(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. Click here for the full list.)
X2: X-Men United (movie; 2003)
Written by Zak Penn and David Hayter
Directed by Bryan Singer
Superhero movies...blah! You heard me! Granted, as a geek there was something special to me about the first round of modern superhero movies to come out, way back in the '70s and '80s, and I indeed immensely enjoyed as a young man such films as Tim Burton's original Batman; but as the corporate dumbification of Hollywood has become an unstoppable snowball in the last decade, it seems that more and more brain-dead studio executives have desperately latched onto superhero ideas because of a basic lack of intelligence and imagination, because of such films being able to deliver the things precisely letting that executive keep their job (i.e. insanely large budget which of course requires their oversight, a cartoonish black-and-white morality tale for the drooling uneducated masses, and enough corporate conglomerate merchandising tie-ins to keep all their bosses at all their global divisions happy).
Enter the X-Men franchise. Sigh. Starting with the surprise 2000 hit X-Men, by slumming Oscar nominee Bryan Singer, the original film in the series delivered just enough pleasing surprises to stand above the usual horsecrap served up anymore by the major studios; a half-decent storyline, smart actors being used to the best of their abilities, a natural ability that Singer seems to have been born with as far as juggling action scenes with thoughtful exposition. And this of course put giant dollar signs in the eyes of a thousand piddly little middle managers over at Fox and all its subsidiaries, which of course has guaranteed us all a series of ever-worsening sequels since then, making the entire franchise wear out its welcome with each passing year as the suits behind it continue wringing it for every last nickel.
For those who don't know (and like it really matters), the entire "X-Men" franchise concerns a world where the next step of human evolution has begun; where certain people, more with each year, keep getting born with superhuman abilities, which quickly devolves into a fight between "bad" mutants (who want to wipe out the non-special humans) and the "good" mutants (protecting the noble yet stupid mortals who oh-so-ironically hate and fear the very people protecting them). The way that X-Men in particular becomes a Hollywood franchise wet dream in this day and age, then, is two-fold: first because it mostly involves teen mutants at a private prep school who are learning how to master their abilities, giving Fox an opportunity to fill the cast with the sexiest hottest Hollywood things of the moment; and then because of the line-up of the X-Men being an ever-rotating cast of new teens, giving Fox the opportunity to recast every two years and create a new line of merchandise every two years and all the rest of the things that give mid-management licensing executives boners.
Cheap jokes, soulless action scenes, instantly dated computer graphics, an endless series of b-list actors; do you like all these things? If so, by all means you're going to love X2; for those who feel such things to all be signs of a collapsing Hollywood, however, you'd do well to stay away from it at all costs, and probably the rest of the films in the series for the sake of your own health as well. I never thought I'd hear myself say it, but I'm officially sick of comic-book movies existing; I can seemingly do nothing but shudder anymore whenever a new one comes out. Well, except for the coming sequel to Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins; that one's going to kick ass!
Out of 10: 2.6