With all the hype surrounding this summers blockbuster sequels, not the least of which is The Matrix Reloaded, as well as having to fight the ghost of Comic-book-movie-bombs-from-summers-past, it goes without saying that a
lot of hopes and dreams were riding high on the shoulders of everyone involved in Fox's second big screen outing for everyone's favorite team o superheroes. Brian Singer himself must've been sweating adamantium bullets, not only being held under the gun by the studio to lead their next big moneymaker, but most importantly and fortunately for us because of his deep and honest desire to make the most accurate and cohesive comic book-to-film adaptation in the history of cinema. Well Brian I am thrilled to say that that is precisely what has been achieved with your amazing film X2: X-Men United!
It has become rarer and rarer to find a film that has the ability to grab your senses and lock your attention so firmly, not ever letting up until the credits role, such as this film does. One might only be able to count a handful of films where a sequel takes all of the good elements form it's predecessor, completely eliminates the things that didn't work or fit in the original, then goes on to not only exceed the expectations and hype surrounding it, but completely redefines and elevates it's genre. From this day forward let it be known that all other Comic Book films will hereby be judged and held up the new level of excellence set by Brian Singer's brilliant X-Men 2. And if ya' can't already tell, I kinda' like this flick! ; )
I am sure many of you would love to know exactly what makes this film worth spending your money on? Well, to try and sum it up the characters, their struggles, their dreams, their relationships, they all MATTER because infused throughout this entire production and at isn't core lies HEART! And at the same time the film can be both touching as well as possess a gritty and visceral quality, giving each in attendance license to participate in the action as an outlet for their frustrations and monotony of their everyday lives. Just as I felt as if I was part of the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings, so here again I feel like I am part of the X-Men team.
But what really drives my excitement is Brian Singer's seemingly boundless ability to correctly interpret the true spirit of the X-Men comics. Individually, as a team, hero and villain alike, he has somehow tapped into the heart of these books and like the title says, united them in a film that defied my highest expectations and ignites my imagination. This is however not to say that he hasn't altered things from the comics. But unlike other directors from the past who have butchered comic book adaptations, Singer's interpretation of the characters lets you understand that any changes that were made were for the best. Prime examples of this can be found in how deftly he handles Jean Grey and the silent discovery of her Phoenix powers. Understanding that it would be totally impossible for him to try and take the Phoenix Saga and directly translate that to film, Singer has rightly decided to do what lesser directors would have cowered at; to re-interpret this change, still showing Jean Grey inherit this power, but to use it to build on her character, and realize HER potential more than most writers of the comics have done in recent memory. At the same time treating the character with respect as well as both we the audience and the dedicated fans of the comics with that same respect and maturity. Another example of his skills in character interpretation is the way in which he has taken the religious zealot that was William Stryker in the comics and turned him into a much more menacing zealot shill clinging to the original characters' self righteous justifications. But by giving him the military background and simultaneously making Mastermind his son, as well as merging the scientists who created Wolverine and Deathstryke, Singer serves up an extremely multilayered and more well rounded Stryker with a very clear agenda. Brian singer accomplishes all of this at the same time he is sewing up crucial sub-plots and characters that are ingeniously and potently utilized.
To illustrate the difference between how Brian Singer and the writers/producers for X2 utilize the material and do so intelligently making us pay more attention to the details, and alternately how so many of us have gotten used to dumbed down films that lead us deliberately, treating most of us like children, to their obvious conclusions, I bring up a subject of much debate. Now some have pointed out that in the ending of X-Men 2 where Jean Grey goes out of the plane to sacrifice herself was unnecessary obviously did not follow what was occurring to Jean throughout the film. What I saw was her character going through the anguish and realization that something inside of her was reaching far beyond her capabilities to control and after seeing what she was capable of in her battle with Cyclops that at the mom ent she saw that everyone in the team was in danger on the plane, she used this as self justification to sacrifice her life for everyone and at the same time stop the force inside of her which she feared was a growing danger not only out of her control but could eventually threaten or hurt all those who she loved.
What other director can you name has so responsibly adapted something like this to film? I can think of only one off hand, Peter Jackson and his diligence to The Lord of the Ring books. I dare say the Brian Singer has accomplished more than even Mr. Jackson, because Singer has taken a Comic Book, something the majority of people and press disregard as children's books or even geek literature, and has transformed it into a very HUMAN, very poignant, very real experience, and can only hope that he will continue on what he has accomplished.
* * * * * (5 stars)