X2: Kerry Hayes
April 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

X2: X-Men United

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
133 minutes
Wide Release Date
05/02/03
performer
Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Brian Cox, Daniel Cudmore, Alan Cumming, Kelly Hu, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Aaron Stanford
director
Bryan Singer
Producer
Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter
distributor
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
author
Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, David Hayter
genre
Action Adventure, Sci-fi and Fantasy

”I always get in trouble for telling too much — or not enough,” says Hugh Jackman, a.k.a. stiletto-knuckled mutant Wolverine. He’s trying to explain the plot of ”X2: X-Men United,” the sequel to 2000’s superhero blockbuster ”X-Men” — without explaining too much. ”You know about the President being assassinated?” Huh? What? The President gets assassinated? Jackman hesitates. ”Or not being assassinated — an attempt being made on his life?” Okay, not quite as shocking a development — still, plenty risky in these jumpy times.

Jackman seems to sense impending controversy. ”The stakes are pretty high in ‘X2,”’ he says, retreating into the safely vague. ”Not that this is ‘War and Peace’ or anything, but there’s a little more meat on the bones than you’d find in your normal superhero movie.”

Indubitably. New mutants (including Alan Cumming’s Nightcrawler) and new villains (Brian Cox’s mutant-fearing general, William Stryker) assure a melee of epic proportions — something that didn’t quite materialize in the original. ”If people have criticized the first movie to me, it’s always ‘We want to see you kicking some ass,”’ says Jackman. ”At first I was like, what do you mean? And then I watched ”X1” and I realized it’s true, there’s not a lot of that going on.” He certainly compensates this time around: Wolverine goes bloody berserk when the military breaks down mutant leader Professor Xavier’s door, then later locks claws with Kelly Hu’s villainous Deathstrike.

All that PG-13-rated carnage takes a lot of effort — and a lot of special-effects work — to bring off properly (Director Bryan Singer even shot a new final scene in March). But cast members and Fox studio execs are confident the second coming of the X-Men will top the first, which grossed $157 million domestically. ”His movies come out genius,” says Halle Berry, who donned an improved wig for the role of white-maned weather witch Storm. ”At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.”

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