A Few Good X-Men
X-Men is the first installment of the X-Men film series, and it is directed by Bryan Singer and stars Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, and Anna Paquin.
It is worth noting before I discuss anything major that I have never been a comic book reader, meaning that I have little to no prior knowledge whatsoever of the X-Men comics and how they might exactly pertain to the film franchise.
If there's anything that we can take away from the 21st century thus far, it's that superhero movies and anything to tag alongside said superhero movies, such as toys, video games, and so on, are popping up like weeds. With special effects and CGI and all that stuff now having reached a certain point of evolution, it's no wonder that someone decided, "Hey! Look at all this cool stuff we can do with computers now! I bet we can make superheroes a thing again!" Kicking off the 2000's superhero resurgence was Bryan Singer's X-Men.
The film is more so an origin story. The X-Men are a species of abnormal humans known simply as mutants. Mutants possess a genetic trait known as an X-gene which gives them superhuman powers and abilities. As you could imagine, normal humans don't take too kindly to mutants, believing them to be dangerous. Leading the effort against the mutants is U.S. Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison), who is attempting to pass the Mutant Registration Act. This Act would force mutants to reveal their identities and abilities to the public. One mutant who won't stand for this is the metal-manipulating Magneto (McKellan). It is shown in the opening scene that Magneto, also known by the name Erik Lehnsherr, was a survivor at an Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland while still just a young boy. Magneto desires to have mutants prevail over humanity, but this is met with opposition from the telepathic mutant Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart). Xavier runs a school for young mutants in Westchester County, New York, and he believes that mutants and humanity can live together in peace.
X-Men is a franchise that seemingly focuses on a multitude of characters. Thing is, the films usually turn into a top-heavy affair in which the most important mutants are the ones doing all the fighting. Other mutants that are of the most importance to this first installment outside of Charles Xavier and Magneto is the clawed Logan A.K.A The Wolverine (Jackman), the weather-controlling Storm (Berry), the telekinetic Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the lasers-for-eyes Cyclops (James Marsden), and the blue-skinned shapeshifter Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). Already this seems like a lot of different characters to keep up with, and there are quite a few more to look out for which I won't bother to discuss here. Each of these different mutants attempts to be relevant to the plot outside of physical and moral support, and, for the most part, they succeed. X-Men moves along at a steady pace and does whatever it takes to make sure each of its main mutant characters gets at least a small moment of meaningful screen time.
- X-Men is usually good at delivering when it comes to the mutant action, and that's no exception here. The fighting is fluent and never overblown without any Michael Bay-ish explosion sequences or frustrating shaky cam.
- Editing is problematic for this first X-Men installment. Some scenes of characters being in some form of danger quickly cut away to something else to not allow room for dramatic or emotional effect. An extra 5-10 minutes to the 104 minute run time would have probably been helpful.
Anyway, there's not much to say. X-Men doesn't try to be anything groundbreaking in its own right. It can be credited with launching the still-going-strong X-Men film franchise as well as being one of the first of many successful superhero films of the 2000's. For what it is, it's a straightforward and fun superhero adventure that will easily please comic book fans. Compared to other superhero films, it's nothing fantastic, but certainly not anything horrendous either.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: