I caught the midnight sneak preview of “X2: X-Men United” last night at Seattle’s Cinerama theater. Overall I thought it was pretty good. I like the director (Bryan Singer), the special effects have vastly improved since the first film, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) was fantastic. I don’t want to talk too much about the plot, but the story was believable (in a comic-book-universe kind of way), and although I saw the ending coming a mile away it still made for a satisfying finale.
My only real beef with the film was the egregious product placements. I know there were a few in the first X-Men movie and that product placements are becoming more common and acceptable in major motion picture, but I thought X2 really went overboard. I didn’t mind the smaller stuff — the fight scene in the Wal*Mart, Storm using Visa to buy training equipment, Cyclops wearing Addias, etc. — but the addition of Dr. Pepper (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to the X-Man team was just too much.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the fact that X2 introduced new heroes such as Nightcrawler and Shadowcat. But those two were taken from the original comic books, and were well integrated into the story. Dr. Pepper, on the other hand, is a brand new character, and (according to Entertainment Weekly) was added to the X2 screenplay after filming had already started. The worst thing was how they restructured the whole plot around him, with lots of flashback sequences that showed his previous life as mild-mannered Jonathan Pibb M.D. and the “freak carbonation accident” that gave him his powers.
And what’s up with his powers, anyhow? Does Dr. Pepper’s mutant ability to “quench” really add anything to the X-Men team? I mean, I guess it came in handy in X2, since Magneto’s master plan was to team up with Drought (another new character) to attack New York with a “Thirst Ray,” but I still thought the whole character was pretty gratuitous. Plus, Hoffman looked ridiculous in that dark-purple leather costume.
So, in summary: I liked X2 overall, but found Dr. Pepper hard to swallow (ha!). In fact, the only thing cool about Dr. Pepper was his catchphrase: he would twist the heads off enemies and shout “You’re not a winner! Please try again!” That was pretty badass.