Bryan Singer's explosive follow up to the hit 'X-Men' delivers on every count. This movie, more than 'Spider-man' before it, shows that comic book movies can be adapted into spectacular movies. Even if we have to suffer a dozen 'Hulk's for each 'X2: X-Men United', then it's a small price to pay.
It's always difficult to adapt a comic book to the big screen. You have to remain faithful enough to the material to please the citizens of geekdom (no offense, but you know what you are =) while managing to appeal to the mainstream public as well. Both Fox and Sony managed this balance admirably with 'X-Men' and 'Spider-man' respectively, but 'X2' has all but perfected it.
Starting shortly after the first one left off, we're treated to an attack on the President of the U.S.A. by a teleporting mutant named Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming). After an enjoyable, if not quite stunning fight sequence, the President manages to survive and Nightcrawler escapes.
Professor Xavier, understandably concerned, dispatches Storm and Jean Grey to track down the would-be assassin. Meanwhile, Wolverine has returned from his journey to Alkali Lake in a fruitless attempt to discover details of his shadowy past. After Professor X and Cyclops leave to question Magneto about the new threat, Wolverine is left to babysit the students.
Unfortunately for him, the President - unnerved by the attack on his person - gives Colonel William Stryker authority to round up the mutants. Stryker is no stranger to mutants, as the story soon reveals, and he's relentless in his quest to 'solve' the mutant problem. The X-Men soon realize the severity of the threat Stryker poses, and teaming up with Magneto and Mystique, become determined to stop him.
In addition to the thrust of the main plot, we're also given an insight into the (literal) poster-boy for the X-Men, Wolverine. Although the full disclosure hinted at in the closing frames of the first movie never appear, we're given a few tangible insights - as well as a new set of questions to be answered. Also, we're introduced to two new notable mutants. Firstly the aforementioned Nightcrawler, as well as the student Pyro. As one might surmise, Pyro has the ability to manipulate fire and seems to take a perverse pleasure in it. Not that one can blame him.
'X2' is a darker film than it's predecessor, not just plot-wise, but also visually. Many of the scenes are filmed in shadowed interiors, or in the dead of night. While this adds to the overall feeling of the film, it can be sometimes difficult to see exactly what's going on. This is a shame considering there's obviously so much detail lavished on every shot in the movie. Most of the special effects are pretty good, but they're less impressive in a few sequences. Specifically those involving fire and water don't seem to be as real as we've seen in other movies. It's not a big complaint by any stretch of the imagination, but puzzling as to why they're not better, to fit with the rest of the movie's high production values.
The storyline of the movie is pretty enjoyable, and although it has it's questionable moments - they're nothing to be overly concerned about. From the opening frames the movie flows smoothly from one excellent scene to the next. Nothing comes across as extraneous, and there's just the perfect balance of action with plot development.
As you might expect from a DVD of this stature, the video transfer is absolutely flawless. The blacks are pretty damn black, and there are no artifacts to speak of. Everything has a nice crisp look. The audio is of the same quality, as the soundtrack is as clean and sharp as any other movie out there.
The DVD features are in general pretty good, but nothing really stands out among them. There's the stock audio commentaries, and of these Singer's is the best - if not exactly riveting material. On the second disc, the 11 deleted scenes are not at all worth your time. They're very short, and were all deleted for good reason.
There's plenty of the 'Making of' variety of features, including an hour long documentary, and some fight scenes. Although these are entertaining, they're nothing extraordinary. There's also a featurette on the history of the comic books, as well as your standard collection of movie trailers. Again, nothing that's absolutely essential, but plenty to keep you occupied for a couple of hours.
'X2' is a fantastic movie, better in almost every way than the original. Plenty of action and plot development tucked into a rapid pace make the over 120 minutes seem to fly by. This is how comic book adaptations should end up, and we can only hope to see more of them in the future. The DVD release is technically flawless. Although loaded with plenty of extras, none of them really stand out. Nevertheless, fans of the movie will enjoy the amount of material included on the second disc. Pop this one in, and just sit back and enjoy the show.