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A cheat sheet for noninitiates

Until I went to Skyline Cinema’s midnight screening of “2: -Men United,” the entire mutant phenomenon wasn’t even a blip on my radar screen. I thought the mutant fad had vanished with the last of the teenage ninja turtles lunch boxes. Who knew there was a whole other generation of mutant fans – many of whom stayed up until 2:20 a.m. Friday, May 2, watching the latest installment of the -Men?

This review is for the non–Men aware. It’s to save noninitiates from getting a third of the way through the movie and having to turn to the person next to them and ask, “Who are these two guys?” – because when I asked Dan that annoying question, he just mumbled, “Dude, I can’t even begin to tell you.” So, I was generally lost for most of the movie, attempting to figure out who was a good mutant and who was evil.

For the -Men zealots, I refer you to Dan’s review: He’s readthe comic books. Just in case anyone’s as clueless as I was, here are a few guidelines:



First, don’t be put off by the idea of adults in Underoos saving the world. Dan overrated the whole adults-in-tights scenario.

Second, don’t even try to keep up with the characters. There’s just too many of them. Before writing this review, I had to “cheat” and read other reviews so I didn’t lead you astray in the plot’s general outline. Film critic James Berardinelli conferred with my confusion, writing: “Unless you’re a fan of the comic book series, you need a cheat sheet to keep them all straight.” Roger Ebert wrote, it’s “the kind of movie you enjoy for its moments, even though they never add up.” Phew. I thought it was just me.



The film opens with Nightcrawler, who teleports to the Oval Office, alternating between a dark, forked-tail creature and a careening black mist. Partially as a result of Nightcrawler’s attack, General William Stryker (Brian Cox) raids Professor avier’s (Patrick Stewart) school, scattering mutants and brainwashing the professor to kill his own students. Meanwhile, a group of “good” mutants – including Wolverine (alias Edward Scissorhands, played by Hugh Jackman), Storm (weather goddess Halle Berry) and a few other superheroes with such powers as telekinesis, flame-hurling, laser-beam shooting and freezing anything at will – try to save the world.

So here’s your oversimplified cheat sheet: the above group of mutants are “good.” They’re who you should be rooting for – even Nightcrawler. That makes Stryker “really bad,” along with the turncoat mutant, Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), who battles Wolverine in a “Edward-Scissorhands-meets-an-angry-Mrs.-Scissorhands” scene. Magneto and shape-shifter Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, artistically painted blue) are “bad” because they want to kill all humans. Under the influence of evil hypnosis, Professor avier is “bad” for a while, but deep down, he’s one of the good guys.

Overall, the movie’s worth a look – it’s entertaining, the pace is quick, and the special effects are fantastic.

Clarification

In my last review, I put two separate thoughts into one sentence, which caused a reader to perceive it in a way that never occurred to me. My reaction to Dustin Hoffman’s character was: His mysterious and most probable bisexuality made his character intriguing. His perverted actions and comments (both hetero- and homosexual) repelled me. In no way did I intend to link bisexuality with perversion.


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