Having already seen the first X-men movie and loved it, I couldn't wait to watch the follow-up, X-Men 2 and it didn't let me down. From it's themes and action scenes to the acting and direction, X-men 2 is a superior sequel to the first one in almost every possible way.
The movie begins with a indoctrinated mutant named Nightcrawler breaking into the White House and tries to kill the president but is unable to and flees. In the meantime, Wolverine journeys to an old army base in Canada to find evidence about his past but discovers nothing. Professor X locates Nightcrawler and sends Jean Gray and Strom to find him, while William Stryker gets permission from the president to examine the X Mansion for it's mutant ties. Stryker's forces than attack the mansion and abduct several students while Wolverine and a few other mutants are able to escape while Professor X and Cyclops are also captured. Now, the remaining X-men and Magneto must unite to save the professor and stop Stryker from executing his plans of destroying all of mutant kind.
With sequels, remakes and reboots being the main summer blockbusters these days, it's becoming harder and harder to find an action movie that has the capability to grasp your mind and engage your concentration so rigidly and doesn't let go until the film ends, X-Men 2 is one such movie. Usually, there are only a handful of movies where the follow-up is able to take all the previous elements from the first movie, effectively toss out anything that doesn't work and goes on to not only smash people's doubts or any kind of excitement for the movie but also utterly revalues and enhances the genre's credibility like The Dark Knight or Terminator 2. Given how the X-men feel more political and emotional than most other superheroes, the main aspects of the story lie with the characters and their battles for acceptance, their thoughts on how the world sees them, their relationships with each other, and how they all play a part in the story at hand while at the films core lies something a lot of modern action movies lack: heart.
But it's also thanks to director Brian Singer's obviously endless capabilities to accurately portray the authentic essence of the comics in a way that only a few directors have been able to do. Singly, wither they be hero, villain or as a team, Brian has managed to touch upon the emotional center of the comics and bring all these heroes and villains together in a movie that has no need for epic battles or witty dialog, but instead focuses on the lost arts of character development and interaction. Now, that's not saying that Singer follows the comics note for note as he does change things, but doesn't destroy it like what Josh Trank did to Fant4stic and while Brian's version of the X-men allows the viewer to appreciate that any changes made to the team are for the better like how skillfully Singer handles the character of Jean Gray and her hidden abilities as he reinterprets this variation by still bestowing her this power but using it to develop Jean as a character and allows the viewer to see the abilities she has and at the same time, Singer treats her along with the viewing audience and the fans with the utmost admiration while another fine case in Singer's abilities of character analysis is taking a villain like William Stryker who was a religious fanatic in the comics and turning him into a more dangerous bigot who still retrains some of his original holier-than-thou attitude but making Stryker a military man makes him even more ruthless and evil allowing Singer to give us a more complex and developed villain with a clear-cut plan and by adding in important sub-plots and characters that are used effectively make the movie what it is.
The movie's screenplay is able to juggle it's vast amount of characters without feeling too rushed as it gives each hero and villain a decent amount of development as well as has a change to have their moment without the movie feeling too cumbersome while there are plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the comics that don't endanger the course of the story. The movie also has a lot more smooth action scenes than the first one including Nightcrawler's spectacular attack on the White House and Wolverine slicing and dicing Stryker's men during the attack on the X mansion while John Ottman gives us some incredible and catchy themes that complement the movie while the editing and cinematography are to a high level.
Of course, the movie would be nothing without it's cast and it delivers that on a silver platter. Ian McKellan continues to show his acting credibility as Magneto and he doesn't hold back when it comes to the malice and warmongering, yet brings a level of class to the character as does Patrick Stewart as Professor X by conveying a relaxed grace as well as all the characteristics of a father figure and leader while Halle Berry brings the usual believability and truthfulness to the role of Strom. Anna Paquin is back as Rouge and gives a fantastic performance as does James Marsden as Cyclops, even if he's given little to do, Rebecca Romjin once again brings a dangerous edge to Mystique. Shawn Ashmore is believable as Iceman, showing great emotional range while being very likable. Aaron Stanford is great as Pyro, Famkie Jensen is again fantastic as Jean Grey and is given quite a lot of development which makes her all the more relatable. Allan Cummings is fantastic as Nightcrawler while Brian Cox plays a wonderfully menacing William Stryker. Hugh Jackman once again kills it as Wolverine and has completely made the role his own from the action scenes to the emotional moments.
Go watch this movie, it's truly awesome.