In the not-so-distant future, the next stage in human evolution has been identified in a segment of society known as mutants, people with supernatural powers who are shunned by everyone else. And the mutants themselves have opposing views--the good guys work with the telepathic Professor Xavier (Stewart) to hone their skills and help each other, while the bad guys follow the, er, magnetic Magneto (McKellen) in his efforts to convince mankind of mutant supremacy. Each mutant has specific skills, and at the centre of the story are Wolverine (Jackman), a bitterly funny fighter with healing powers and a dubious past, and Rogue (Paquin), a tormented teen who sucks the life force from anyone she touches. Soon they throw their lot in with Xavier and his team to stop Magneto from his latest Big Plan.
Yes, the story combines the simple world-domination plot of a Bond film with a vast array of characters who aren't too difficult to keep straight (Janssen levitates things, Marsden has laser blaster eyes, Berry conjures storms, Park hops around like a frog, Romijn-Stamos shape-shifts, Mane snarls and slashes). And Hayter's script adds interest to the interaction with various shadings--romance, lifelong friendship, betrayal, and so on. Jackman is flat-out terrific as a kinetic, introspective hothead, spouting all the film's best lines, jousting with the good and bad guys, and just generally being a real person caught in a surreal situation. Paquin is another standout, with a thoughtful, intriguing performance. Stewart and McKellen don't stretch much, merely lending their wonderfully weighty presences to the proceedings. Meanwhile, Singer handles the drama and action cleverly, keeping things clear, nicely underplaying the impressive effects and hinting at lots of stuff that will presumably be explored in sequels. It's not a great film--it's still got that cheesy comic book undercurrent--but with its sharp humour and a sting of real life flowing through it, it's so entertaining that I won't complain. And I look forward to the next instalment.
dir Bryan Singer
scr David Hayter
with Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Halle Berry, Ray Park, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Tyler Mane, Matthew Sharp
release US 14.Jul.00; UK 18.Aug.00
A few good X-Men: Wolverine, Cyclops, Professor X, Storm and Jean Grey (Jackman, Marsden, Stewart, Berry and Janssen).
"Look out because here come more movies based on comic books. X-Men is now the front-runner in what a comic book movie should be. The movie centers around a group of genetically evolved humans called mutants. These beings are created when a recessive gene in a persons DNA make an unusual side-effect by enabling the person to have superhuman powers. The human race as a whole fears mutants because they still don't understand what a mutant is. In the movie there are two types of mutants: the kind who believes that mutants and humans can live in peace and harmony and then the kind who believes that mankind has no hope of understanding and will always discriminate against mutants. The latter is led by a mutant named Magneto (MeKellen), who tries to show mankind what it is to be a mutant by trying to change the world leaders into mutants. The team to stop him and his lackies is called the X-Men. Founded by Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart), they are a band of mutants that try to use their powers to benefit mankind and to stop Magneto. Most of the movie is centered on two new X-Men members, Wolverine and Rogue (Jackman and Paquin), who are just trying to be normal in a world that hates them. Magneto tries to change the world into mutant by using a machine specially designed to force the recessive gene into mutation. When the X-Men find out the machine negative side-effects, they go to stop Magneto. Awesome storyline and acting. The special effects were great. And Wolverine's sense of humor shines as the best attribute to this movie. This is a must-see in the theaters and has been proclaimed as this year's Matrix. It's perfect for everyone, even if you are not caught up in the comics or cartoon. Just be on the look out for more comic book related movies now." --Robert A, Texas.
"I was going to wait until it came on cable. But my brother saw it, said it was good; and we were out of town with no other movie we really wanted to see. I persuaded my other half to go see this, because I needed my weekly fix of movie, popcorn and the big screen. Without ever having read the comic book this is based on, we both really ended up enjoying this movie - the characters are quite interesting, and the premise that mutants exist is one I can entirely believe in this day of cloning and test-tube babies. The plot is fun, storyline easy to follow and it was quite an enjoyable movie - glad my brother recommended it. A good movie." --Laurie T, Minneapolis.
"Great movie - loved the plot which made the whole thing seem like a comic book come to life. Loved the characters and their wacky names. But I also liked the touch of 'reality' that gave us a sense that these were real people stuck in the middle of a 'real' life crisis. The effects were fabulous, and I'm looking forward to a sequel (there must be a sequel; there were so many hints at the end I was surprised they didn't try to sell tickets for it.) Really good, old fashioned, exciting fun -- with a plausible 'moral message' about the importance of accepting all individuals ... even if they can read your mind." --Jo C, West Sussex.