Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan
Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier
Ian McKellen as Magneto/Erik Lensherr
James Marsden as Cyclops/Scott Summers
Famke Janssen as Jean Grey
Halle Berry as Storm/Ororo Munroe
Anna Paquin as Rogue/Marie
Rebecca Romijn as Mystique
Tyler Mane as Sabertooth
Ray Park as Toad
Bruce Davison as Senator Kelly
First of all, have you seen thhe new X-Men movie? You should at some point. It’s very good. At any rate, let’s revisit the movie that started it all.
The X-Men use an atypical superhero concept. They don’t really lead double lives though they do have code names. They are a combination of political orgnization and strike force. Born with superhuman abilities, mutants are the next stage in human evolution. Because of that, humans tend to fear and hate them. Charles Xavier and his X-Men both try to convince humans that they need not fear mutants and fight against mutants who prove to actually deserve this fear and hatred. One of these mutants, Magneto, has a different take on humanity. He sees a bunch of bigots who are determined to start a war, a war Magneto does not intend to lose.
Performances are all-around solid, with three standing out: Patrick Stewart (Xavier), Ian McKellen (Magneto), and of course, Hugh Jackman (Wolverine). Stewart and McKellen are Shakespearean veterans, so of course they’re great. Jackman really gets into the role of the anti-social Wolverine. He understands this part and brings it to life. No wonder he’s the focal point of this movie franchise. Well, that and the fact that Wolverine’s the most popular X-Man. The other actors do good jobs as well, with one exception: James Marsden. His acting is just terrible. He never really shows much emotion and has very limited facial expressions. As much heat as director Bryan Singer has taken for making so little use of Cyclops, the field leader of the X-Men, at least Marsden’s miserable performances aren’t as big an issue. Still, it means that Norm Spencer of the 1990s cartooon is the Cyclops to me.
The story goes along great. The philosophical themes are handled quite well. That’s what the X-Men are all about, after all. Character templates showcase the different reactions to the discovery of mutants. We see that Xavier is a man who believes in hope and love. Magneto is different. His experiences as a Holocaust survivor have hardened him and unfortunately lead him to consistently make the wrong choices. Storm is representative of Xavier’s students who question if it’s wise to help a human race that hates and fears them. And the face of those humans is Senator Kelly, advocate of requiring all mutants to register with the government. and who privately wants all mutants in prison. Still, others like Wolverine aren’t interested in these sorts of things. Regardless, they end up involved, like it or not.
If you’ve read my reviews of Tim Burton’s Batman movies, you know that my biggest criticism of them was that they had lots of plot holes. Same is true here. There’s a scene where Wolverine swipes Cyclops’ motorcycle. But how could Wolverine have beat Cyclops there when (A) Cyclops and Storm started walking towards the garage before Wolverine, and (B) Wolverine was a recent recruit and Cyclops had been there for many years? Also, the way Wolverine and Rogue meet, are rescued from Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants by Cyclops and Storm, and the way Rogue turns out to be the key to Magneto’s plan comes together much too conveniently.
This movie began a trend among in superhero movies of building up to a sequel, despite many of these movies not getting one (see Daredevil, Superman Returns). This involves Wolverine leaving for a short while because of a place that might contain clues to a past he doesn’t remember. Also, one of the presumed dead members of The Brotherhood of Mutants turns out to be still alive.
Despite plot holes, X-Men is an outstanding film. The fact that this franchise has not gone more than three years in between installments since the 2000 original says it all.
Overall: 8 out of 10