I’ll admit that I walked into the press screening—an experience that was complete with a bag search and metal detectors!—a little skeptical. I’d seen the original X-Men movie and was impressed but not blown away, so I wondered if this sequel would live up to the first film, surpass it or leave me mightily disappointed.
It was, in a non-word, Xcellent. Xciting. Xtraordinary. Xceptional.
Need I go on? ‘Cause I think my opinions are fairly clear.
Director Bryan Singer has outdone himself with the visually dazzling, much-more-engaging follow-up saga tracking the adventures of everyone’s favorite band of mutants. This time around, the action centers around Cerebro, a massive device created by sage telepath Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) that enables him to psychically connect with every living thing on Earth. Out to snag Cerebro’s powers for his own malevolent plans, nefarious military honcho Stryker (Brian Cox) uses a mind-control serum to squeeze info out of any mutants he can, including the imprisoned Magneto (Ian McKellan). Soon, Stryker’s leading the charge to rid the planet of all non-humans, and former mutant enemies unite in battle against their common foe.
The pecking order of mutants switches around a bit, with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and newcomer Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) taking center stage. (Sorry Cyclops fans!) That said, this film boasts a cornucopia of Xtra-special characters (old and new) with loads of nifty powers and, even though they may not get as much screen time as their higher-billed co-stars, they all manage to leave lasting impressions.
As does the film as a whole. I love seeing movies and legitimately wondering, "Okay, how’d they do *that*?", and there were more than enough opportunities to utter those words during this film’s two-hours-or-so running time. The special effects employed for Nightcrawler and Mystique alone were worth every penny the producers spent and left me slack-jawed at how seamlessly they were woven into the film. Graceful, slick, gorgeously shot. The action doesn’t let up at all, either, and the plot keeps turning as the film progresses. Audience members with short attention spans will have no problem remaining engrossed in the proceedings.
Despite any initial doubts about X2, I can now officially declare myself far more excited than I should be for the almost-certain third installment of the franchise. Yes, I’ve become an X-nerd.