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X2: X-MEN-UNITED

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Bryan Singerís 1999 X-Men, the first film adaptation of the 40-year-old pulp franchise, expertly courted everyoneís inner teenager. For nearly half of X2: X-Men United, Singerís knack for anticipating and acting out current events and anxieties prevails, as does his talent for turning the overwhelming visuals of an f/x-heavy fantasy into a witty, ironic, and poetic mise-en-scène. After a foiled opening assault on the president by the Teutonic teleporter Nightcrawler (Alan Cummings looking like a Satanic chimney sweep in blackface and with a pointed tail), helicopters full of US Special Forces attack Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his School for Gifted Children, the wheelchair-bound mentorís base of operations for training young mutants to co-exist with normal humans. But was Xavier behind the attack on the president? Or was it Magneto (Ian McKellen), Xavierís alter ego, an all-powerful mutant capable of mentally manipulating metal and dedicated to wiping out humanity? Or the mutant-hating Stryker (Brian Cox), a shadowy, Cheney-like government operative? All this is, up to a point, told with clarity, panache, and provocative insinuation. The big showdown, however, sputters, with about four different and equally confusing parallel narratives taking place, each highlighted by handsome if pointless action sequences. In addition, numerous characters confront their various neuroses and screwed-up relationships, and it all gets a little silly. (135m)


Issue Date: November 28 - December 4, 2003
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