The MPAA rated X2: X-Men United (2003)
PG-13 for sci-fi action/violence, some sexuality and brief
Another mutant uprising is about to begin, and this time
its a lot more difficult to tell who the good
and bad guys really are. And that alone makes
this sequel a much better film than the first mutant movie.
This time the X-Men face a human challenge in the form of
General William Stryker (Brian Cox). An ex-military man, hes
assigned the task of getting control over the mutant problem
after a cloaked invader, capable of swishing from room to
room with ease, overruns the White House. But Strykers
dislike for the malformed populace runs far deeper than his
assignment to keep things in check. He also has more than
guns to use for artillery.
Stryker has managed to get a fix on Professor Charles Xaviers
(Patrick Stewart) School for Gifted Children, the headquarters
where young people who are identified as having special gifts
are taught to use them within society in peaceful and productive
ways. This information can enable Stryker to eliminate the
hub of mutant education, and gain control of Xaviers
Cerebro machine, so he can identify and eliminate every deviant
His far-reaching designs have all mutants concerned, including
Erik Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen), better known as the rebellious
Magneto. The only choice for this leader of all
that isnt good in the world of the odd and gifted is
to form a reluctant pact with Xavier in the hopes of thwarting
Strykers evil plans.
From a script point of view, it shouldnt be a great
surprise when the second installment of a three movie series
is better than its predecessor. We are already familiar with
most of the characters, the exceptions being Stryker, a teleporter
mutant named Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming)
who is also a practicing Catholic, and a few additional Junior
X-Men. This foreknowledge allows writers to spend more
screen time developing the story, which, in this case, is
paced superbly with some very cool tricks.
After promotional promises of edgier and darker,
the sequel's emphasis on plot rather than violent scenarios
came as a pleasant surprise. Dont take that to mean
your six-year-old should be headed to the theater. There are
still plenty of fierce confrontations, including an opportunity
for Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to pull out his bladed knuckles.
Finally, youll also see more of Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos)
in more ways than one. Reprising her former role, the body-painted
female's extra time on screen includes using her torso as
a convenient background during an extended close-up of her
mentor, Magneto. She also provides two of the films
brief sensual interludes.
X2: X-Men United presents a difficult choice for parents.
Few movies aimed at teens provide this much action along with
complex characters showing cooperation and determination.
Yet this will need to be weighed against the movies
noted violence, brief sexuality, and handful of profanities.
Just like these new X-Men, parents will have to determine
whats good and bad for their families.