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X2: X-Men United

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Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Welcome to sequel summer when just about every week your local multiplex will feature a follow-up to some movie that Hollywood has made money on in the past. In case you have one of those old fashioned calendars that places the beginning of summer in June, be advised that the studios have long since moved the date up to the first Friday in May. In the first of this never-ending stream of sequels, the live action version of the comic book X-Men returns in X2, which you can expect to set a box office record of some sort.

A saga of mutants trying to peacefully co-exist with humans while fighting the evil members of both species, the story this time starts off with a bang as Kurt Wagner invades the Oval Office. A mutant known also known as the Nightcrawler, Wagner is played for much needed comic relief by Alan Cumming (JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS).

Although frequently inventive and fun, X2 too often gets bogged down in long ponderous scenes. A frustrating film, it suffers a bad case of bloating, as if the director felt obligated to make the sequel bigger, more complex and more expensive than the first film. Just when you are ready to write off the picture entirely, it comes right back to delight you with some sizzling scene of mutant violence or comic book action. But every time you're ready to cut it some slack, the story starts drifting aimlessly again.

What works consistently this time is an even larger number of cute creatures, er, characters. There are so many that the studio could make considerable money by selling programs in the lobby so that viewers could keep track of the actors, the characters and their associated special powers. From freezing people to walking through walls, every mutant has his or her own trick.

Even if movie has some spectacular moments, it would probably best be viewed on video when you can fast-forward past the dead spots.

X2 runs too long at 2:15. It is rated PG-13 for "sci-fi action/violence, some sexuality and brief language" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 14, and I really split on this movie. Whereas I only enjoyed it sporadically, he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it, saying that he found it better than X-MEN. He especially liked all of the extra mutants and the way the movie had more of a comic book feel than the first one. It was a full **** experience for him.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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