X2: X-Men United (2003)

Bryan Singer directs Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen and Rebecca Romijn in this superhero sequel where a human general exploits brainwashed mutants to plot towards their own genocide.

Still a pinnacle of comic book adaptations, this hasn’t started showing its age so much as it no longer feels particularly special. Singer’s strength was his ability to do a lot of storytelling in a single definitive image; Magneto dropping a dozen grenade rings after a squad self destructs, Lady Deathstrike cracking her knuckles in a White House reception room, a glow beneath a lake. In the previous movie it meant he masterfully cut through swathes of exposition and introduction with a brevity many confused with impermanence. Really though at over two hours this feels a tad baggier rather than a supersize upgrade. The grand finale spends ten minutes too long in bunker corridors, cross cutting between five threats and subplots that seemingly freeze to a halt when there is no camera rolling. Urgency is sapped in the attempt to overload our senses. I personally try very hard not to mix up the work of hundreds of talents and technicians with the disgraces of a single author but even a cursory watch of this film sees scenes and motifs match up unfortunately with the continual allegation of Singer’s sexual abuse of underage actors. Watching it post #metoo and his firing from Bohemian Rhapsody reveals a harvest of suggestive content. The weirdly sexual bottle blowing encounter between Wolverine and Iceman, a universe of characters who have to hide in plain sight from their dark secrets, Mystique’s more risqué disguises to seduce Logan under false pretences, Magneto’s silent recruitment of the teenage Pyro. It is a well made product left vulnerable to the worst readings… you don’t have to dig too hard for easy (mis)interpretation. Which is a shame as the story has many glossy popcorn highlights – Nightcrawler’s presidential assassination, Magneto’s escape, an adamantium claw-off. Brian Cox makes for a grand boo-hiss chief antagonist. Jackman, McKellen and Romin continue to standout in a busy ensemble who all want an arc and their big moment. And let’s not forget what is only slightly muddled now was a seamless theme park attraction back in its long forgotten summer slot.

8

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/

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