One of the better, but not one of the best, in the franchise is 2003’s X2. It is the second entry in the X-Men superhero franchise, it’s directed by Bryan Singer and starts Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen.
I say that it is not one of the best in the franchise and that is mostly due to the story. It is never as complex or as smart or as interesting as ‘X-Men: First Class‘. First of all, the clever dialogue is mostly missing here in favor of the action which is unfortunate. Also, some of the plot elements do not quite mesh together and the movie is filled with too much characters and subplots thus never properly exploring every aspect. The first act or so is really good as is the ending. The finale is so powerful with a positive character’s sacrifice. It is dark and really dangerous and filled with consequences which was much needed. And it wrapped up beautifully in my opinion as all of the characters got their proper ending. But the middle of the film is unfortunately filled with too much action and some unnecessarily dragged sequences.
The characters are mostly superb as always in this well written franchise. The emphasis on both Professor X and Magneto is a big plus and their scenes, especially together, are excellent. Now, Jean Grey and Storm I never particularly cared for, but at least Jean had a powerful scene in the ending and her story is quite good whereas Storm is mostly flat. Mystique is quite good, but I still prefer the one played by Jennifer Lawrence in the future installments. Cyclops is annoying, but the rivalry between him and Wolverine is again funny. And speaking of Wolverine, he is great and he’s definitely got the best action sequences this time around. Nightcrawler is quite interesting and of course that scene with him in the opening scene is extremely memorable and well executed, but I still felt that he was fairly underused. Iceman is really good and his relationship with parents and that confession scene definitely has a parallel in the real world. Rogue is also good, but a lost potential as she is underused and Pyro is intriguing and his turn to the dark side is well handled. But the problem here is that all of the characters are good, but thanks to the film’s overcrowded nature, most rarely get a moment to shine.
Now, the acting is phenomenal. Of course Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are terrific and Hugh Jackman steals the show. But all of the other actors and actresses did a really good job with their performances. The action I overall liked. There are some really entertaining action pieces, most notably the opening with Nightcrawler and the fight between Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine is really well done. But there are some sequences that are not as well realized and the action tends to overwhelm at times. The movie is well filmed and directed. The visual effects are absolutely spectacular for the time with greatly used make-up as well. The photography I was not a big fan of as it was often too dark. The movie is smart for its real-life incorporated themes with politics and minority groups, but it is never as good as in the later installments. And the character moments and emotional scenes are definitely there, but far through and between. The biggest problem in X2 is pacing, it is all over the place. It is at times rushed, at times dragged, but always poorly done. And of course, it’s so incredibly overblown clocking in at over two hours which was highly unnecessary.