X2: The X-Men United ****

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“X2: The X-Men United” is the best movie in the X-Men franchise. Director Bryan Singer and his screen writers have crafted a superb super hero movie that gives everyone in the ensemble cast the time to fully develop their characters.

The main villain in this entry is William Stryker, played by the indispensable Brian Cox. He has a history with Wolverine and a particular hatred for mutants. His plan is one that could destroy all Mutants in an instant.

All the characters from the original are back and better than ever. Joining them are newcomers Nightcrawler, played amazingly by Alan Cumming, and Aaron Stanford as Pryo. Nightcrawler in particular is brought to life with some truly amazing prosthetics and make up. His opening assault on the White House is my favourite action sequence in this entire series.

Noticeably different this time around are the running time and the budget. This film is over 2 hours long but it feels like it goes by quickly. The script and story move along briskly and efficiently. The budget this time fits the story as all the action sequences are epic and amazingly shot. 10 years later everything still looks terrific.

How the franchise went so wrong after this movie is beyond me. The third movie especially was so misguided that the series has never really recovered.

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