X2: X-Men United (2003)


X2: X-Men United maintains the first film’s emphasis on drama and character, but adds the sizzle a bigger budget can provide. This is, quite simply, a summer movie that delivers the goods. I love the raid on Xavier’s school, Magneto’s escape from his plastic prison, Nightcrawler’s attack at the White House, Pyro’s assault on the police, and the entire third act at the dam. The whole thing has extra meaning for me as an allegory for homophobia and gay rights. That could make a movie pretentious, but I think it makes X2 more relatable, more relevant. The movie also gains resonance from one character’s sacrifice. It reminded me how sacrifice helped make Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan so memorable. And then the snowy backdrop and dark dramatic turns reminded me of The Empire Strikes Back, and the involvement of the president and the White House made me think of Superman II.  Did director Bryan Singer try to echo successful sequels of the past? Probably not, but this flick can keep company with them.

With Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Aaron Stanford, and Kelly Hu.

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