Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan
Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier
Brian Cox as William Stryker
Ian McKellen as Magneto/Erik Lensherr
Famke Janssen as Jean Grey
Halle Berry as Storm/Ororo Munroe
Rebecca Romijn as Mystique
James Marsden as Cyclops/Scott Summers
Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner
Anna Paquin as Rogue/Marie
Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake/Iceman
Aaron Stanford as John Allerdyce/Pyro
Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike
The original X-Men movie was a remarkable accomplishment yet had its flaws. The two main reasons are the superhero genre’s decline after Batman and Robin hit with a thud and the fact that Fox is a pretty cheap studio and didn’t spend much money on X-Men. Did you know that George Lucas had to make do with a low budget for his first Star Wars movie? Following the success of both X-Men and Spider-Man, Fox was willing to put more effort into these movies. The result is a great candidate for title of greatest comic book movie ever!
Set after the first, we discover that some are already taking action against “the mutant problem.” Although Magneto is in prison, many still fear those with the X-gene. One of them, a bigoted military scientist named William Stryker, has develped technology that can control mutants through their special genes. After a teleporting mutant called Nightcrawler tries (under Stryker’s influence) to kill the President, a large-scale version of this is authorized. This will involve the capture of Prof. Charles Xavier and the use of his telepathic powers to kill all mutants. Meanwhile, Magneto escapes from prison with the help of former associate Mystique. The X-Men are run out of their mutant’s school by Stryker’s forces, though Xavier is captured. Despite their radically conflicting philosophies, Magneto and Mystique become temporary allies of the X-Men against their common enemy.
Of all the members of the very large cast, I’m happy to report that only two performances are particularly bad: Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler and James Marsden as Cyclops. This time Stryker is the villain instead of Magneto. Brian Cox brings him to life as a loathsome bigot. Despite that, we feel just a little bit of sympathy for him because part of how he got to be this way is because his son, Jason, was made an invalid by his mutation. However, that sympathy is eliminated when we learn that Stryker has come to see Jason as no longer his son but just another mutant.
It’s very refreshing to see prejudiced humans as the villains in this movie. Too often the X-Men universe forgets what the real purpose of its heroes is in all the mutant vs. mutant battles. But thanks to this movie and the new Days of Future Past, there’s not much danger of it being a problem in this series.
Another great thing about this movie is the character interactions. Wolverine continues to be tragic in both the mystery of his past and the hard truth that the woman he loves, Jean, has chosen another. At one point we have the teenage Bobby’s family learning that he’s a mutant. His parents grudgingly accept this, but his little brother calls the cops on him. Bobby and Rogue have a fellow student and acquaintance named John (he prefers to be called “Pyro”) who an anti-social rebel. As such, he ends up befriending Magneto and Mystique. I could go on, but I spoiled too much of the movie already.
I mentioned that X2 was afforded a bigger budget than the original. This enables grander use of mutant powers, particularly where Storm is concerned. A pity Fox was still too cheap to shell out for Sentinels. It’s only recently that we got to see them. Guess you can’t win all the battles.
I’d have to watch Days of Future Past again to decide whether it or this movie is best X-film. Still, the decision of whether or not I can recommend X2 is easy.
Overall: 9 out of 10