Review: X2 (2003) – Silver Screen Serenade

X2 ONE SHEET A ¥ Art Machine Job#5263 ¥ Version A ¥  02/28/03

So when Zoë shared her plans to have an X-Men Blogathon to prepare for the upcoming Days of Future Past, I was totally in. I’d been thinking I ought to do something to get in the spirit, and I think this is just the ticket! Kudos for the awesome idea, Zoë!

When given a choice between the X-Men films to review, I immediately snatched up X2: X-Men United. In my opinion, this is the X-Men film to beat. Let’s talk about why, shall we?

Synopsis: “The X-Men band together to find a mutant assassin who has made an attempt on the President’s life, while the Mutant Academy is attacked by military forces.” –

Why it’s awesome:

That opening! X2 doesn’t waste any time getting right into some action. I mean, an assassination attempt on the president within the first five minutes? I’m paying attention! And as for the would-be assassin…

  • NIGHTCRAWLER IS THE BEST. Seriously, he might be my favorite thing about this film. Played brilliantly by Alan Cumming, Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler is just too freaking cool. His look, his power, his personality—I feel like this film nails it. He looks scary, but he has a heart of gold, and with only a few details, you get a sense of his tortured past. Plus, I love the designs on his skin. “One for every sin,” he claims. Very nice touch.

  • Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. Yes, Professor X is a character we’re introduced to in the first film, but he continues to shine here as the strong, wise, soft-spoken patriarch of the X-Men family.
  • Hugh Jackman just…is Wolverine. At this point, I do believe Logan a.k.a. Wolverine has been a bit overexposed (he has a huge role in every X-Men film except First Class, where he’s limited to a brief albeit delightful cameo), but this is the surly tough guy’s second film appearance, and it’s great.

  • Ian freakin’ McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto. So much yes. Aside from Tom Hiddleston’s irresistibly fun Loki, McKellen’s Magneto is my very favorite Marvel villain. He’s wonderfully suave, clever, and brutal, and his complicated “frenemy” relationship with Professor X is brilliantly portrayed. Also, his prison breakout scene is arguably the best moment of the film. Sheer awesomeness.
  • Rebecca Romijn as Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique. We don’t know much about her, but what we do know is that she’s sexy, sassy, smart, and an undeniable badass. She has some great moments in this film, but my personal favorite is when she breaks into William Stryker’s facility, then slides through a closing door while flipping her enemies the bird. Win.

  • The coolness of Colossus (Daniel Cudmore). We may not know much about him, but man does he look awesome.
  • The creepy intensity of William Stryker (Brian Cox). It’s hard for a plain old human villain to measure up to mutants, but Stryker does the job perfectly.
  • Bobby’s “coming out” scene. When Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) leads a group of mutants to his family’s house, he has to confess to them what he really is. The family’s reaction is less than favorable. You can’t help drawing parallels between this and the struggles of the gay community. It’s a smart tie-in to a very relevant social issue.
  • The Phoenix teasers. There are a couple of them in this film, and even though Phoenix a.k.a. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) doesn’t turn out quite like fans had hoped, the hints of power are still pretty great.
  • Yuriko Oyama a.k.a. Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu). When those adamantium claws sprout from her fingertips and she takes on Wolverine, it’s the best.

That scene near the end where the mutants talk to the president. Everything freezes, it’s dark and stormy, the mutants speak from the shadows…Mr. Prez, you’d better LISTEN!

  • In general, I just think the script is really sharp for this one. The dialogue is great, the pacing pretty spot-on, and the story, though ambitious, works well. Kudos, X2!

Clearly, I love this one. But if I have to pick on a few things…

The (few) things that bother me:

I don’t love Jean, Rogue (Anna Paquin), or Storm (Halle Berry), and I hate that because they’re all such potentially awesome characters. The problem is Famke Janssen can’t act her way out of a paper bag, Rogue doesn’t have nearly enough sass and is a little whiny (I blame the writers more than Paquin), and Storm is miscast as well as sans the cool African accent she is supposed to have. I read a list the other day of miscast X-Men where the writer suggested Angela Bassett instead of Berry in the role. Anyone who has seen Bassett in American Horror Story: Coven knows why that idea made me giddy.

angela bassett

I hate the Logan/Jean/Scott love triangle. Is that a thing in the comics? I hate it. I hate how it makes Scott a.k.a. Cyclops (James Marsden) act toward Logan, I hate how Jean kind of leads Logan on, and I hate how it makes Logan a bit mopey. Do you guys feel the same? I don’t know. Maybe the prevalence of love triangles in, like, every recent book and movie has made me bitter toward them.

love triange
make them staaaaahp!
  • Stryker’s team breaks into the X-Mansion like it’s child’s play. Isn’t that place supposed to be super duper guarded? I feel like Professor X would’ve put more thought into that.
  • John Allerdyce a.k.a. Pyro (Aaron Stanford) is just an annoying psycho. There’s not much done to develop his character, and by the time he abandons the X-Men for Team Magneto, I’m like, “Whatever, bro.” Could not care less. Do we even really need him?
  • So if you’ve gotten this far, I’m sure you don’t care about spoilers, but SPOILERS! So Jean heroically sacrifices herself by stepping outside of a jet full of her X-Buddies and powering it up before rushing waters come to drown them. Here’s my question: Why couldn’t homegirl power up the jet from the inside? I guess you could argue that she also has to hold back the waters, but earlier in the film she stopped a missile from inside the jet. I see no reason she couldn’t hold back the water from inside it, too.


I love this film. In my opinion, it’s the best X-Men so far (we’ll see how Days of Future Past stacks up), and it does all the things a good sequel is supposed to do: show us more of the characters we love while introducing a few awesome new ones, thicken the plot and put it on a grander scale, and improve upon and/or equal the previous film in greatness. Check, check, and check. This is one of my favorite superhero films for good reason.

My Rating: 9/10 (Probably an A on my rating system)

Thanks so much for letting me participate, Zoë!  X-Men Blogathon ruuuuuules! 😀

Thanks a million for participating Cara, this was an awesome review! I would have loved to see Bassett rock the Storm role!

60 thoughts on “Review: X2 (2003) – Silver Screen Serenade

  1. Thanks a lot lady, LOVE this post! OMG IMAGINE Bassett as Storm… that would have been the most insanely cool casting! Pity we got Halle Berry instead!


      1. 😀 Much better than Halle Berry. No two ways about it (she leaves a lot to be desired). Meh. YAY, that means this blogathon is doing what it is intended to 😀


    1. I’m 50-50 with Paquin. Sometimes I like her, sometimes she drives me nuts. As for Rogue, I think sassy ’90s cartoon Rogue trumps live-action Rogue any day.


  2. Great review, Cara. This is by far my favorite X-Men movie of the bunch. I was hoping The Wolverine would offer a strong Wolverine-centric story like this but I guess I got my hopes up too high. The opening with Nightcrawler is why a) he is my favorite X-Man, and b) being a teleporter would be amazing.


    1. Thanks, Drew! Nightcrawler is my favorite, too!! I just adore Alan Cumming’s portrayal. As for The Wolverine…confession: still haven’t seen it. I was so “whatever” about Origins that I just couldn’t bring myself to look into it. I’ll probably check it out eventually, but I’m ready for the X-Men to highlight somebody else already! Lol.


      1. The Wolverine is definitely an improvement over Wolverine Origins, but I don’t think it is the Wolverine story we were looking for / it could have been. You may have your wish. It’s rumored Fox is going to do Gambit and Mystique spinoff movies.


      2. Yeah Gambit is definitely happening with Channing Tatum. Still sorting out if I care for that casting or not…lol. Would LOVE a Mystique spinoff! 😀


    1. Thanks, Mutant! Stewart ad McKellen are THE BEST. Have you seen all of their pictures together when they’re roaming around NYC? Their bromance is the stuff of legends. Oh and fun fact: when I was studying in England, I went to see RSC’s Romeo and Juliet, and I later found out that Patrick Stewart was TOTALLY IN THE AUDIENCE. I SAT SO NEAR GREATNESS.


      1. OMG! SO JEALOUS!!! Patrick Stewart RULES!!! Lol – yes, I love their bromance. Stay tuned for Zoe’s post tomorrow… ; ) (At least, I think it’s tomorrow… !) : )


  3. Good stuff ladies!! This is my favorite of the bunch too – probably because Nightcrawler was always my favorite X-Man… Nice work!!


      1. There was a video game that came out between X2 and X3 where the player rotated between playing as Wolverine, Iceman and Nightcrawler. In that game, they explain where Nightcrawler disappeared to, but yeah it woulda been nice to have it in the movie. Bryan Singer did say he wants to include Nightcrawler in X-men Apocalypse tho 🙂


  4. I still preferred the first film over this one but it’s definitely a good installment. I didn’t like the way they treated Cyclops. It set up what was truly unforgivable in the terrible third film. Still this one was a lot of fun.


    1. I do quite like the first one, too, but this one will always win for me. It’s definitely a shame that Cyclops became so blah throughout all this. Maybe he’ll get a proper reboot. 🙂


      1. I would love to see him get a strong position in a reboot. I think he was thrown aside to give more time to the romance between the more attractive stars (Jackman and Famke). He spent most of his time knocked out in a boiler room in part two we know what happened in part three.


  5. Reblogged this on Silver Screen Serenade and commented:
    The lovely and wonderful Miss Zoë over at The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger is having an X-Men Blogathon to prepare for the upcoming Days of Future Past. Naturally, I had to participate via a review for my very favorite X-Men film, X2! Have a little looksee! And thanks again, Zoë! 😀


  6. I agree with you about Rogue, but what I also try to consider is that the Rogue most everyone who watched the cartoon knows is an older Rogue, and not young lovesick, still-adapting-to-her-powers-and-a-sense-of-family Rogue. In the cartoon, she could always afford to be sassy because she was super strong, practically indestructible and could fly, all abilities she had absorbed from other mutants. I think if they had tried to just glob all that on to her in the first or even second film, it would have seemed rushed and odd. But the Rogue of X3 was just blah and disappointing (like the rest of the film, except for a prettified verson of Ben Foster).


  7. I’m reviewing X2 this week too. I’m a massive fan but I agree that most of the female characters are a bit crap!


  8. Totally agree on the love triangle. Always hated that. It made Cyclops come off as being so… useless. Like he just existed to be there as Jean’s LI. And Wolverine is sensitive under that kick ass, brash exterior, sure we all know that, but they turned him into a bit of a mopy puppy over her. BLARG. I’ve never liked Jean Grey, can you tell? 😀

    Anyway, great review Cara. I’m so excited for the new release this weekend.


    1. Thanks, V! Yeah this love triangle blows for every character. So unnecessary. Jean Grey suuuuucks in these movies. Nonetheless, love X2. And I’m SUPER excited for Days of Future Past! The initial response seems to be that it’s awesome, so I have high hopes. 🙂


      1. Same! I’m booked in for Friday, seriously cannot wait. I’ll probably have to ban myself from the internet tomorrow though!


  9. Definitely the best Xmen movie, and one of the best comic movies ever. That opening scene is beautiful and the film doesn’t let up after that. Its just a shame the third one fucked up all of the overarching story with Jean Grey


  10. Good job Cara! I actually really like this movie too and Alan Cumming is da bomb dot com. Angela Bassett should have totally been in it. That love triangle picture yes totally Hunger Games status.


    1. Thanks, Melissa! I ADORE Alan Cumming! Frankly, I don’t see how this didn’t earn him an origins film. UGH. Whatevs. Angela Bassett would’ve been kickass in this. Really, plenty of women would’ve been more kickass in this than Halle Berry…but I won’t get into that. Lol. And I am SO OVER love triangles. If they can just disappear from everything for the next decade or so, that’d be great.


      1. I would be perfectly happy for longer, but I can’t see the entertainment world keeping it at bay for even a year, let alone ten. Hahaha.


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