BIG Reviews: The X Factor - X-Men 2; Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patriick Stewart, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Aaron Stanford, Shawn Ashmore, Bruce Davison, Kelly Hu, Kea Wong, Cotter Smith
THIS is more like it! As thrilling as the first X-Men movie was, it fell considerably short of expectations, barely delving beneath the surface of the mythology surrounding the Marvel Comics superheroes.
X-Men 2 surpasses the original in graceful leaps and bounds, delivering a blitzkrieg of explosions, computer generated special effects and bone- crunching stunts.
Director Bryan Singer affords himself a great deal more time (a generous 133 minutes) to flesh out characters from the first adventure and introduce a host of new mutants, without skimping on substance or style. He delivers a lean, muscular and exhilarating thrill ride with surprising emotional depth that should have audiences salivating for further films in the series.
X-Men 2 opens where the original ended, with dastardly villain Magneto (McKellen) incarcerated in his plastic prison and Professor Xavier (Stewart) striving to combat human prejudice towards the mutants. All of the Professor's good work comes to nought when an assassin called Nightcrawler (Cumming), who possesses the ability to teleport himself instantaneously, successfully overcomes the White House defences and threatens the life of US President McKenna (Smith).
Shaken by the experience and fearful of further attacks on himself and his people, McKenna relents on his softly-softly approach and empowers renegade General William Stryker (Cox), a staunch advocate of the Mutant Registration Act, to neutralise the threat posed by Xavier and his cohorts.
Stryker orchestrates a devastating assault on X-Men mansion, taking several mutant children and Professor Xavier hostage, and his troops commandeer the Cerebros, a vast spherical chamber used to mentally connect with every mutant around the world. The deranged general's cunning scheme is to modify the equipment so he can destroy all mutants through telepathic thought. …