The plot in a nutshell
This is the second time around for the Marvel superhero team, the
X-men. Lead by Professor Xavier, Wolverine, Jean Gray, Storm, Rogue,
Iceman, Pyro and Cyclops battle an old nemesis of both Xavier and
Magneto, Col. Stryker
film also brings back Mystique, the blue shape shifter, and the
aforementioned Magneto, who proves you can't keep a good mutant down, or at
least caged up.
Stryker is manipulating humans and mutants alike for his personal
agenda. The plot follows the usual X-men device, where they are
persecuted for being different, and all kinds of parallels can be drawn to
just about every persecuted group in the history of man. There's
plenty of action, and this film also introduces a new main character in
Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
While watching this film right after work on a Friday (actually, I cut out
with a couple friends about an hour early - bad Mikey, bad), I was reminded
as to just why I put together a home theater. Two rows in front of me,
someone decided to bring a child who hadn't yet seen their first
birthday. Surprisingly, the poor kid didn't make it through the two
hour and 14 minute film without crying and having to leave. Then there
was the guy a couple rows behind me who couldn't keep his eyes open for the
first hour, and started snoring in the second act. If you're too tired
to stay awake during an action movie, I'd suggested one of the 64 ounce
Mountain Dews available at every concession stand. And then there's
the theater itself. The projector was making a loud ticking noise,
loud enough that it was clearly audible any time something wasn't exploding
on the screen. Now I know I'm picky - I shut the filter and bubbler
off on my aquarium when I'm watching a movie, and assume the fish can
survive for a couple hours - but this was downright annoying.
Ah, but what about the
movie? That depends on your feelings toward comic book movies.
Did you like Spider-Man? Did you like the first X-men? Are you
laying awake nights anticipating the release of the Hulk? Then go see
this film right now. Of course, that's pretty much worthless advice
since you saw it at the midnight showing on Thursday.
For the rest of the world, the
film has some very good acting, and some very bad acting. There are
several very exciting sections, and others may cause the same reaction that
the guy two rows in back of me had.
The action is what makes this
film, and there's plenty of it. In particular, there are two sequences
that stand out as exceptional - Nightcrawlers introduction at the beginning
of the film (BAMPF! If you enjoyed the Wolverine introduction in the
first film, you'll think this one is amazing), and the escape of Magneto
from his plastic prison.
Not all is perfect in the film
though, with a rather weak performance from Marsden as Cyclops, especially
when he is supposed to show some emotion. Only Shatner could have
overacted any better. Berry is still nothing special as Storm, but she
looks the part. She's dropped the accent here, a smart move.
There are TONS of references to
various other characters from the books, and it's a feast for the serious
X-men fan. That's part of the problem as well, since the average
viewer is going to miss 90% of them, and will even have some difficulty
fully enjoying the entire chemistry between Stryker and the rest of the gang
without having read the comic. They spend very little time on story,
even less on character development, and that's due to a ship with way too
many passengers. With the main team of Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean, Storm
and Xavier, along with the 'bad guys' of Magneto and Mystique, plus the new
characters of Nightcrawler, Lady Death Strike (although they never call her
by that name), and Stryker, not to mention the kids Iceman and Pyro, and,
well, it's impossible to really connect with anyone. Similar to the
way Wolverine stole the first film, Nightcrawler steals this one, but there
after the initial scenes he's seriously underused through the rest of the
The character that really gets
to do the most this time around, and have the most independent screen time,
is Mystique. It seems odd, but the story worked out that way, and gave
her and Magneto the lion's share of the interested scenes.
Fortunately Ian McKellan does
his usual exceptional job with the Magneto character. He's powerful
and convincing in every scene, unlike Xavier this time around. The
character gets little real use beyond being a plot device, and never gets
the opportunity to show any power or strength of his own.
This film is going to be a must
buy for me on DVD, but for two scenes only. It's the type of movie,
like the first X-men or perhaps Blade II, where I pop it in to watch those
two scenes every once in awhile, but rarely ever watch it in its entirety
The last five minutes sets
things up for another 'new' character, and it's pretty obvious to the comic
fan, but likely to be completely missed by the uninitiated. The keys
to understanding, even without knowledge of the comic, is the actions by
Xavier in the final few minutes, and the final monologue. As the words
are spoken, and the camera pans across the water, think about what Jean is
saying...and pay attention to the patterns in the water. It sure
looked like there was something there to me...I think that there's a second
likely candidate (after Wolverine) for their own spin off film.
Rating - A Qualified Hit the
I'd rank this movie as better than the first, certainly better than Blade I
and II, but not quite at the same level as last year's Spider-Man.
There simply isn't enough depth to this story, or more importantly to any of
the characters, to get the same level of film respect.
qualified my rating because of the simple fact that it's a comic book movie
in it's most obvious form. If you hated Spider-Man, X-men, or super
hero comic book movies in general, then don't spend your time on this.
You'll hate it.
a big fan of the comic, or any comic super heroes, than you owe it to
yourself to check it out. It's got plenty of action and lots of fun,
and you'll have no trouble overlooking the basic issues.
you're someplace in between, it's worth seeing. If crying babies,
snoring fools, and clicking projectors bug you though you might want to wait
for the DVD.
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
Here's a film with plenty to spoil, so here's plenty of space...
You've been warned. The
big surprise of course is the death of Jean at the end, but obviously she
isn't dead. It's a clear set up to her switch to the character
Phoenix, and I swear on the Pope's grave that her symbol of the bird was in
the lapping waves of the ocean shot at the very end. I wish I'd had a
better look at it though, and haven't seen anyone else mention it yet.
The red hair and flashing eyes were enough of a hint earlier to make seeing
the symbol unneccesary, but a nice touch. And just in case you were
unsure if she survived, we had a final shot of Xavier looking like he just
heard something very faint, very far away, and suddenly smiling. Ah
yes, I'm sure everything will be just fine now.
Marsden's acting around her
death was painful, and not in the way he intended. The entire death of
Jean was far less moving to me than the film maker's clearly intended, and I
thought the scenes with Bobby Drake's family and their rejection of him were
more emotional than Jean taking the big bath.
Lady Deathstrike's death was
also a bit of a disappointment - I prefer to see them keep the characters
alive for possible future story lines - but at least it made sense in how it
happened. Her death was obvious, while they left at least a little
ambiguity in the death of Stryker. I would have prefered the opposite.
And now Pyro is on the 'bad'
side. Fire was always less friendly than ice. The movie is a
worthy follow up to the first, but it doesn't reach the level of overall
film enjoyment that I got from Spider-Man.