||X2: X-MEN UNITED, the remarkable sequel to X-MEN, picks up shortly after the first film's finale. At the White House, a would-be assassin--the acrobatic, teleporting blue mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming)--menaces the president. Meanwhile, in the Canadian Rockies, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) searches for answers to his mysterious past at the top-secret facility where he received his metallic skeleton and claws. Back at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Storm (Halle Berry) instruct students Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and Pyro (Aaron Stanford), while Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Cyclops (James Marsden) pay a visit to the imprisoned Magneto (Ian McKellen). However, Magneto has a secret weapon in the shape-shifting Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). Soon allies and enemies alike will unite to defeat the hate-filled military scientist William Stryker (Brian Cox), who wants to rid the world of mutants. When Stryker launches a ruthless two-pronged attack that leaves the school under siege and Xavier and Cyclops captured, Wolverine and the remaining X-Men must spring to action to save their friends and prevent all-out genocide.^Even better than its excellent precursor, X2 delves deeper into the X-Men mythology, introducing new characters and touching on essential storylines from the decades-long run of the Marvel comic book series. Providing larger action-packed set pieces and more advanced special effects, director Bryan Singer further develops the characters of Jean Grey, Storm, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Iceman, Pyro, and Mystique. Each member of the cast breathes vitality into their mutant characters with Wolverine, perfectly portrayed by Jackman, once again the wild heart at the center. A love letter to longtime fans of the comic and an amazingly entertaining movie for everyone else, X2: X-MEN UNITED is that rare breed of sequel that manages to improve on the original in every way.