Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #27 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. Today we’re gonna talk about the film that in a lot of ways made comic book films the popular genre they are today, I am of course talking about Bryan Singer’s about X-Men.
Ah X-Men, this is one of the films that really helped comic book films become popular again, so it should be awesome right? Well it is good, but not that great. Funnily enough I actually saw this film after X-Men 2, so yeah after the awesome sequel it was kind of lame to go back to the less impressive prequel. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good elements about X-Men, but each time I’ve watched the film since the mid-2000’s it’s gotten worse and worse. So in 2013 has my opinion changed? Read on and find out.
In terms of the plot the film focuses on the mutants Wolverine and Rogue as they are brought into a conflict between two groups that have radically different approaches to bringing about the acceptance of mutant-kind: Professor Xavier’s X-Men, and the Brotherhood of Mutants, led by Magneto.
The story for the most part is pretty interesting. I liked the way it started out with Senator Kelly hating on the mutants and trying to get them to get registered so that they can be separated from humans. We also get to see the differing opinions about how mutants feel towards humans from both the good and bad perspective. Charles Xavier thinks that mutants can coexist with the humans, whereas Magneto, due to his past experiences believes that mutants are superior and need to take the humans out. I like all the conflict between humans and mutants and within the mutant groups themselves. I also love the introduction of Wolverine and Rogue, their characters are treated well along with Xavier and Magneto. However this film presents a lot of problems, since there is a great focus on Wolverine and a few select other mutants, other characters don’t get enough screen time to be relevant or just end up being background people. By the end of the film you really want to see what happens next and luckily even though this film isn’t overly amazing, it sets up the groundwork for some really impressive material in the sequel.
Now let’s talk about the cast. Let’s start with Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine. In this film Wolverine is drifter, he has no home and gets in fights for money because he beaten because of his mutant abilities. However his life changes when he comes into contact with Rogue and eventually the X-Men and from there he has to adjust to his new surroundings and try to decide where he stands when he unintentionally becomes part of this war. Hugh Jackman was nobody before this film came out, but this is the role that made him the popular star he is today. Jackman maybe a bit pretty for the role, but I think he did a great job portraying all of Wolverine’s mannerisms from his powers to his personality traits.
Patrick Stewart also makes for a great Professor Charles Xavier. I love how he is a powerful telepathic mutant who believes that humans can coexistence with mutants, there is a nativity to his thinking but you can’t help but rooting for him especially when some things work out. Sir Patrick Stewart is a fabulous talent and even though there wasn’t too much of him in the film he was still awesome regardless. And there’s Ian McKellen who makes for an awesome Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto.You can see that Eric had a difficult life prior to the present time in the film and due to his past experiences and the growing hatred against mutants from people like Senator Kelly, as Magneto he’s got every right to despise the humans and want them to be taken out. Sir Ian McKellen is one of the finest actors ever and he puts his skills to good use as he is classy, assertive and totally badass as this classic mutant villain.
Then we have Anna Paquin as Marie/Rogue. I liked Paquin in this role, she was a timid character due to her powers and was forced to leave her family after an incident involving her boyfriend at the time. She eventually comes into contact with Wolverine and the two become quite close. I like their relationship, they’re technically friends but I see it more like a father-daughter relationship and that’s wonderfully done. Also Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique was quite impressive. She was Magneto’s loyal second-in-command and due to her ability to transform into anyone she has a lot of freedom to be versatile and do a lot of things. Romijn-Stamos was good in her role even if she didn’t say very much or was that similar to her comic book counterpart. Also Bruce Davison as Senator Robert Kelly was cool, his character was an asshole trying to get mutants exposed and registered under a new act. Davison portrayed his character pretty accurately to what I know from the comics and I thought his character was convincing.
Then you have the people I just can’t stand in this film, so let’s talk about them now. Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey was okay, but I didn’t like how simplified her character was and how even though she was in a relationship with Cyclops was leading Wolverine on. Then we have James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops, my god did his character get butchered. In comics he’s meant be this assertive leader with a great screen presence, but in this film he’s almost silence all of the time, doesn’t really stand out at all and has no epic moments in the film. And then we have Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe/Storm. Oh Storm, YOU ALSO GOT BUTCHERED! Storm is a strong, female character with African heritage and has the ability to control and manipulate the weather, but her character is so simplified and nerfed in this film. Berry has barely that many lines of dialogue, is never really at the forefront of the story and her powers aren’t fully utilized. It hurts me so bad! But the worst offenders come next.
Tyler Mane as Sabretooth. Holy crap this guy sucks, I know he’s meant to be a tiger-like person but when compared to the comics he just terrible. He’s just a big, roaring idiot who has very little dialogue and has a pretty stupid-looking expression on his face most of the time. He is not intimidating or scary, he’s just stupid. And then there’s Ray Park as Toad. Honestly he wouldn’t have been my first choice for a villain in these films, he’s really not that interesting of a character and he seems to get the best of the X-Men even though he doesn’t look that strong at all.
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Honestly the film from a visual standpoint is decent for its time but has ages terribly. This is the point before cool fight choreography had been made and loads of practical effects were in place with not too much CGI applied. Because of those factors there’s a lot of bad-looking wire work here and lame fight scenes and nothing in the action department screams out “awesome!” to me. As for the soundtrack by Michael Kamen its good and has its moments of epicness especially in the sequence on Liberty Island, but otherwise the score is just there and has other bits of music that just sounds strange and irregular.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? Well I’ve not really read that many X-Men comics, my knowledge is from the cartoon shows, online research and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Most of the basic aspects of the comics are kept intact like characters, names and powers. Though a lot of things were simplified or changed or left out completely. Things that didn’t work was Cyclops non-leader role, the changes to Mystique’s character, and the simplification of characters like Storm, Jean Grey and Sabretooth to name a few.
So to conclude X-Men is a pretty good starting point for this film franchise as it establishes the basic elements that makes the comics so captivating like the discrimination against mutants from humans, the whole relationship between Charles and Eric and bringing in Wolverine’s origin story. Everything else is just a bit of mess with some stupid decisions made in relations to characters, action sequences and the comic book source material. In the end its a decent film, but is nowhere near as great as some claim.
Rating: 6.5/10 (It is good, but has many issues that prevent it from being awesome)
So there’s my review people, only 3 more to go. So have you seen X-Men and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!