Sit down, hold on and buckle up! That's possibly the best way to sum up the second installment of Bryan Singer's X Men (2003), which sees the return of all the main characters plus a few interesting new ones. It's hectic and frenetic pace leaves you gasping and scratching your head, looking for a suitable point to nip to the loo without losing track altogether.
Now before we go any further, it's not that I don't like this film, it's entertaining and well scripted, but I feel it tends to suffer when the two chiseled old thespians (Stewart and McKellen) are not present. X-Men 2 has times when it seems like the start of 'The Wolverine Show' - Hugh Jackman is certainly pushed front and centre from here on out.
The suspicion and mistrust existing between the mutants and mankind intensifies. General William Stryker, a military scientist played by Brian Cox, assumes control of the situation after the Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) attacks the American President in The White House. At this point you know its fiction because any President worth his salt would be at high profile meetings taking selfies or squeezing in eighteen holes of golf, not sitting around waiting for a blue man in a baseball cap to deliver a message on a letter opener.
Elsewhere Magneto (Ian McKellen) is a temporary resident in a glass box that resembles ITV's 'The Cube'. He's not there by choice, and not because he wanted to take part in a series of mindless pub games! No, he's there so that Stryker can extract information on Xavier's school for the gifted. The plan is to recreate Cerebro, a sort of gigantic visual tracer of the mutant species, which will allow him to polish them off. Stryker employes his mutant son Jason to help locate them all via Xavier, who is duped by the image of a small child.
Wolverine has returned to continue his Jean ogling activities, and search for beer in the school refrigerator. We pick up the complicated love tryst where we left off, you suspect that if Grey (Famke Janssen) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) were to 'get it on' that the Earth would actually move. In the other romance between Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Bobby/The Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) they have still yet to kiss, let alone do anything like Wolverine has on his mind, but eventually they manage a clumsy, brief peck.
The school is raided by Stryker's Army and substantial numbers of children are taken hostage. The story continues at a lively pace but you can't wait for the inevitable breakout by Magneto, and it's a relief when he does. Riddled with guilt for spilling the mutant beans, he forms an uneasy alliance with the X-Men to stop the annihilation, but then reverses the plan to rid the planet of humans - naughty!
The high point of the action is the dust up between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), which is like a savage cutlery fight between two 'Hungry Horace's' at a BBQ. It's a tense Adamantium filled clink-clonk knock about that sustains your interest and has you rooted firmly to your seat as your knuckles turn white.
Eventually Storm (Halle Berry), the peroxide weather girl, and teleporting Nightcrawler prevent the plan from working. The effects are superb, but for me X-Men 2 just loses the battle for its audience. Parts of it are fantastic, unfortunately the wit is less obvious and less frequent, and it lacks the tightness and punch of the original.
Dare I say it, X-Men 2 gives us too much to digest in almost all areas. It doesn't totally spoil the feel or the pleasure, but you have to grudgingly admit that it's not quite on target.
Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter
Tomorrow Tom looks back at X-Men: The Last Stand