'X2' doubles the action, halves the originality

    Part hokey pokey, part hocus pocus, “”X2: X-Men United”” delivers two hours of comic book-style action drama in similar fashion to the original. The main difference in the sequel is that “”X2″” doubled the ingredients from the film that gave birth to the comic book film craze in Hollywood. The recipe went something like this: Start with the old cast of superheroes and throw in a few new faces, take the number of plots in the previous film and double them. “”X2″” was an appropriate title for the film in more ways than one.

    It is difficult to say what single task the X-Men need to perform in order to save the world in this film. The more efficient way of telling the story is to focus on the man trying to destroy the world (or at least the mutant population). Stryker, a military scientist, began to hate the mutant race when Professor Xavier was unable to rehabilitate his son from his mutant ways long ago.

    The inability of Stryker’s son to cope with his mutantism ultimately led to the destruction of his family and Stryker’s insanity. As Stryker tries to destroy the mutants, Magneto attempts to destroy Stryker, and the human race while he is at it. It is up to the X-Men to maintain peace and order here on Earth.

    In the midst of all of this chaos, the most heavily developed subplot comes by way of Wolverine learning of his origins, and doing battle with a female version of himself in the process.

    This film really aims to please the X-Men addicts and those who liked the first film. Several intricacies throughout the film indicate its desire to please the true comic fan, while the star-studded cast tries to please the wider movie going audience. The film offers updates in the saga of each of the lives of the X-Men and tries to accomplish too much in a single sitting.

    The whole film came off feeling like some combination of a futuristic epic myth and a soap opera in that it told and perpetuated a story that has no foreseeable end or resolution. Whatever cohesive thematic feel the filmmakers were trying to create was diluted by the amount of screen time that has to be purely devoted to storytelling. This element kept the movie from being anything more than just good.

    The film scores big points in the area of visual effects, as the mutant’s powers are pulled off stunningly. The best new additions come from the teenage mutants Pyro, Iceman and a cameo by Colossus. The filmmakers made sure to keep the audience enchanted by the possibility of future sequels, which are reportedly already in the planning stages.

    “”X2″” ultimately cashes in on America’s love addiction with comics in the most primitive ways. Instead of building off of the fantastic myth that has been the backbone of Marvel’s success for so long, they ride on the laurels of a successful franchise and big name stars.

    The film saves face in that its pace, along with its big name stars and numerous explosions, keeps the audience constantly entertained. The “”X2″” filmmakers also deserve credit for going the distance in creating a two-hour film, when they could have cashed in just as easily on an 80-minute story.

    Ultimately, “”X2″” is just X-Men on steroids, and like many of the X-Men characters, what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in proportion.

    X2: X-Men United

    ***

    Starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry

    In theaters May 2

    Rated PG-13

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