X2 a wild ride for the X-Men and for us

I've never heard of this site before, and the name is a curiosity, but they have up a current X2 review/article so they're alright with me.
Ithaca, 24 May 03 -- Everyone wants to make a comic-book movie. After the successes of the Superman and Batman franchises of the late '70s through early '90s, things were quiet until Marvel's X-Men took to the silver screen. While Superman and Batman had been part of pop culture for decades, X-Men proved that not-quite-mainstream comics could put our butts in the seats in a big way. Last year's Spider-Man picked up the baton, and we can only hope that this summer's heavily CGI'd Hulk isn't too distracting in its lack of realism.

This month's release of X2 proves that sequels needn't be mere shadows of the original films, thinly veiled attempts to rake in as much revenue as possible from a franchise before it goes sour. If anything, without the need for the exposition of the original, this smart, smooth sequel may even have surpassed the first film.

X2 is a beautiful movie in many ways, from gorgeous arctic vistas to the stark beauty of Magneto's sterile plastic cage, but it's also worth noting that the ensemble cast includes some alarmingly attractive actors, both men and women. 20-year-old Anna Paquin, a minor when the first movie was made, can now be a little more overtly sexy as "Rogue," and Shawn Ashmore as her boyfriend Bobby has graduated from little kid status to teen hunk, as well. (He's actually in his mid 20s.)

Hugh Jackman's scruffiness as Wolverine is a really amusing contrast to everyone else's perfect smoothness -- with the possible exception of the bumpy, blue, and naked Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique. Her character, of course, is attractive in her own special way.

Make no mistake, X2 is no fluff piece, distracting us from absence of plot with plenty of eye candy. It's a tautly scripted film with a few surprises, a few twists, and enough disturbing violence along the way that we're reluctant to suggest this one for kids. (It's rated PG-13 with good reason. Most kids under 10 are probably too young.)

Speaking of youngsters, while the film is heavily populated with teenage students from Dr. Xavier's school, and the youthful X-Men themselves (mostly in their 20s and 30s), elders Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen practically steal the show. These two, as Dr. Xavier and Magneto, respectively, bring a tremendous gravity to their performances that serves to anchor the movie. Neither of these classically trained actors, who've played such characters as Captain Picard and Gandalf, takes himself too seriously, or we doubt they'd be able to pull this off so well.

The movie features a plot to turn the government against the mutants (oh no, not again), but the perpetrator has an ulterior motive -- he's bent on revenge. Stopping him requires some extra teamwork and some sacrifice, and the movie's ending not only wraps up the crisis in a satisfactory way, but also sets the stage for X3. We can't wait.
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