Saturday, May 03, 2003

X2: X-Men United (IMDB) (Netflix)
Let the sequels begin. Including "prequels," there will be 25 of them this summer, a record, so settle back and wallow in the old-pair-of-sneakers derivative-ness. You really have no choice.

The beleaguered mutants now face a neo-conservative General Stryker (Brian Cox), who has adopted a pre-emptive strike doctrine and tactics of impressive cynicism and cunning. The survivors of round one are back, freshened by a teleporting, blue-skinned, spiritually troubled Alan Cumming.

As sequels go, this might not be Godfather II, but it's not the second Cannonball Run, either. Little time is wasted on character development (you should have been paying attention during the first installment), which means we can get right to the action, special effects and alienation/diversity issues, all of which have been racheted up in intensity and competence. While too-often this sequel turbo-charging seems desperate and draining, here it's an improvement—this is a comic book movie after all, balanced with moral ambition and a bittersweet ending that lingers on the brain.