X2 is one of those sequels that moviegoers dream of -- it's bigger, badder, and ten times more explosive than Bryan Singer's classy but hindered original. Aided by a much larger budget, and the comfort of the mythology already introduced, X2 goes for broke from the get-go and doesn't let up until the fantastic finale that'll leave die-hard fans sweating in their seats. That's not to say non-comic-book readers are left in the dust with this one -- essentially, that's the genius of this sequel...While building their own film universe with these beloved mutants, the filmmakers obviously have love and respect for the original 30-plus years of printed history -- in this flick alone, they tackle three key stories of the comic and somehow still make it all work for the non-readers out there. Thinking back, it's fitting that X-Men was so much of a setup because this is where the juice really gets cookin' and the payoff begins. First off, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) fans beware, because this is what you've been waiting for -- the berserker is officially unleashed, and audiences everywhere now have a new iconic movie hero because of it. Of course, it's not all Wolvie's story in this darker tale...Old faces are fresh again when plots blossom and characters are fleshed out in fantastic fashion as everyone, at some point, gets their time in the sun (besides Cyclops [James Marsden], who sadly disappears for one full hour during the film). Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan continue to be fabulous in their roles, giving instant credibility and creating flawless characterizations to these two tragic old friends. New to the scene is Alan Cumming in a surprising turn as the mysterious teleporter Nightcrawler. His makeup and teleporting effects are exceptional, while the accent he chose is flawless (unlike Academy Award-winner Halle Berry's in the original, which is gladly absent here). Of course, with a new sequel come new villains, and this one has them in spades. First off, there's Brian Cox -- one mammoth actor that gives birth to one of the nastiest bad guys in history, William Stryker, a scientist who holds the key to Wolverine's past. Also on hand is the gorgeous Kelly Hu as Lady Deathstrike, a siren who isn't on the screen long, but does take part in one of the most grueling knock-down, drag-out fights in X-Men history, automatically making her a classic villain that'll be remembered long after the credits roll. Speaking of action, if the theater had seat belts, you'd want to strap yourself in, because Singer and company have crafted a film that makes the first one pale in comparison. It's the tasty treat that fans and newcomers alike have been waiting for -- a meaty, action-packed, story-driven superhero film that delivers on the grandness and scale that the characters and this sequel deserved.