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X-MenII-Twice the money, but not twice the film
X Men 2 (DVD)
Member Name: jonnyfun06
X Men 2 (DVD)
Advantages: Expands on the first
Disadvantages: Loses its way slightly on story line
X Men 2 picks up where the first film left off, with Wolverine heading north to Alkali Lake to explore his mysterious past. But while he is out of contact, relationships between mutants and humanity deteriorate further when a blue-skinned mutant makes an attempt on the life of the President.
Following this, a military scientist named William Stryker convinces the President to order a military intervention on a known stronghold of the mutants, Charles Xavier's academy. Professor X orders his X Men to investigate the attack on the President, to mitigate the harm it has caused. Storm and Jean Grey attempt to track down the would-be assassin, while Charles visits his old friend Magneto in his plastic prison. Wolverine returns in time to be left babysitting the younger mutants in the mansion. Which is when Stryker's forces attack.
Stryker has more intricate plans than just a little shock and awe, and with Professor X and Cerebro at the heart of his scheme, courtesy of a mind control serum; the war between Mutants and Mankind has truly been joined.
X Men 2 gets a top-notch 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer, resounding in clarity and a joy to behold.
The production design for the film is excellent, building on the splendid work done for the first film, although the X-Plane gets a redesign to suit the demands of the second story. We have also reached that point where effects are limited only by one's imagination and wallet, so this allows for plenty of stunning set pieces in this film.
You have a choice between DD 5.1 and DTS English, with optional English subtitles. The sound design for this film is sublime. Once you have seen the opening sequence, with Nightcrawler making his way around the White House, you'll want to kiss your speakers in gratitude for the experience. An outstanding musical score, clear dialogue, it is the textbook definition of a perfect audio track.
A 2-disc Special Edition means oodles of extra goodness for your delectation. But this time, there is an 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach that means it's all a little hit and miss.
Aside from the film though, all that Disc 1 contains are the commentaries. The first is with director Bryan Singer and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, while the second features producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter with writers David Hayter, Dan Harris and Mike Dougherty. But since both tracks pretty much cover the same ground about the film's making of, you wonder why they bothered with the repetition. If it's worth anything, Singer's commentary is a little dry and gappy, while Donner's is more light-hearted. Both are optionally subtitled in English.
Disc 2 contains the rest of the copious extra features, divided into appropriate sections.
History Of The X-Men contains The Secret Origin of the X-Men, which lasts 15 minutes and takes us from the first comics all the way to first film, as well as Nightcrawler Reborn, which lasts 8 minutes and is an exploration of the character.
Pre Production has three featurettes. Nightcrawler Attack is one of those multi-angle featurettes that looks at the opening sequence of the film, from storyboard to final product. Evolution in the Details: Designing X2 sees Guy Dyas take us on a tour of the many sets of the film, and discuss the production design. This lasts 18 minutes. To round off this section there is a United Colours of X featurette that looks at the Costume design over 9 minutes.
The meatiest section of the disc is Production, which contains 6 featurettes. Wolverine/Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal is just that and lasts 90 seconds, with a couple of stunt performers having fun with knives.
Introducing The Incredible Nightcrawler sees actor Alan Cumming talk about his memorable character for 10 minutes. This is accompanied by a 4-minute time-lapse film of the make up being applied, as well as a 3-minute Nightcrawler stunt rehearsal, which just appears to be one of the angles from the earlier featurette.
FX2 lasts 25 minutes and looks at the special effects sequences in the film. Technically this should be in post-production, but as there are also some stunt sequences highlighted it doesn't make much difference. Finally, and most significantly is an hour long making of featurette, where the cast and crew all contribute to the behind the scenes look at the movie.
Post Production has a couple of bits. Requiem For Mutants: The Music of X 2 pretty much speaks for itself, and lasts 12 minutes, while X2 Global Webcast Highlights sees snippets of interviews with the cast and crew that were originally broadcast on the Internet, and lasts 17 minutes.
There are 11 deleted scenes in all, and as most of them really only add a few extra frames they are mostly superfluous. There are 3 trailers and copious stills and sketches in the Galleries.
X Men 2 is the ideal summer blockbuster, building on the first film, and in almost every way a bigger and more stunning experience, certainly delivering more bang for the buck, while retaining the sensibilities and strength of character that so defined the first film as something special. It's certainly a joy to see these fantastic characters fulfilling their potential with a mega-effects budget behind them.
The story is much more epic, fitting the set-up of the first film, that of a war between mutants and humanity, and every dramatic moment in the film is given suitable weight. Yet I can't help preferring the first film to the second, despite its more obvious flaws.
The strength of character remains at the forefront for the sequel, although in some respects this has become the Wolverine and Storm show. Hugh Jackman once again embodies Wolverine, and his search for his past lies at the heart of the second story. Halle Berry swaps wigs, and more noticeably loses the accent, as she dominates more of the proceedings. It's a positive move as we get to see what Storm is capable of as a mutant.
Once again, it is down to Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart to lend gravitas to the film as Magneto and Xavier. Such powerhouse performances at the heart of what is essentially a comic book movie give it a strength that gives appeal to a wide audience. The addition of Brian Cox as Stryker simply adds to this.
Character interactions are finely observed, and I love the dynamic that forms between Nightcrawler and Storm, as the two debate the comparative values of anger and faith. Rogue and Bobby supply the emotional arc of the film to a lesser extent, as the two attempt a romance despite their powers, but more central is the flirtation between Wolverine and Jean Grey, although for the second film running, it means that poor Cyclops is sidelined for much of the film.
Making much more of an impact, both visually and dramatically is the character of Pyro, rebellious mutant with an impulse control problem.
Set pieces in the film are truly spectacular, not just for the profusion of digital effects, but because they reveal the characters that have only been hinted at in the first film. Wolverine finally gets to cut loose with those adamantium claws of his when Stryker's men attack the mansion. Nightcrawler has one of the most memorable entrances in movie history, Storm literally brews up her namesake when the X Plane comes under attack, and Mystique's assault on Stryker's base is brilliantly choreographed. Then there is the whole Jean Grey/Phoenix storyline that is set into motion here to awesome effect.
While X Men 2 continues with the alienation and discrimination allegory from the first film, I feel that in its rush to present an epic and meaningful storyline, it has sacrificed a little something. While there is no danger of the characters slipping into caricature, there is a sense that unlike the first film, there is not much of an attempt to present them as more than just their powers, which sort of goes against the message of the film.
As part of a series it matters less, as the first film did the important part of the character development, but as a stand-alone film, this hurts it, with really only the Nightcrawler coming across as fully developed and rounded. I also feel that the sequel has lost the intimacy of the first. It's a bigger film, the budget is apparent with every frame, but it no longer seems as if the characters drive the story. The relationship that formed between Rogue and Wolverine is pretty much absent here, yet it was at the core of the first film.
X Men 2 stands out in terms of spectacle most certainly, and the story is excellent, but what made the first film so special was its humanity for want of a better word, and that's one reason why I still prefer it.
X Men 2 is great entertainment, but the passage of time has allowed me to reflect, and it's lost some of its lustre. Compared to the first film it is very much a big budget event movie, and while the strength of character and depth of story is still there, the message just as powerfully conveyed, there is just a hint of coldness and contrivance about the whole thing. The disc itself is splendid, great picture and sound and a bucket-load of extras promising value for money. For fans this is an easy purchase.
Summary: Not a bad sequel.