Thursday, September 23, 2010
X-MEN (2000). Director: Bryan Singer.
This is an excellent filmic realization of the long-running Marvel Comics series that first began publishing in 1963. A prologue shows us a young Polish boy, Eric Lensherr, being separated from his parents by Nazis, the stress of which makes him exhibit his amazing magnetic powers for the first time. Decades later this boy has become the evil mutant terrorist Magneto (Ian McKellen), opposed by his old friend Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who has formed a school to teach mutants how to use their powers and to hopefully prevent a war between humans and [evil] mutants that might decimate the planet. Into this school come two new X-Men, the young Marie or "Rogue" (Anna Paquin) and the enigmatic Logan or "Wolverine" (Hugh Jackman), who knows little about his past. Magneto wants to use Rogue [who can absorb other people's energy and powers] in a plan to turn world leaders into artificial mutants, thus preventing the passage of a mutant registration act that might lead to dire consequences for all of these people who are "different." Caught up in this battle royal are X-Men Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), Storm (Halle Berry), and Magneto's allies Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) and the Toad -- much improved from his comic version -- with his tremendously long and snapping tongue (Ray Park). Bruce Davison is Senator Kelly, who has introduced the bill and becomes a pawn between the two opposing groups. The highlight of X-Men is the climactic battle on Liberty Island and in and around the Statue of Liberty. The film is very good at getting across the sheer effort that it takes these heroes to use their powers [they are not all-powerful like Superman]. The music, the special effects, the solid direction and acting [especially from Stewart and the magnificent McKellen] and generally well-choreographed action scenes all combine to make one of the very best comic book adaptations. [However, if comic books and super-heroes leave you cold, X-Men probably will as well.] NOTE: Although the character of Sabretooth figured very heavily in the prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in this film Sabretooth and Wolverine don't even seem to know one another.
Verdict: All Systems Go! ***1/2.