X2: X-Men United Review

X2: X-Men UnitedSynopsis
When William Stryker (Brian Cox), the man responsible for giving Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) his adamantium skeleton, arrives at the mansion to steal Cerebro, the X-Men must find out why he wants Cerebro and stop him.

Like Spider-Man, my first exposure to the X-Men was the animated cartoon series of the 90s. It featured many classic X-Men characters, including Wolverine. Even though he was part of a team, Wolverine still received episodes focused on him. His mysterious past and complex personality is ripe for storytelling possibilities. X2: X-Men United takes a similar approach. While this is an ensemble movie, much of the story’s focus is on Wolverine and his past. When your movie has someone like Hugh Jackman who completely embodies your franchise’s most popular character, why not take advantage of it?

In X-Men, Jackman did well as Wolverine. However, we only get a peek of what he could do in the role. This time, he fully gets into the character, truly feeling like he is Wolverine. After leaving Xavier’s mansion at the end of the last film searching for answers about his past, he returns at the start of this film and it feels like he just went to the grocery store. He slides back in with the rest of the characters, and even acts as a guardian for the younger mutants, with ease. Whether it is the ferocity of Wolverine’s aggressiveness or the protective nature he displays, Jackman completely and effortlessly pulls it off.

The main cast from the last entry returns: James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Rebecca Romijn. Shawn Ashmore also returns and receives a much larger role this time around, even becoming the emotional pulse for the non-Wolverine parts of the story. Between Ashmore, Paquin, and new addition Aaron Stanford, X2 provides a great look at the next generation of mutants in the ideological struggle between Professor Xavier’s X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants. Each of these three younger stars each do wonderful bringing across their characters’ outlook to life.

However, of the new cast members, hands-down the best addition is Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler. Cumming’s Nightcrawler brings a balance to the team. His strong religious beliefs and outsider’s perspective adds another ideological wrinkle to the story. Cumming himself fits in with the rest of the cast, providing a good blend of awkward humor and emotion.

While X2 is very much a Wolverine-centered film, it doesn’t shove the other characters to the side; they still receive plenty of their own development. The love triangle between Cyclops, Jean, and Wolverine comes to a head. Jean is certainly coming into her own character and we see glances of her hidden potential and Storm is moving into more of a leadership role on the team. One of the best side-stories of the film is actually when it focuses on the three younger X-Men: Rogue (Paquin), Iceman (Ashmore), and Pyro (Stanford). Their story offers a narrative for being different when everyone expects you to be β€œnormal,” a very relatable experience for many.

But of course, the focal point of the story is Wolverine’s past in the Weapon Plus program and how he came to have adamantium bonded to his skeleton. The story, loosely based on the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, which is actually not centered around Wolverine, introduces us to William Stryker, the man responsible for giving Wolverine his adamantium skeleton. We’ve seen two sides of Wolverine: a violent, animalistic side and a softer, caring side. Outside of his interactions with Rogue, we didn’t see him with the younger X-Men in the previous film. In this film, even though he is violent and has a violent past, as we see through Stryker, Wolverine is willing to be a protector and mentor to the younger generation of mutants. Not only was his backstory expanded upon in this movie but so was his character, experiencing the most growth of any of the adult X-Men.

Nightcrawler is one of my favorite X-Men characters. The opening scene showed exactly how powerful he can be if he didn’t have his morals. What’s more, after the opening, which does a great job of starting off strong and capturing your attention, this film never feels dull. Throughout the entirety of the film, I always felt engaged. Even during the quieter moments, there was something worth paying attention to or something interesting worth concentrating on. Many superhero films stumble when they aren’t focused on the action but this superhero film does not land in that pitfall.

I thought X2: X-Men United was GREAT πŸ˜€ Much like Spider-Man 2, with the characters’ origins out of the way, this sequel is free to jump right into the story without needing much exposition. Almost every character experiences some sort of growth and the film remains exhilarating the whole way through. Back in the early days of the superhero genre boom, before it really blew up, the second entries were apparently the entries of note.


Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director / Story
David Hayter – Story / Screenplay
Zak Penn – Story
Michael Dougherty – Screenplay
Dan Harris – Screenplay
John Ottman – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan / Wolverine
Patrick Stewart – Professor Charles Xavier
Famke Janssen – Jean Grey
James Marsden – Scott Summers / Cyclops
Halle Berry – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Anna Paquin – Rogue
Shawn Ashmore – Bobby Drake / Iceman
Alan Cumming – Curt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Aaron Stanford – John Allerdyce / Pyro
Ian McKellen – Eric Lensherr / Magneto
Rebecca Romijn – Mystique
Brian Cox – William Stryker
Kelly Hu – Yuriko Oyama / Lady Deathstrike
Cotter Smith – President McKenna
Bruce Davison – Senator Kelly

Elf Review: Christmas in July Blogathon 2018

Well, here we are. We’ve reached the final entry of the 2018 Christmas in July Blogathon. I may be biased, but I can’t think of anyone better to conclude this year’s festivities. This concluding review comes from non-other than someone you all know and love: me! Yoy might’ve guessed that I would be reviewing Elf if you follow my twitter. Elf is always at the top of my list of things to watch during the holiday season. I’m surprised it took me this long to review it. It’s been long enough, let’s get to it already!

Elf movie posterSynopsis
Buddy (Will Farrell) learns that after growing up at the North Pole, he is not an elf. He heads to New York City in hopes of reconnecting with his biological father (James Caan).

In talking to people, Will Farrell seems to be one of those actors that either you like or you don’t. I haven’t meet anyone who was like β€œHe’s ok.” However, at the same time, I haven’t meet anyone who didn’t like Elf. Ferrell’s unique personality and comedy is the perfect fit for Buddy, an elf who is a fish-out-of-water in New York City. He wonderfully portrays Buddy’s innocence and unfamiliarity of being in a big city. As delightful as Ferrell is, he doesn’t outshine the rest of the cast. Zooey Deschanel is a treat as Jovie, beautiful and sweet, seeing that Buddy is someone special. Veteran actors James Caan and Mary Steenburgen are great together, easily pulling off being a married couple. Daniel Tay as Buddy’s half-brother Michael might just be the most underappreciated character of the film, possessing as much heart and love for others as Buddy.

Christmas films tend to have a similar message about caring for others and showing that love in meaningful ways. Elf is no different but it does so in the classic comedy way of dropping the main character in an unfamiliar environment. And Buddy is someone worth rooting for. You want to see him succeed because, at his core, he is a good person. As a result, he brings a lot of heart to film. Which in the end is why this film is so beloved, despite mixed feeling towards Ferrell’s comedy, and instantly became a holiday staple.

I thought Elf was GREAT πŸ˜€ Regardless of your feelings on Will Ferrell, chances are you’ll enjoy this movie. Luckily, Ferrell doesn’t carry the movie alone and the supporting cast around him all give extraordinary performances. Filled to the brim with heart, you’ll have no trouble finding this easily quotable film on many people’s must-watch list during the holiday season.

Favorite Quote
Buddy: You sit on a throne of lies.


Cast & Crew
Jon Favreau – Director
David Berenbaum – Writer
John Debney – Composer

Will Ferrell – Buddy
Zooey Deschanel – Jovie
James Caan – Walter
Mary Steenburgen – Emily
Daniel Tay – Michael
Bob Newhart – Papa Elf
Edward Asner – Santa
Amy Sedaris – Dev
Andy Richter – Morris
Kyle Gass – Eugene
Michael Lerner – Fulton
Faizon Love – Gimbel’s Manager
Peter Dinklage – Miles Finch

As I’ve mentioned a few time before on this blog, I play a lot of Overwatch. I also have been following the Overwatch League (OWL) as best I can (the season 1 grand finals start tomorrow, btw). So this year, I am inviting OWL personality Soe Gschwind-Penski to our holiday party.

That’s the wrap! Tomorrow, I will have a summary of this year’s entries and party guests. Thanks for hanging about during the blogathon!

Until next time, cheers!

Lightning Review: Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd movie posterSynopsis
Before they went on a trip across the country together, Harry (Derek Richardson) and Lloyd (Eric Christian Olsen) first met in high school. Their high school principal (Eugene Levy) give Harry and Lloyd the task of finding β€œspecial” students for their class. Little do they know, the class is a scheme by the principal to con money for him and his girlfriend (Cheri Oteri).

I think it is safe to say that Dumb and Dumber was a bit of a surprise hit. On paper, the premise and characters sound ridiculous but it works because it has a lot of heart. That’s where Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd fails. It lacks the heart that makes the first film work. Like any comedy follow up, it tries to make similar jokes as its predecessor since that’s often part of what made it work in the first place. This time, they fail to hit their mark. The film wasn’t nearly as funny and I barely laughed. When I did, it was often because of how absurd it was, and not the good absurd that Dumb and Dumber is. It has moments that are marginally tolerable but they are mere drops in a bucket of dirty water. One redeeming quality I can see in this movie is Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen did a good job of imitating Jim Carrey’s Lloyd and Jeff Daniel’s Harry, respectively. The biggest problem with this prequel is that it does nothing to expand on the characters that we see in the first film.

I thought Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd was BAD 😦 With the exception of a handful, the jokes fall flat and it doesn’t have any sort of redeeming qualities that I can see. I guess this kind of poor quality is what happens when a studio goes for a cash grab on a property and the guys that made the first film a success are not included.

Also read my reviews for Dumb and Dumber and Dumb and Dumber To.


Cast & Crew
Troy Miller – Director / Screenplay
Robert Brener – Story / Screenplay
Eban Schletter – Composer

Derek Richardson – Harry Dunne
Eric Christian Olsen – Lloyd Christmas
Mimi Rogers – Mrs. Dunne
Luis Guzman – Ray
Rachel Nichols – Jessica
Eugene Levy – Principal Collins
Cheri Oteri – Ms. Heller
Elden Henson – Turk
Josh Braaten – Toby
William Lee Scott – Carl
Michelle Krusiec – Ching Chong
Shia LeBeouf – Lewis
Teal Redmann – Terri
Brian Posehn – Store Clerk