film at one point. THAT would've been a very different movie.

Nightcrawler Reborn: This is an interview with Marvel comic writers Chris Claremont and Chuck Austin about the chracters comic book origins. Good stuff (though seeing as how Austin has only been writing X-men for a little over a year, I wonder why he was chosen for this).

Nightcrawler attack multiangle study: This is the nightcrawler attack sequence broken down into different angles and animatics and such. there are about 3 different ways of viewing it.

Evolution in the details: designing X2: Guy Dyas takes us through how he designed the many sets and stages on X2. The plastic prison set and the X-jet are much cooler than the first one. Sadly, they did build a Danger Room set but it wasn't used (hopefully in X3...)

United Colors of X: The costume designer takes us through the various wardrobes she chose for the actors in the film. She gets very excited at times (perhaps a bit too much).

Wolverine/Deathstrike fight Rehearsal: Kelly Hu and Hugh Jackman's stunt doubles rehearse the big fight scene. Makes you wonder exactly how much was done by the actors and how much by the doubles. it's never really specified.

The second issue of the Uncanny X-men: Making of X2: A very expansive look at the entire process of how the film was made which covered casting, story ideas, the budget, fx, the whole kit and kaboodle. It runs about an hour and it's very good though I did find the featurette on X-men 1.5 a bit more indepth. Still great though.

Introducing the Incredible Nightcrawler: This is a short 20 some odd minute long featurette on how Alan Cumming won the role, his approach to it, the makeup process, the fx of the character, and more. Interesting (though one does sense that Cumming pretty much did it for the money, despite what HE said. Still, can't say I blame him and he IS signed for X3 already).

Nightcrawler Time Laspe: Watch them put the makeup on Alan Cummings face. A little dull for my taste.

FX2-Visual Effects: A half hour or so featurette on how Rhythm and Hues and Cinesite created the film's dazzling Fx sequences. I must say, I really did love their work for the film. I love ILM but between these people and Weta, ILM's fx just aren't quite what they used to be.

Requiem for Mutants: The Score of X2: John Ottman rules. I love the fact that he also tried to put hints of the Fox kids animated series' theme song in the main theme of the film. that's pretty sweet!

X2 Global Webcast highlights: Your standard interviews with the cast (all except Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen). A few funny little anecdotes and such (though I'm tired of hearing the story about naked Hugh Jackman which I heard like 6 times total during the whole disc).

Deleted Scenes: The deleted scenes are a mixed bag. there are 11 in all and while some are totally disposable and add nothing ("Wolverine kills the intruder"), some are AWESOME! ("Jubilee at the museum"). The last two ("Professox X and Cyclops Escape" and "Arriving to an Empty school") even provided a whole new subplot, but as it felt a bit tacked on, it's probably better they didn't use it.

Galleries: Here you will find still galleries of the different locales in the film, characters, nightcrawler circus posters and more. the BEST of the bunch is easily "The Unseen X2" though. In there you get unused designs for the Danger Room (which will supposedly be in X3), Sentinal Robots, and best of all, the x-men's one and only ARCHANGEL!!! GEEKASM!!! lol

Trailers: Finally, we are given 3 trailers for the film (the first two kind of suck but the last one, whoa mama!), a public service announcement (huh?) and an offer for 3 free marvel comic books.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Great, in particular the audio. Fox is FANTASTIC at great audio on their discs. Not only are you given a Dolby 5.1 track, but DTS as well.



.::OVERALL::.

Overall, it's a very good set. Some of the featurettes were a little too Nightcrawler heavy which is okay seeing as how he was one of the few new characters with some depth. Halle Berry is strangely missing from almost all the extras (I won't say anything other that I hope she wisely stops acting so high and mighty. I've seen Gothika and it AIN'T pretty. that's all). The commentaries are overall entertaining and informative. You get one good one and one just okay one. My favorite featurettes were the ones in the History of the X-men section, the second issue of uncanny x-men, and the scoring of X2 and again, I really liked the Jubilee deleted scene. A Pretty good set for a great movie.