X-Men (2000) June 27, 2009Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
Tags: Bryan Singer, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, X-Men
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2009
It took almost three decades for Hollywood to find what appears to be the winning formula for summer blockbusters – adaptations of popular comic books. Last decades were, ironically, time when comic book industry in the world was affected by crisis. However, many popular comic book titles and, more importantly, characters appear to be rejuvenated by their new, spectacular and in most cases financially successful film incarnations. Although attempts to create great movie franchises out of great comic book serials could end disappointingly, it looks like there are more hits than misses in such endeavours. One of the hits was X-MEN, 2000 film directed by Bryan Singer, which spawned three sequels.
The film is based on THE X-MEN, immensely popular comic book series created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The protagonists are mutant humans who are endowed with superhero powers. The plot begins in near future when the rest of humanity became aware of super-human mutants living within their societies. Most people aren’t comfortable after such discovery, and one of the politicians to exploit such sentiment is US senator Robert Kelly (played by Robert Davison) who lobbies for “Mutant Registration Act” which would allow authorities to control mutants. For Magneto (played by Ian McKellen), mutant who survived Holocaust as a child, this looks too much like beginning of a similar event, so he decides to start war between mutants and ordinary humans. Magneto’s friend Professor Xavier (played by Patrick Stewart) is also a mutant, but he believes in peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants and teaches young mutants to blend into human society. Their disagreements will escalate into open conflict when Magneto tries to artificially create mutations among humans during UN conference dedicated to mutant problem. Both sides are joined by various mutants who would use their powers against each other in spectacular fashion.
Probably the most important factor in a success of X-MEN was choice of director. Bryan Singer was not only great fan of the comic books, but also had reputation of talented, innovative filmmaker who can handle ensemble cast. And this is exactly what movie version of X-MEN needed. The franchise features many superhero protagonists instead of one; introducing them to non-fan audience in a single feature film was difficult task. Singer accomplished that task relatively well, especially considering 105 minutes of running time, rather short for this kind of films. The film also has the right amount of darker tones in the plot and the characterisation of chief villain is very effective; it takes some time for audience to actually realise that Magnetto is a bad guy. Whenever McKellen appears in the film, X-MEN looks like a serious film that deals with issues of tolerance rather than typical Hollywood summer attraction.
On the other hand, Singer has some problems in trying to reconcile seriousness of the subject with the action scenes. Many of them look attractive, but some look like they haven’t got any purpose other than display budget spent for special effects. One of such examples is Magnetto’s mutation-creating machine. The film also looks somewhat unfinished, although it should be noted that it was very likely that the sequels would be made, thus allowing for characters and plots to be developed further. Good direction and talented ensemble cast are the reason not only for this film to suceed in spawning sequels, but also for viewers to have good time watching it, regardless whether they are fans of X-MEN or not.