X2 (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I'm not sure what some critics expect from a movie. I looked at the summary on metacritic, and some critics scored this 30/100.

About the only salient negative thing you can say about X2 is that you really don't care for this kind of movie. That I can understand, but if you are willing to rule out a certain type of film automatically, you really shouldn't be a critic. So for those of you who want every film to be Andrei Rublyov or Grand Illusion or The Seventh Seal, put on your turtle necks and head off to a small arthouse theater near Washington Square somewhere. If you have any interest in a film that looks and sounds like kick-ass entertainment, then X2 will suit you just fine.

To be fair to the arthouse critics, it possible to carp and say that X2 really doesn't have much of a structured plot. Some cool stuff happens, and then it's over. Some crises are averted, but nothing much gets resolved. That's true, but that fact is not much more relevant than the observation that the film is not Andrei Rublyov. This director knows how to make films with an intriguing plot. He made The Usual Suspects, fer chrissakes. But that's not what this type of film is about.

This film is about the look, the action, the style, loyalty, bravery, fighting for right, living in the moment. And how many superhero films center around actors on the level of Ian McKellan, Hugh Jackman, and Patrick Stewart? In addition to the fun of the mutant/human conflict, it also makes some serious points about how humans react when confronted with something different. The human/mutant relationship was shaped by the relationship between the Third Reich and its Jews. Both Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the co-creators of the characters, were raised in Jewish families in the first half of the twentieth century, and were well aware of The Nuremberg Laws, which stripped away the rights of Jews in The Third Reich from 1935 onward. When the first Nuremberg Laws were enacted in September of that year, Kirby was 18, Lee 13. The anti-Semitic events that transpired in the subsequent decade must have been the single most discussed topic among their families and friends, and the single thing which weighed most heavily on their minds. They later acted out all of their feelings through The X-Men. The measures proposed by humans to control the X-Men mutants are parallel to the measures used by the Nazis to control Jews.

Of course, there is nothing exclusively Jewish about the plight of the mutants. The mutants could represent Jews or gays or any oppressed minority. Director Bryan Singer is gay and Jewish and adopted, so he has some passion for a story about minority oppression and people looking for their true origin. (Read the BBC's interview with Bryan Singer. If you are interested in this film, the BBC did a kick-ass job on this site. On the Singer page, you'll see links to more interviews and unique X-Men info.)


None, but Rebecca Romijn runs around in her familiar "spray-paint and pasties" costume.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by director Brian Singer and cinematographer Tom Sigel

  • Commentary by producers Lauren Schuler Donner and Ralph Winter, and writers Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter

  • Documentary: "The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men: Making X2"

  • 11 featurettes: "The Secret Origin of X-Men," "Nightcrawler Reborn," "Evolution in the Details: Designing X2," "United Colors of X," "Wolverine/Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal," "Introducing the Incredible Nightcrawler!," "Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal," "Nightcrawler Time-lapse" (branch from Make-Up), "FX2: Visual Effects," "Requiem for Mutants: The Score of X2," "X2 Global Webcast Highlights"

  • "Nightcrawler Attack": interactive multi-angle scene study

  • 11 deleted/extended scenes

  • Galleries: characters, locations and sets, mutant x-rays, Nightcrawler circus posters, on-camera graphics, the unseen X2

  • Widescreen anamorphic format, 2.35

  • Number of discs: 2

Unlike most superhero films, this one allows some of the actors to show some real depth. The best new addition to the series was Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, who manages to bring a sweet, simple, and gentle spirit to the mutant band. He must be the most vulnerable mutant since Edward Scissorhands. ("Oh that Johnny Depp. He make-a me cry.")

The only real problem I have with the film is that there are too many characters, and I want to know more about some of the others, like the mysterious Mystique, the completely undeveloped Storm, and the angry Pyro - just what is he so pissed off about, anyway?

Unfortunately, just as in the comic books, our desire to know more about the characters is the hook they use to get us to watch the next one. I think the X-Men have been around for about 40 years in the comics, and Wolverine is still looking for a definitive answer about his earlier life. (One theory is that he may be thousands of years old.)

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4.

  • General UK consensus: two and half stars. Mail 6/10, Telegraph 8/10, Independent 2/10, Guardian 4/10, Times 4/10, Sun 7/10, Express 8/10, Mirror 8/10, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.9/10, Yahoo voters an A-.
  • Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $110 million for production, and the distribution/advertising costs are estimated around $30-40 million. The gross was $210 million in the USA, and another $190 million overseas. As I write this, it is the #5 film of the year.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a B-. It ain't perfect, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. Like its predecessor, it exhibited box office appeal beyond the usual fanboys (women rate it higher at IMDb than men do), and it nearly earned a universal "thumbs-up" from critics. It offers some kick-ass action, and you might even find your eyes misting over a couple of times.

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