The new film begins where the last movie left off. The politically incorrect Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) leaves the Xavier School of Gifted Youngsters to uncover the secrets of his mechanical past. Headmaster and powerful psychic Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) sends Storm (Halle Berry) and psychic Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) on a tracking mission to find a blue devilish mutant, called Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming). Nightcrawler assaulted the President of the United States and presented mutant propaganda. The attack on the White House inspires Colonel Stryker (Brian Cox) to unleash the dogs of war upon all the mutants, even the nice ones.
Complicating matters is the imprisoned villian, Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his henchman, Mystic (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) the naked shapeshifter. When Colonel Stryker's unit military raids the Xavier School of Gifted Youngsters, the good mutants are forced into an uneasy alliance with the bad mutants.
"X2" enhances the themes of tolerance and compassion from the first move. This time the film looks at the falliability of their superheroes, most notably Professor Xavier's failed attempt to educate Stryker's son. Each character has a degree of pain associated with their special unique powers. Their superpowers is both a blessing and a curse.
The film is stocked with surprises and humor. There is the clever set up for Magneto's prison escape. Despite looking like the devilish mascot from Duke University, the Nightcrawler is a devout Christian who can recite scripture in Latin, German and English. The cigar chomping, beer gulping Wolverine becomes a substitute Head Master and meets the parents who think their mutant child is going to a college preparatory school field trip.
Being an invention of Marvel Comics, this new X Men movie provides several visual memories and action sequences. One visual highlight involves the X- Wing airplane dodging the tornados created by the Storm.
Yet it is the characters and their intentions that drive this story. Despite the special effects and gimmicks, it is the human foibles the audience seems to appreciate. With 150 million dollar opening weekend, "X 2" has kicked off the Summer 2003 movie season in grand style. If you are not a comic book affciando, it may help to review the original movie to appreciate some of the sequel's nuances. Regardless, "X2" provides good Saturday matinee popcorn eating entertainment and hopefully in three years the cast and crew will reunite for "X Men 3."