X-Men


Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written by:Christopher McQuarrie, Josh Whedon
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry
Released: July 13, 2000
Grade: B

Humans are evolving and a race of “mutants” now exists.  These people are special and have singular qualities that are vastly superior to regular people.  There is a campaign to treat them as equals but general consensus dictates that they cannot be trusted and should be eliminated.

So what kind of qualities am I talking about?  Professor X (Stewart) is their aged leader and has tremendous psychopathic abilities.  Wolverine (Jackman) has tremendous physical strength and metal claws protruding from his knuckles.  Storm (Berry) can influence the weather.  Cyclops (Marsden) can shoot lasers from his eyes.  You get the picture?

On the other hand, there is an evil race of mutants led by the powerful Magneto (McKellan) who want to destroy all humans so that the mutants can dominate the Earth.  When Magneto comes across a very important mutant named Rogue (Paquin), he discovers the secret to fulfilling his objectives and thus it’s up to the “good” mutants to try to save the human race.

It seems most every comic book and cartoon series has made its venture to the big screen and X-Men has come across with some heavy financial backing.  It’s a big cast with some elaborate special effects that are well crafted.  It’s quite dark and has striking similarities with the original Batman (released way back in 1989) only with more commercialism.

The plot has substance but is confusing at times and you’ll have to be paying close attention to keep up.  It takes a long time to set up the characters and once the action gets started and the interest builds, it’s all but over.  Over 45 minutes of the film was cut by the studio to try to make the film faster and more audience-friendly.  Without having seen the extra footage, I feel sure it would have made X-Men a better view.

A bigger annoyance is that the ending so obviously sets up a sequel that it’s hard to feel you’ve reached a conclusion.  It’s like we’ve seen part one and we’ll have to wait a couple of years to find out how it ends.  I guess it’s similar to reading a comic book in that the super villain always manages to elude them so that more adventures can be created.  I shouldn’t have to pay to see the next movie because technically I haven’t seen the end of the first one.

I was surprised to see Bryan Singer as director given his previous two projects - The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil.  Singer’s direction is intense and creates strong interest and suspense.  The X-Men aren’t exactly household names and Singer has created a film that will generate heavy interest in the franchise.

It’s always nice to see summer blockbusters that aren’t just plastic characters acting cheesy storylines.  Whilst not covering any new ground, X-Men is simple entertainment that’ll sucker you in for a couple of hours.  Take plenty of popcorn.