X2: X-Men United
While the X-Men are seeking a teleporting mutant who has attempted to assassinate the President, the students at Professor Xavier's (Patrick Stewart) school suddenly find themselves under military attack.
The X-Men have always been popular among Cosmo voters, perhaps because so many of the voters are gay and can relate to the motif of outsiders who are feared and shunned - a theme that openly-gay director Bryan Singer successfully emphasized in the second installment of the franchise. So its not surprising that X2: X-Men United fared well, particularly in the technical awards...but it is surprising that it picked up an astonishing 15 nominations, the second-most nominated film of 2003. Enough nominations, in fact, to give Bryan Singer a Best Director nod even though he was completely overlooked by the other major film awards.
Ian McKellen has always been much-admired among Cosmo voters, and his portrayal of Magneto earned him a double nomination for Supporting Actor (along with his third Supporting Actor nod for Gandalf) as well as a nomination for Best Villain. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is a fan favorite, so it's not surprising that he was honored with nominations for Favorite Male Heroic Character and Actor's Character You Would Most Like to be Intimate With. But the most inspired Intimate Actress nomination is for Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' portrayal of Mystique, since her character can morph into the form of anyone, male or female.
But as popular as X2 proved to be during the nominations, it could not withstand the Return of the King juggernaut, and ended up going home with only a single award.
Awesome, awesome movie - in many ways, even better than the first in the franchise. Magneto's villainy is so much more complex than your typical science fiction/fantasy villain. It's very easy to sympathize with him and understand why he is reacting as he is, even if you don't agree with his approaches. I do regret that Storm (always one of my favorite characters) had do little to do in this film, but I understand why the focus was elsewhere and don't disagree with that decision. (I would just have made it a longer film.) In terms of plot complexity, character development, and effects, this franchise stands out as one of my favorites in this sort of genre, and "X2" is an excellent addition. Recommended without reservation.
Reportedly, Ian McKellen didn't see the film in the theaters when it was first released. When he eventually saw it on video, he was so taken with the "coming out" scene that he called Brian Singer and asked what it would take to be cast in the third film. (The answer, not surprisingly, was a ticket to the "Return of the King" premiere.) Gay audiences and their "straight-but-not-narrow" friends will appreciate the not-so-subtle mutant-as-queer subtext that is emphasized more in this film than previous incarnations.
My grade: A
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