Belated X2 “Review” – Know More Than What You See

27 May

       I never read many comic books as a child (or as anything else for that matter). Those few that I did read (mainly Spiderman and a few X-Men) were as they are now and can be seen as mere (poor) excuses to draw violence. But they had something else too, each had its own hook, it’s own deeper theme which resonates with the audience beyond a “cool, that fight was neat looking” appreciation. With Spiderman, it is the story of an average everyday geek given superpowers with which he must decide how to behave. Will he be a hero or a villain? A lover or a loner? Essentially, the comic asks the same questions that many people ask, but with exaggerated circumstances, typical of most purposeful storytelling.
       X-Men is about judgment. It’s about how willing (or unwilling) people are to examine what they see beyond their first impressions. It’s about people who feel left out. It’s about the apparant human tendency to believe in their own superiority. These themes aren’t really very deep, and they aren’t very subtle in the movies either, but they are there. The movies can also just be passed off as simple strings of nifty action sequences, depending on how willing the viewer is to examine what they see beyond their first impression.
       The first film, while it got Wolverine, Magneto, Professor X, and Rogue right (in my mind at least) was fairly, uh, how can one say this nicely? – cheesy? lame? bad? in many ways. The sequel, except for the lack of a cool title (X2? Sheesh? X-Men United? What’s the next one going to be called, X-Men No Longer United?) is a better movie in every way. The most important area here is it’s brilliant use of economic character development. The characters are developing even when off screen. X-Men by its very nature is about a group, a collective, a community of mutants, and as such is not good cinematic material. Movies struggle when they have to focus on more than a small tight knit group of characters. Especially when it is trying to blur the lines between good and evil, as X-Men does. Despite attempts to develop each and every character as they all deserve, Cyclops is essentially sidelined for a majority of the movie, and Rogue and Iceman are just left alone to, I guess, experiment with each other or something, while the rest of the movie progresses. Disappointing if you really wanted to know more about them, but necessary if the movie is about the X-Men.
Rogue and Bobby
       The effects are much improved (and there are more of them. I counted nine effects companies in the credits) save for a few sequences, the music is a monumental improvement over the mediocre-at-best score that the first film had, and the storyline is stronger. It feels more character driven simply because there is so little time for developing characters that they use all the time they have. Unless they are using it for a nifty action sequence. Even there tho, it is a film for fans of the comic who have dreamed of seeing and hearing certain things for decades. Wolverine’s berserker rage mode. The sound of Nightcrawlers “Bamf” teleportation. The evolution of Jean Grey. Many an online reviewer used the word “geekgasm” when referencing the scene where Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters is invaded by the military and defended by Wolverine.
Wolvie's Rage
       Wolverine doesn’t know death. He doesn’t really have an appreciation for time, yet he yearns to know the past. He’s different with different people, and, perhaps most important for a movie like this, he feels real.
Nightcrawler
       Nightcrawler, the major new character in the film, looks like a demon. His first appearance in the film is that of an assassin. And yet he is a kind, lonely, religious, humanistic individual. The short interchange which occurs between Storm and Nightcrawler is one of the links to the heart of this film. He questions her rage at how humans treat mutants, and she says that anger can sometimes help one to survive. Nightcrawler counters with “So can faith.” If he is not angry at humans for the way they treat mutants (he was, after all, part of a freak show for the Munich Circus), then what does he feel?

”I do not fear them. I pity them. Do you know why? Some people will never know anything beyond what they see with their own eyes.”

Storm and Nightcrawler
The visual medium of film seems perfect for making the points of X-Men, and it’s good that those responsible for adapting it from the comic books seem to be realizing that.

Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow and normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.

       ~Charles Xavier
       What is the next leap?
       Mutating the ability to, say, control weather, or shoot rays of deadly red energy from one’s eyes are fairly far-fetched and unrealistic, but, does anyone believe that humans have stopped evolving?
       Maybe these “Indigo Children,” so named for their apparantly uniquely indigo hued auras, (if you believe in such things) whose differing spiritual connections lead them to feel as if this isn’t the right world for them are an example of a “leap”. They feel that this world is wrong for them because it is. It may be that even their DNA is different also. Who knows. Maybe it’s just another random new age movement in thot. Whatever it is, a simple search on google will show that there is more here than a few people claiming to be psychic.
       What’s an indigo child? He or she is a child (or perhaps grown up) who senses situations, feels what should be done, and knows truth. They are children born into a new world which doesn’t exist yet. They believe they are normal, and know that they should represent the norm. They are born with Innocence and a healthy awareness of How To Be, which is, unfortunately, often lost since the world as it is conflicts with their from-birth-knowledge. They are often seen as depressed, rebellious, and hate-filled as a result. They are often diagnosed with ADD and given drugs.
       In more scientific terms, an Indigo Child is “a boy or girl who displays a new and unusual set of psychological attributes, revealing a pattern of behavior generally undocumented before. This pattern has singularly unique factors that call for parents and teachers to change their treatment and upbringing of these kids to assist them in achieving balance and harmony in their lives, and to help them avoid frustration.” (I got that from one of the sites found on the previously linked to Google search. Don’t remember which one, but you can find it if you care immensly.)
       There is truth here, even if it is buried under new age schlock about past lives and children messiahs. It’s kind of exciting. And now, all that said, I’m going to go settle down, eat something, and watch baseball.

P.S. Does anyone have any idea why “The Once and Future King” is choice reading for mutants?

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