Sunday, 6 February 2011

Film Review: X2 [2003]

EDIT (2013): WARNING - I wrote these reviews aaaaages ago and possibly don't even agree with them any more.  I have since discovered that one sentence reviews are a lot more fun.  Please see One Sentence Film Reviews tab.

Never besting its exciting opening, X2 is a disappointment.

After the heart-pounding thrills of a teleporting attack on the president, X2 returns to the familiar characters.  The previous film ended with Wolverine going off to learn about his past, so this film has to start with it.  He turns up at a dam, can’t see anything and leaves.  This is because the plot isn’t ready for him to be here yet, but since the finale is set here and it turns out if he had tried actually looking or using those, y’know, super senses of his, he would have found stuff out right at the start, he looks like an idiot.  The film could easily come up with a reason why he doesn’t get there at the start, but no, up he turns, moron he is.

Back he goes to the X-Mansion so the plot can get going. 

Professor X gets incapacitated again, leaving the X-Men to fend for themselves again, and apparently they’re still useless without him, while Cyclops (an utterly wasted James Marsden) just drops out of the film, which is infuriating since he could be a really interesting character if he was allowed any screen time.

Jean and Storm, or the coma-duo, get to hang out and be boring and take valuable screen time away from everyone else.  Nightcrawler is introduced, and is impossibly sweet, but isn’t allowed to do much, which feels like a waste of a good make-up job.

Wolverine is left to babysit the kids, and they are immediately kidnapped, scattered and made homeless.  Good one there.  Poor Rogue (Anna Paquin still effortlessly getting the BEST THING IN IT AWARD) is stuck in the crèche with Bobby and Pyro, the dweeb twins (look, they’re ideological opposites, isn’t that fascinating?).  Bobby wants to kiss Rogue, apparently not taking the whole it will kill him problem seriously enough, and Pyro wants to blow stuff up.  No, please, give them just as much screen time as Rogue.  Pyro gets to boast he’s the worst (as in most dangerous) mutant there is.  Uh, no, that would be Rogue.  Can we make a film about Rogue, please?  We do learn that Bobby’s brother is the most despicable brat on the planet, but that still doesn’t make Bobby interesting.

The goodies are eventually forced to team up with the Brotherhood, but considering this consists of two people, who spend most of their time sitting in the corner, campily giggling at Rogue, they’re not the most threatening of partners.  Seriously, let Rogue touch them, end of problem.  This mix has to stop the world’s most uninteresting villain.  Superheroes shouldn’t fight humans.  It’s boring. 

Even so, the X-Men struggle because without their leaders (Professor X or Cyclops), they’re a bunch of dumb brats.  Wolverine is faced with his past in Stryker, which, since we’ve never seen Stryker before, fails to engage.  Jean finds Cyclops (so that’s what happened to him) and he tries to kill her.  Is it because he’s under mind control or because she’s still flirting with Wolverine because he’s a ‘bad boy’?  Nightcrawler gets to rescue the Professor, but is lumbered with Storm as if there’s some kind of connection between him being nice and her being incomprehensibly grumpy all the time even though she looks perfectly normal, has unbelievably powerful er powers and was once worshipped as a god.  Must be a tough life for her.  Rogue, Bobby and Pyro are made to sit the finale out because they’re just babies, so that leaves the villains to run free.

The entire film consists of: the characters are split up and eventually they meet up again.  There is no payoff to them separately or as a team.  For a film about a group, there is no group effort. 

The characters, if they have anything to do at all, are unconvincing.  Rogue is always the most interesting and convincing character in the X-Men universe, doubly so with Paquin’s acting, but she seriously needs to be in the film far more, while dullards like Jean should stop hogging the camera. 

The plot of X2 is basic and yet unnecessarily convoluted and unconvincing, plodding along slowly and dully, getting going with no set-up and skipping the middle.  Too much of the dialogue is clunky and just there for exposition, and yet somehow little is explained.  The character development doesn’t follow on from the first film and is handled badly; there’s barely any development.  X2 is like an early draft that meandered about and never got anywhere, but for some reason actually made it to the screen.  Yeah, sure glad they didn’t waste the whole sequel opportunity.


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