"2′ – This "’ mars the plot
As fun as it can be at times, watching adults in Underoos save the world in “2: -Men United” isn’t terribly reassuring.
Rather, it’s a little troubling, and not because there’s anything wrong with grown men and women cavorting around in multicolored unitards: Whatever two classically trained actors (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) choose to do with a supermodel in blue body paint (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and the creepy little girl from “The Piano” (Anna Paquin, all grown up) on the privacy of their own movie screen is, I guess, their business. It’s only if they end up on top of the box office when the economy is sour and terror alert levels are elevated that I feel compelled to play the heavy by calling it a little silly.
Even during troubled times, not every movie need be dour. Director Bryan Singer insists on overshadowing what “2” does well (impressive special effects, wry humor that references its comic-book source material, a swift-moving plot and a mutant twist on industry-standard fight scenes) . But he adds just enough message, enough warmed-over anti-
McCarthyism and enough Hollywood clunk to cripple it.
But not even those strengths are clear-cut. Because I saw the movie at a midnight screening, I think I would have been especially sensitive to it dragging. “2” didn’t, spry for a movie that clocks in at a portly two-and-a-half hours. The flip side, though, is its pace through that entire length. It’s almost like hearing a breathless 11-year-old comic-book fan summarize God knows how many years of mutant mythology in the movie’s running time.
I’m certainly not suggesting filmmakers should exacerbate the sequelitis epidemic even further and bloat trilogies into four-parters, but there’s almost too much movie stuffed into “2.” As a result, it’s not so much a story as Mutants on Parade, which makes the all-star cast seem like a waste: Stewart, McKellen (star of Singer’s “Apt Pupil”), Paquin and Halle Berry are slumming, while Romijn-Stamos and Famke Janssen are reaching. Somewhere in between, Hugh Jackman (a name I still think needs to come up at Moe’s bar on “The Simpsons” – “Hugh Jackman? Guys, be honest: Do I have a Hugh Jackman?”) must reduce the most compelling role to metal claws and one-liners.
Maybe it’s not fair to compare, but I turned on the TV in a post-nap doze (the aftereffect of staying out late with mutants earlier, perhaps) and watched the end of another sort of premiere, “Spider-Man” on HBO. And even though the computer-generated action scenes looked cheesy compared to “2,” it reminded me why directors are genetically altering old comic books – and how hard it is to do it successfully.
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