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  Film Reviews: The Mutants Are Back In Town: X-Men 2  

Thursday, May 29
The Mutants Are Back In Town: X-Men 2
Ah, it’s back! That’s right, the Summer Blockbuster Season (SBS). And like last year’s “Spiderman” start, we begin again with a Marvel Comics adaptation. But not just an adaptation -–a SEQUEL! Now, for the uninitiated, or for those that think I was a little too excited about Oscar Season – know that this part of the year is almost as fun. Sure, these are rarely Oscar-caliber films, but they’re a GREAT TIME! The key is not to take yourself too seriously - you need to understand that there are certain truths that are held throughout the entire SBS.

1. These movies are BIG. HUGE – if it’s not the stars, it’s the FX, if it’s not the FX it’s the music, if it’s not the music, it’s the budget. It’s just big.
2. Advertising. There’s no way that you won’t know this movie’s coming – you will see TV Ads, you’ll see multiple previews, entire magazines will be devoted to the film, you’ll hear radio ads and you’ll notice that Dan Rather will start serious news segments with “can Gamma Rays really increase your body mass?”
3. The Obvious Product Placement (OPP). Oh, baby. This is the true “cha-ching!” of the SBS. You will see every imaginable product tied into the film – be it a cola, car, coffee or cosmetic product. Not only will the film be seen in the product, but the product will advertise itself as being part of the film – ah, the lovely world of marketing synthesis!
4. These movies will be designed to entertain. So, grab a popcorn, sit down and have a great time – to do any less would imply that a studio spent 100 million in vain.

X-Men 2 brings us back to a familiar set of faces. Perhaps being almost too clever in marketing, the anticipation of this sequel has not only been announced since the release of the first film but spawned a “tweener” sequel in the form of “X-Men 1.5,” a DVD re-release with more extras and sneak peaks into the new X-Men film.

So, does the hype live up? If you’re looking for “King Lear,” not so much. However, if you’re looking for a comic book adaptation that doesn't fall flat and delivers with great FX and is a fun way to spend some time at the movies – HECK YEAH.

If you are unmoved and unwilling to utter at least an internal “Wow!” at the opening sequence, you should stop by the Customer Service counter on the way out of the theater and ask if they happened to find your soul. If that doesn’t do it, failure for a certain escape sequence to impress you is solid proof that you’re dead and should stop wasting time with your needless breathing. We could use the extra oxygen.

The second X-Men is a bit more friendly for those that didn’t follow the comics. It is a story line relevant both to the comic realm and our own difficult lives. In this film, it is the mutants that are feared because so little is known outside of their potentially dangerous powers. Washington D.C. plays host to these fears where the National Mutant Registration Act is before congress. The mutants resist registration because most of them are, in fact, not evil. Mutants wish to live their lives, pay taxes and be good citizens.

And then THE THING HAPPENS. The potential fear is brought to the surface in the form of a mutant with the ability to teleport and powers are granted to shadow government agencies because fear rules reason.

This is a story that has played itself out a million times in history, so it should be no surprise that a near-future where humans have begun to evolve would continue with the same human foibles. This is the brilliant spark in the film. It is every bit of fun that the SBS is meant to be, but X-Men 2 goes above and beyond by toying with the idea that good and evil are entirely movable themes within a person.

Okay, if that’s too much, I could go on my Hugh Jackman adoration rant now, but space limits me to simply reminding all women that a shirtless Wolverine is always a good Wolverine.

The Usual:

What It’s Worth: Oh, c’mon, you’ll get ripped off a dozen more times – go and pay full-fare for this one. You’ll appreciate seeing this so much more in a large theater.

Annoying Theater Goer: Again, saw this in the reserved seats at the Arena Grand Balcony. I swear nothing bad ever happens in the balcony!

Main Reason To See This Film: The opening sequence alone seems to be all you need to make you happy, but a certain scene involving Magneto will make it all the more worthwhile. And instead of an action-figure-pushing sequel with no heart, we find an actual story with heart.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: Okay, the film is roughly 15 minutes too long. Most of this time is spent in short scenes that do little more than serve as commercials for the numerous product placements.

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Nudity: No (unless you count Rebecca Ramon-Stamos’ “nearly naked” latex costume).

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