X2: X-Men United

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By Mark Ramsey | 2003/05/03

“Mutant” isn’t a very nice label, but I suppose it’s better than calling the rest of us “special-effects challenged.”

Are mutants the next link in the chain of human evolution? Well, Reality TV says “yes!” And thanks to the existence of Anna Nicole Smith the case is closed! Magneto, meet Percodan-o!

It has been three years since the first X-Men and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos still keeps her acting to a minimum which coincides in fine proportion to her talent. At the computer she does, however, prove she can type 90 words a minute – just not in any decipherable language.

Once again, Captain Picard headmasters a school for mutants – the only one of its kind unless you count the development department at the Fox network.

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I learned something in this movie: Evidently men, not women, carry the mutant gene – and what woman would disagree?

When we left him after the first movie, the Wolverine was searching for his roots, and roots he has in abundance. “You turned me into an indestructible machine with switchblade knuckles,” Wolverine screams at the mad scientist who transformed him, “so couldn’t you have finished the job with some good depilatory and waxing products?”

Halle Berry returns, post-Oscar, with a wig that’s late model Barbara Stanwyck. “I’m gonna go get the jet ready,” says Halle as “Storm.”

Get the jet ready!?

What exactly was she intending to do? Hang some jackets in first class? Restock the onboard Revlon products?

Wouldn’t it be great to be a mutant? Although with my luck, my super power would be a furiously razor-sharp wit – a talent particularly unsuited to battle since it tends to sail over people’s heads. I’d be “Lampoon-o,” which is not a cool name in spite of the root word “poon.”

Indeed, what are the skills of most of these mutants good for? Where’s the practical value in turning stuff to ice or sticking out a forked tongue? Now maybe if they were office managers who turned stuff to ice or x-ray technicians with forked tongues, that could be something!

Alan Cumming’s Nightcrawler is a very spiritual blue guy. “He’s a good boy,” said his dad, Rev. Billy Graham, “and Mama Smurf and I are proud of him.” Nightcrawler evokes maximum sympathy like all great movie monsters since Boris Karloff first grunted in Frankenstein.

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In a match-up of World Wrestling Entertainment proportions and a vivid illustration of why kids shouldn’t play with knives, Wolverine goes all Edward Scissorhands with Kelly Hu. Kelly has one line of dialogue in the entire movie, but as she points out, “looking good is harder to remember than talking, anyway.”

So the good mutants and the evil mutants collaborate to fight a threat to all mutants. It’s the mutants in black leather outfits versus the military-industrial complex in camouflage. As a general cinematic rule, the edge always goes to black leather outfits.

I liked the first X-Men, and I like X2: X-Men United even more. I’m a sucker for a big summer movie with a message as ambitious as the whiz-bang video game effects are grand.

X2, even more than its predecessor, is about the power of choice in the face of prejudice and the sad relationship between cruelty and fear.

Maybe if we humans are lucky, those in the audience for this movie will understand that it isn’t about “mutants” at all.


Photos Copyright ©2003 20th Century Fox

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