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When the Oval Office is invaded by a teleporting Mutant, Nightcrawler, Alan Cumming, the President is nearly killed. William Stryker, Brian Cox, a former Army commander and Presidential advisor, seizes the opportunity to launch a full-scale offensive against Mutants in general, beginning with an attack on the School for the Gifted run by Professor Charles Xavier, Patrick Stewart. Magneto, Ian McKellen, who has, in the past, advocated a war against Humanity - he was tired of discrimination - proposes that the Mutants, including Xavier's X-Men, join forces to combat this new threat. And so the warrior Mutants are back in action: Wolverine, Hugh Jackman, the fighting machine with retractable metal claws and an amazing gift for self-healing; Storm, Halle Berry, who is able to manipulate the weather; Jean Grey, Famke Janssen, who is telepathic and telekinetic; Cyclops, James Marsden, whose eyes can release a powerful beam of energy; Mystique, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, a beautiful shape-shifter, and Rogue, Anna Paquin, who can absorb the powers and the memories of anyone she touches. The stage is set for a lot more comic-book action. This sequel to the successful X-Men, released three years ago, is longer (by half an hour), bigger and, occasionally, better. If you didn't see Part 1, or if you aren't particularly enthralled by this kind of comic book stuff, don't bother: director Bryan Singer doesn't waste time filling you in on what happened in the first installment - you're expected to know all that, and the target audience will. There are some eye-popping, seamlessly executed special effects and state-of the-art cinema wizardry, but the plot isn't particularly exciting or original - lots of battles and races against time. Hugh Jackman confirms his powerful screen presence as Wolverine, and the rest of the cast members pretty much go through the motions, though I did wonder if Brian Cox, who plays the belligerent and warmongering Presidential advisor, based his character on Donald Rumsfeld.

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