Back in the day, I was crazy-excited about every X-Men movie release. A fan of the comics, I enjoyed the first film and was certainly looking forward to seeing more of my favourite characters in a sequel. Of course, all this positive anticipation for the franchise ended after (or actually, during) X-Men 3 but that's another story.
I had forgotten how much better than the first film this second instalment was.
It's ridiculously better.
Not amazing or anything but certainly a vast improvement. For one thing, the scale was much more suited to an X-Men film. Also, you had a much better villain with a much better masterplan in Brian Cox's William Stryker with Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) given more interesting things to do this time around besides just being one-dimensional douchebags. It's a bit less of a cliched doomsday machine plot in that although Cerebro is a big part of Stryker's plan, it's not really all we get plot-wise from this movie. We're introduced to new characters, some of the X-peeps we already know are given more to do and more involving subplots. Essentially, it feels like there's more at stake here and it's the first time you really feel those X-Men know what they're doing. They react to Stryker's attack as a team and sort it out together. In the first film...
"What's a Magneto?"
The core gang is back with Hugh Jackman doing his Wolverine thing, Halle Berry still on (and much less annoying) as Storm, James Marsden being criminally underused once again as Cyclops and of course Famke Janssen, Patrick Stewart and a pre-True Blood Anna Paquin as Jean Grey, Professor Xavier and a non-flying Rogue respectively. New additions include Nightcrawler, played by Alan Cumming (who went on to star in the likes of Son Of The Mask and The Smurfs), Pyro (Aaron Standford) and Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu). It's a great cast with loads of great characters and although some of them barely get a line (Colossus, anyone?), it's still good to see so many X-Men getting shit done.
There's a respectable bunch of cool moments including Stryker's Cerebro heist and a fun fight between the equally gifted Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine. It's a darker plot with a darker tone altogether but there's still room for the odd lol or the odd lighthearted moment so in the end what you get is an entertaining movie that's more substantial all around and makes the first film look like a trailer. You also get better effects and better writing so if you enjoyed the first one, you'll really like this second outing. If you didn't care for X-Men, honestly I think you'll still have fun with X2, as simple popcorn entertainment at least. It may not be THE X-Men film fans are looking for but it's as good as we're gonna get, for a while anyway.
Crap, that means I have to watch The Last Stand again, doesn't it?
So be it.