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X2: X-Men United (2003)

Directed by Bryan Singer

I think we made a good showing, catapulting "X2" to one of the biggest box office opening weekends in history. We're going to have to try pretty hard to beat that for "Matrix Reloaded."

X2: X-Men United (2003) -- Nightcrawler

But let's get down to business. The opening sequence with Nightcrawler in close quarter teleporter combat was simply god-like. They managed to capture how devastating his powers can be in a way the comic book couldn't. I have to admit that I did not like the designs on his face when I saw them in promotional materials because there are no such things on his blue face in the comics. But when it turns out that they are a kind of self-punishment for sins he feels he has committed, I kind of liked them. I don't think Kurt Wagner was as religious in the comic book, but I didn't mind it.

Is there anyone out there who did not enjoy the appearances by Kitty Pride, Colossus (even though he didn't sound Russian), Dr. Hank McCoy, and Banshee's daughter? Those of you who never read the comic really missed out. There are plenty of X-Men collected issues in paperback now, so all is not lost. You can buy them, read them and be in the know by the time the DVD comes out. However, it will lead you to find some differences, which I know most of you noticed.

Let's not even talk about what they did with Deathstrike other than that they completely ripped out a whole piece of Wolverine's life by changing her identity and replacing her father with Stryker.

If Wolverine's skull is adamantium, how come the bullet in the head penetrated?

Where was this secret lab that Stryker was working from? Was it even in Canada where it was supposed to be?

Since when can Cerebro project energy into people's minds to the point it can kill them? I remember Cerebro being a passive detection system.

I thought Storm's indiscriminate use of tornadoes was a little bit irresponsible. Even if none of them got away from her and touched down, she would have warped the weather all over the world.

*** SPOILER AHEAD!!! ***

Now let's get down to Jean Grey. This movie obviously is setting up the Phoenix storyline, one of the most successful in Marvel Comics history. As you recall though, the whole Phoenix story started in space with Jean Grey and the M'Krann Crystal. The Phoenix power didn't manifest itself until the X-Men return to earth and Jean sacrifices herself to save her teammates during a shuttle re-entry. Granted I don't think you can do the whole space storyline in the context of the movie unless you dedicated two or three feature films to just that story. Not that that's a bad idea. But I could see the next movie starting with them crashing through the atmosphere and Jean's sacrifice. Just don't even explain how or why they're there. They're superheroes on their way back from an adventure. It would have been lots better than what they did with it in "X2." Can anyone explain to me why Jean Grey had to leave the X-Jet to do what she did? Why couldn't she stop the water from INSIDE the plane? I've been reading comics for a long time and I can't come up with a single geek explanation for what the hell she was doing out there. The two answers that even come close to an explanation are that either she was really, really depressed about the state of the world and her passionless relationship with her block of wood of a boyfriend and decided to end it all, or the writers just couldn't figure out any other way to get her underwater. By the way, I liked that ending better when I saw it the first time. Can anyone say "Star Trek II"?

X2: X-Men United (2003) -- Jean Grey

One of the Hollywood Outsider staff brought up another good point. Why did she need to save them at all? Why didn't Iceman just freeze the water around them, making a wall, until they could take off or Jean realized that she could lift them off?

X2: X-Men United (2003) -- Wolverine

One improvement over the comic book is that Wolverine actually used his claws in combat. The comic character talked about clawing people all the time and was portrayed as a berserker but you never actually saw him skewer anyone. When the school is attacked in the movie, it was a claw-fest! He was killing guys left and right. I was really surprised by the level of death dealing. They did, however, wimp out on the blood. Those claws should have been dripping with gore by the time he meets Stryker.

As is the case with any adaptation, the movie has lots of flaws. One wonders why they don't have a comic book geek consulting with the screenwriter. With all the entourages and friends getting hired on big movies, you think they could get one geek on the payroll. But as comic book movies go, this wasn't so bad.

See you at "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Hulk"! -- Rating: $4.00

Gronky -- copyright Hollywood Outsider 2003

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