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"X2: X-Men United" - Movie Review

"X2:  X-Men United" - Movie Review

Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action/violence, some sexuality, and brief language)

Release Date: May 2, 2003

Actors: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anne Paquin, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Bruce Davidson, Alan Cumming, Kelly Hu, Aaron Stanford,

Director: Bryan Singer

Special Notes: Executive Producer Ralph Winter is a Christian who volunteers his time to serve on the Biola University Media Task Force, encouraging Christians to get involved with the entertainment industry.

Plot: When the President of the United States is attacked by a mutant, the message is loud and clear that mutants want their freedom. But is it our X men at work or is it the work of an evildoer trying to fool the public into an outcry for a Mutant Registration Act? It appears the new anti-mutant movement is now led by William Stryker, a wealthy former Army commander who is rumored to have experimented on mutants. Stryker takes Xavier prisoner and uses his mind to operate the magnificent secret room to connect with all of the mutants of the world. As Wolverine (Jackman) hunts for Stryker, he discovers clues to his origin and how he came to be made; all the evidence points to Stryker. As an attack is launched against the school, Magneto (McKellen) escapes from his plastic prison and partners with the X men to gain back the power and defeat Stryker. With the fates of Xavier, mankind and mutant kind up to the X-men, the X-Men face their most dangerous mission ever.

Good: They're back, and they're awesome! This is one cool movie that gives us a story full of interesting characters, amazing special effects and absolutely incredible CGI effects that make every minute a visual buffet. This time Professor Xavier (Stewart) brings not only our favorite crew -- Cyclops (Davidson), Storm (Berry), Mystique (Romijn-Stamos), teleporting Nightcrawler ( Cumming) and our favorite, Wolverine, who gets most of the action when he protects the school -- but we also are introduced to Banshee (who can shatter glass with her screams), Kitty ''Shadowcat'' Pryde (who walks through walls and people) and Colossus (whose metal body can become visible when he manifests his power) who do their stuff to protect the school and themselves and a fire starter who can ignite people and things on fire. Screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty have given us a more complex story with broader character development, heavier themes of death and destruction, lots of very cool special effects and sadly, the death of a very important character. Watching protean Mystique morph into a multitude of characters was a highlight for me (I have to admit I found myself staring at her body trying to see where her skin stopped and the paste-on appliqués began). I was also enthralled with a character named Nightcrawler, whose opening scene is amazing and very creative! (My audience applauded when that scene was over -- we liked it so well). In fact, Nightcrawler has several interesting scenes including one in a church and one on their special jet, where he quotes Scripture, including the Lord's Prayer! His character is very religious and refers to his upbringing in a circus where he was made fun of. He looks bizarre and almost demonic but the spiritual side works for the story. And hey, if the X men can bring a little religion to a younger generation who may never step inside a church to hear it, well who can argue with that? There are themes that are taken to the extremes with metaphors about "treating all mankind equal" and "mutants are people with feelings, so don't judge someone because they look or act different," etc. But it's all part of what drives the story. I really enjoyed myself and left with a smile thinking, how did they do that?

Bad: First of all this IS "X Men" so everyone who sees this needs to expect a certain amount of fighting and violence to make it suspenseful. There are plenty of fight scenes, zapping people, explosions, a few bad storms and lots of slice and dice scenes with Wolverine. None of the story is too intense or graphic, bloody or hard to watch, and all of it is done with the best special effects and action sequences. There are a few words thrown in, including a couple of religious exclamations. Parents don't let the PG-13 fool you, this movie is too intense and scary for little ones who can't discern what is make-believe and what is reality. They may end up having dreams about the blue boogeyman.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed this movie and can safely say it won't disappoint the fans who like plenty of action, special effects, interesting characters and unbelievable stunts.