‘X2: X-Men United’ on Disney+, Hulu and Starz

Bryan Singer opens up the scope in his superhero sequel X2: X-Men United (2003), making this the cinematic equivalent of a multi-issue comic book epic.

Magneto (Ian McKellan) escapes and launches a strike of Holocaust proportions against the human race while mutant-hating military madman Stryker (Brian Cox) plots the destruction of mutant-kind, beginning with Prof X’s (Patrick Stewart) school for “gifted” children.

The allegory is as strong, and as obvious, as ever: those who are different are isolated, feared, and hunted, and the motivations are solidly laid out in the four color tradition of superhero pulp melodrama: everything becomes personal. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine still feels like the star player, a tortured hero searching for self and finding a savage under the claws, but the film creates a true ensemble here even as it practically doubles the cast of heroes and villains. The most notable addition is Nightcrawler, a tormented blue-skinned mutant with the look of a demon and the soul of an angel played by Alan Cumming.



At 135 minutes it never feels long, thanks to a driving pace, rapid crosscutting between parallel stories, and spectacular action scenes that never forget about the characters at the center. Like a great comic book, this has rapid fire development and visual punch and keeps you turning the pages to see what happens next.

Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, and Anna Paquin are returning heroes and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is back as the Magneto’s shapeshifting partner.

PG-13

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Fandango, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
X2: X-Men United [Blu-ray]
X2: X-Men United (Two-Disc Edition) [DVD]
X-Men Trilogy (X-Men / X2: X-Men United / X-Men: The Last Stand) [Blu-ray]
X-Men Trilogy (X-Men / X2: X-Men United / X-Men: The Last Stand) [4K UHD]
X-Men Trilogy (X-Men / X2: X-Men United / X-Men 3: The Last Stand) [DVD]

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The Blu-ray and two-disc DVD editions feature two commentary tracks (one by director Brian Singer and cinematographer Thomas Newton Sigel, the other by producers Lauren Schuler Donner and Ralph Winter and screenwriters Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and David Hayter), a making-of documentary, numerous short featurettes, and deleted scenes.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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