I have heard it said that X-Men was the beginning of the comic book movie genre that we have today. I don’t know if that’s true, but it was definitely an important film in it’s own right. It had a much more serious tone than previous films of its type. I think that’s the reason this movie is looked at as being the genesis of where the genre is at 15 years later.
The movie takes place in the “not too distant future”. In this world, some humans have evolved into mutants, which sparks a debate about what to do with them. Meanwhile, former colleagues Eric Lensherr (Ian McKellen) and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) form groups of mutants for completely different and conflicting purposes.
I found the debate about the mutants to be very interesting. If this were to happen in real life I can see this issue coming up in exactly this way. One side argues that the mutants are people and deserve the same treatment as everyone else. The other side claims that mutants are too dangerous to be given equal rights. There are good points to be made from both perspectives. This issue was probably my favorite thing about the movie. In fact, I wish they had done just a little more with that as a central plot point, instead of basically using it as a jumping off point.
The acting in the movie is very good. Hugh Jackman seems born to play Wolverine, which this movie succeeded in turning into a totally cinematic character. I loved the protective relationship he has with Rogue (Anna Paquin). Those two were my favorite characters in the movie. I also really liked the interactions between Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier. The chemistry between the characters and actors was a big plus for this film.
One problem I had with the film was that it seemed like there were too many mutants. Either that or maybe they just didn’t explain what everybody’s powers were well enough. I kept getting a little confused about who could do what. There were several characters that were key in the end that I didn’t feel like I knew all that well. That is a small issue, but it made me think too much about the wrong things rather than focusing on the plot.
The first and third acts of the movie are terrific. The first act is where the mutant debate takes center stage. The third act is full of the good kind of tension and builds to a very entertaining and well-conceived climax. The second act, on the other hand, drags a little bit. It almost seems like the goal was to maintain the status quo rather than actually trying to advance the plot. I think the movie may have needed another conflict or two somewhere in the middle.
Aside from a couple of problems I had with this movie, I thought it was actually a very good comic book film. Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) did a very good job of bringing this wildly popular comic franchise to the big screen. A well-conceived plot and very good acting makes this movie what it is. The Movie Man gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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