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X2 Almost on a par with the Y2K hit X-Men, this exciting sequel kicks off the summer movie season in style. While not quite matching the sense of wonder that accompanied the first picture, this one boasts a more polished script, vastly improved special effects, and a longer running time (135 minutes, a full half-hour over its predecessor) that gives more players more time to strut their stuff. This time, kindly Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his band of do-gooder mutants find themselves teaming up with arch-villain Magneto (Ian McKellen) in an effort to bring down a ruthless military man (Brian Cox) hell-bent on eradicating every mutant on the planet. Practically every character from the first film returns, and there's the welcome addition of Alan Cumming as the sweet-natured Nightcrawler, a blue-skinned German with the ability to teleport out of tight jams. As with most sci-fi sequels, this will seem incomprehensible to folks who skipped the first film, but even they will be able to glean the subtext often found in superhero adventures: A just and civilized society has no room for prejudice against those who are born different. X2 hammers that point home, with thinly veiled outbursts against warmongering rightwing administrations and homophobia. Hugh Jackman again excels as Wolverine, with noteworthy support by McKellen and especially Famke Janssen as soulful telepath Jean Grey.
THE MATRIX RELOADED: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne.
DOWN WITH LOVE: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor.
POKEMON HEROES: Animated.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS: Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz