Tuesday, August 6, 2013

X2: Wolverine's X-istential Crisis

In 2003 the next movie in the X-Men film franchise hit theaters harder than its predecessor. X2: X-Men United surpassed the first movie in story quality, character development, amount of mutants, and length (clocking in at just over two hours). It was (and still is) just a better movie.
Also in amount of blue-skinned mutants.
While X-Men focused mainly on Rogue, the sequel is all about everybody's favorite metallic-clawed Canadian, Wolverine. Maybe that's why it's better than the first film. But this time around Logan isn't entirely the tough-skinned bad ass from before. Now, he wants to know about his past.
The story picks up right where the previous movie left off. Wolverine has headed up north to try to remember what made him the clawed, metal-skeleton-ed, cigar smoking Canuck he is. He gets to Alkali Lake, a location the professor found in his mind, and finds nothing.
When Logan returns home, Prof. Xavier puts him in charge of the mansion while the other adults go off on separate missions: Storm and Jean Grey to find a mutant who attacked the president, and the professor and Cyclops (James Marsden) to visit Magneto.
Unfortunately, the mansion is attacked by colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox) and his men while Logan is in charge. Stryker has long been fighting the "mutant problem" and just recently got permission from the government to attack the Xavier School because it houses mutants. After getting the mutant teens out of danger, Logan exchanges words with Stryker, who seems to know about his forgotten past before escaping with the teens. During this time, Stryker had kidnapped Prof. X and Cyclops during their visit to Magneto.
The colonel heads to the dam at Alkali Lake (his base) and re-introduces the professor to his son, one of Xavier's former students and a telepath of immense strength. The colonel has hooked his son up to a series of machines in order to create a serum that gives Stryker control of other mutants (which is how he was getting information from Magneto).
At this point, Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), the blue shape-shifting mutant, uses her abilities to break Magneto out of his plastic prison. Meanwhile, Logan, Rouge, Iceman (Rogue's boyfriend), and Pyro) are picked up by Storm and Jean in the X-Jet (which is not shaped like an "X").
The X-Men fly to Alkali Lake in order to save Prof. X and Cyclops, on the way they meet up with Magneto and his blue-skinned lady friend. Enemies become temporary comrades as Magneto explains Stryker's plan: using a replica of Xavier's supercomputer, Cerebro (which amplifies Xavier's telepathic abilities), and his son's mind control powers to force Prof. X to kill every mutant.
Logan and co. break into the dam to stop Stryker. Wolverine learns that the colonel actually had a hand coated his skeleton in adamantium as a way of making Logan a better killing machine and then fights and beats the crap out of a creepy Asian female version of himself, Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) who acts as Stryker's assistant.

Looks like somebody needs to clip their fingernails.
Jean finds Cyclops, who is unfortunately under Stryker's control and uses her telekinetic powers to prevent him from killing her. She sends one of his eye beams back at him, which then hits the dam wall causing water to rush in.
Magneto slips into the crappily built Cerebro and changes things up. Now, Xavier will kill all of the humans.
The magnetic mutant and Mystique escape and take Pyro along with them, convincing him that being evil is more fun.
Storm frees Prof. Xavier before he can actually kill anyone. The X-Men escape the dam and board on the X-Jet, but the dam has broke and a massive amount of water rushes toward them. Jean uses her powers to hold the water back and sacrifices herself to save everyone else.
"I'm sorry I caused the flood in the first place, you guys."
Professor Xavier and the group head back to the mansion to mourn the loss of Jean and continue on with life as normal. Or as normally as you can when you have crazy superpowers and most of the human race wants you dead. Also, this vague and barely visible phoenix shape in the water means Jean didn't die.
You can just barely see the foreshadowing.
While X2: X-Men United runs a little longer than the first movie, causing it to be a little slow in the middle, it is a better movie. It has an easier time juggling the development of so many characters, has a much more compelling story, and is just all around more entertaining than X-Men.
It was 100% a step in the right direction for the X-Men film franchise. Director Bryan Singer had a clear idea of where he was going to take this series in future installments. Unfortunately, Singer left the series in 2006 to direct a different superhero movie without telling anyone else his plans. The resulting attempt at a "three-quel" caused the X-Men movie series to begin falling apart and become the mess it is today (a mess that will be cleaned up next summer).
Was it worth it, Bryan? Was it?

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