looking like an idiot on line, all for you

I am happy to announce that X2, with or without its goofy tagline (“X-Men United”, or not, depending on which ad you see), would have been worth it even if I’d had to pay for it.

It’s not perfect, but much like Spider-Man, all of its problematic bits are clustered near the end of the last act, so they’re pretty easy to forgive. Of the at least three climaxes, there’s one that’s a little too obviously there just to set up X3 (“X-Men Unplugged?” “X-Men Undressed?”) and make the old-time fans feel tended to, and as a result its setpiece effect of a bursting dam feels completely arbitrary. (And it’s telegraphed so far in advance that this can’t count as spoilage.)

But none of that is fatal, and there are plenty of distinct improvements from the first picture, notably in the acting department: Halle Berry (mostly) no longer reads her lines like she’s auditioning for a Hammer Horror film, and Famke Janssen, largely no longer saddled with the first movie’s spotty dialogue, is surprisingly compelling. Singer has made ample use of the extra time and money he got to make the sequel: there’s better balancing of screen time between the assorted characters, and the big effects sequences fit better into the movie’s flow. Poor James Marsden still has nothing to do, but you can’t have everything.

And the fight choreography is substantially better than, say, Bulletproof Monk. Not that that’s a surprise or anything.

Geeks, go forth with confidence.

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