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As most of the world knows by now, X-Men is the live-action version of the of the Marvel comic strip, directed by Bryan Singer (of the Usual Suspects fame). Set in the not too distant future the X-Men are humans who thanks to genetic mutation have inherited special powers. On the surface, having special powers sounds great (you might think) but in X-Men the mutant race is an oppressed and persecuted minority, due to the bigotry, ignorance and fear of much of the non-mutant population. Furthermore an ambitious and influential Senator (Bruce Davison) wants to introduce a registration policy for mutants in an attempt to further restrict their civil rights. In response to this the mutant community is split into two camps led by Professor X, aka Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto, aka Erik Mangus Lensherr (Sir Ian McKellen). Magneto believes in the supremacy of the mutant population, which he is willing to use force to prove, whilst Professor X merely wants, equality, integration and peace. With fundamentally opposing views the two camps are set on a collision course with the future of the human race at stake.
X-Men is an entertaining action movie and it has some great fight scenes but it is pitched at its intended mass audience and carefully falls short explicit violence making it pretty much suitable for all but young children. However, although the X Men movie comes from a comic book background and is definitely aimed at a mass audience it also has a message and is a lot more highbrow than most super hero adaptations. X-Men for example opens with a scene in a Nazi concentration camp with a young Magneto witnessing his mother being shepherded off to the gas chamber and from this it is pretty clear that Director Bryan Singer is deliberately making a point and drawing a comparison. It is also worth noting that at the time of the X Men's creation, back in 1963, among the major political figures in pre civil rights America were Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and it is easy to draw comparisons with Professor X and Magneto. Comparisons can also be drawn between X-Men character Senator Robert Kelly and a certain Senator McCarthy. What is more, X-Men is particularly pertinent at a time when there is so much tabloid speculation and scare mongering with regard to genetic engineering.
With X-Men, Director Bryan Singer, a self-confessed fan, has stayed remarkably loyal to the comic books and has served up a commercial but extremely enjoyable film with impressive special effects, which has inevitably spawned a sequel and (in all likelihood) a franchise, which makes me for one very happy. Full of great characters and great performances from the likes of Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine), Anna Pacquin (as Rogue) and Famke Janssen (as Dr Jean Grey) and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (as Mystique). However, it is the excellent pairing of the Royal Shakespeare company's McKellen and Stewart opposite each other that really adds gravitas to the proceedings and my only real dissapointments were seeing the excellent and beautiful Halle Berry (as Storm) being under-used and the relatively short running length of 97 minutes.
"X-Men" is based on the classic Marvel comic book series.
Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), plays a hairy, hot-tempered, instant-healing mutant who somehow wound up with long steal claws that retract into and burst forth from his knuckles. He uses them as weapons, when he has to.
The jest of the story begins when a teenage girl mutant named Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Wolverine are attacked by a rivalrous, evil-doing, super-powerful mutant Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) and a few of his followers. Storm (Halle Berry) and Cyclops (James Marsden), students of goodly Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), run interference with Magneto and his band of brawlers. Then they lead Rogue and Wolverine to "Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters" (youngsters in this case means child and teenage mutant social outcasts with very specialized powers).
The ongoing conflict between Magneto & Xavier, the mutant students learn, is because Magneto intends to empower an instrument to genetically alter humans into mutants. Xavier believes this will likely have genocidal deadly consequences. It is Professor Xavier's job to teach the young mutants to use their powers for good, not evil. He has to help them recognize that Magneto is abusing his powers so that they don't become like him.
So it's up to Professor Xavier's professorship skills to teach the "gifted students" to stop Magneto. Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are as perfectly matched as Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones are in "Chicago." It's their acting skills brought together in one show that makes "X-Men" on DVD a magnificent watch~
Look and Feel - 3 Stars: The look and feel of this movie is the only thing that messes it up. Xmen is colorful and innovative, not gothic. A little better than the latest installment(Xmen: The Last Stand), but not even close. Is it too much to ask for them to have at least the essential characters in costumes that make you feel like you're watching the comic book? It would even be alright to leave Storm in black, because her powers are a bit gloomy; however, the others lose that feel! They don't even have to be pricey, just let the audience know that you tried. The look and feel of a movie is probably the most underrated, overlooked aspect of a movie, because if you're not even a fan, then this will draw you in and if you are a fan, then this make you even more enamored with the movie. Also, this can turn an average movie into a good movie and a good movie into an excellent movie. So, it definitely helps.
Story - 5 Stars: The story speaks to any minority and teaches everyone a lesson on race relation; each movie in the trilogy seems to move a little more away from this premise, which is the heart of the Xmen original comics. The movie really has a lot to do with establishing Xavier's, Rogue's, and Wolverine's characters and really how all other hero, villian, and indifferent characters revolve around them. Factoring into that is Magneto's plan to turn humans into mutants by any means necessary, Xavier's plan for coexistence between mutant and human, and the Xmen's goal to fullfill Xavier's mission by any means necessary. These factors meet head on. At this point in the trilogy, the gov't and media feed xenophobic rhetoric and/or pure hatred towards mutants to a human society and, just as in slavery times, without finding out or acknowledging the truth, society readily eats. It creates histeria and racial tones everywhere. Xavier and his school simply tolerates it and hopes it will get better and better until it ends; Magneto and his allies do not; they feel as though they've suffered enough and want immediate retribution instead of welcoming truce or change. Xavier and the Xmen must stop them in order to preserve humanity and to save humans from an unnatural mutation and certain death. Their differing stances on the mutant human issue has them made more or less acquaintances, when they used to be best friends. My theory is that Magneto feels that once humans are dissolved, maybe they can become best friends again. End even as a perfect bridge to the next movie. Also, Rogue is too severely limited, when the Xmen aren't the Avengers or JLA and need all the help they can get.
Special Effects - 4.5 Stars: Perfect except, no Ice man ice bridge. My favorite where battles with the heroes Vs. Mystique and Toad.
Actors - 5 Stars: It was as if they were all seasoned pros. No problems (seamless acting). Maybe that speaks volumes to the director Brian Singer.
As the opener to a new medium for the ever-popular Marvel comic book heroes X-Men this movie sets the stage while showing off some of the goods. I like that Bryan Singer is an intelligent director who realizes his vision with respect to the material AND the audience. Not everyone may have known who this band of rogues were but they DO now. I believe all the actors & crews tasked to tell this story did a fine job.
Some unfortunates in my opinion are that stories like this get updated & adjusted due to theater screen time, who gets which spot in the casting list, who looks the best in costume, and misses "essential" parts that aren't decided on by the fans. I was also disappointed that the characters seemed confined when it came to who they were....if you know the comic books you know what I mean...it was like they'd been sanitized just to sell toys. Commercialism at it's best I guess.
All in all, this movie has a great story to tell. The graphics truly enhanced this super-hero tale and the focus on the story as a whole was well thought. The location shots really helped add to the "real" of this movie. It showed that there really could be a scenario such as this right in your own neighborhood. This factor is a plus for a story of this type. Believing in the characters and their situations. Good story telling and a soundtrack to keep the emotion relevant. A keeper by far if you buy it. Well worth it's weight for all types of movie-goers. The second disc is great for more avid fans of the X-Men & the process used to bring this to the screen.
When this classic original was first released, I, like many of you, bought the VHS version of the movie. Unfortunately, VHS films tend to stretch and wear out over time, so I highly recommend that you buy this DVD version for your movie library! This first X-Men film introduces us to Dr. Xavier and his "school for gifted students" (mutants with unique special powers) as well as his graduated students, the X-Men: Cyclops, Storm, Dr. Jean Grey, & eventually Wolverine, Rogue, & Iceman. Good fights evil both within the mutant community (Magnito and his followers) and without ("regular" people that are afraid of the mutant's powers). This Marvel Comic inspired movie is an action packed sci-fi winner!