Please feel free to comment on my review.
The ‘X-Men’ Mutation Evolution Begins
Here we are at the beginning of a very inconsistent Marvel superhero movie series! 😀
Over the years, the X-Men have been a popular set of Marvel superheroes that started in the comics; had their own TV show and had their own movie series by 20th Century Fox! I can’t claim to be an X-Men expert since I’m more a Spider-Man expert and I have a more personal investment with him.
But I have enjoyed what I’ve seen of the X-Men as a characters and how their movies have progressed over the years since 2000. The progression of the ‘X-Men’ films has been inconsistent, but let’s not worry about that for now. Let’s talk about how the ‘X-Men’ film series humbly began. 🙂
The first ‘X-Men’ film was released in 2000, featuring the likes of Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ray Park and Anna Paquin. The film was directed by Bryan Singer. He would direct a few more of these. 🙂
I came in rather later in the ‘X-Men’ film series, so I didn’t see the first ‘X-Men’ film when it came out at cinemas in 2000. The first time I saw this film was in 2005. I saw it in its 2-disc ‘X-Men 1.5’ DVD set alongside the 2-disc set of ‘X-Men 2’ in a double pack. I did enjoy the first ‘X-Men’ film when I saw it.
The X-Men are original comic book characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and they were first introduced in ‘The X-Men’ #1 in September 1963. I can’t claim to know a lot about the ‘X-Men’ comics and I know the filmmakers took some liberties in adapting the comics into the first film itself.
Judging from the first film, it was entertaining and engaging to watch. I didn’t know how faithful an adaptation the first film was in terms of what characters they included since there are so many ‘X-Men’ characters from the comics. But the themes about overcoming prejudice and racism are there.
For the first ‘X-Men’ film, the story looks into the disparagement between human and mutant-kind. There are those who don’t want humanity to coexist with mutants. Thus a conflict ensues between two groups that have their different approaches in bringing about the acceptance of mutant-kind. 😐
There’s Professor Xavier who wants peace between humanity and mutant-kind. And there’s Magneto who is convinced that a war will ensue between humanity and mutant-kind. Xavier runs his private school for mutants as well as the X-Men, whilst Magneto has his Brotherhood of Mutants. 😐
Two mutants – Wolverine and Rogue – get caught up in the conflict between the two groups: the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. They have to decide whether they want to learn how to survive to be accepted amongst human-kind or whether they wish to eradicate humanity altogether.
I like the themes featured in this ‘X-Men’ movie, especially when it tackles prejudice and racism and how to overcome it. In many ways, it reflects how our modern society can be, since we aren’t any better than when we were. There is still disparagement from those being prejudiced against people.
I like the formation of the X-Men team by Xavier and how there’s a school for the gifted run by him. There are echoes of that in the Disney superhero film ‘Sky High’, though that film takes its cue from ‘X-Men’ and ‘Harry Potter’. Mind you, there are like four main X-Men that we see in this certain film. 😐
There’s Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey and Wolverine, who joins the team when they go out to save Rogue who’s been kidnapped by Magneto. Magneto leads his Brotherhood of Mutants, which include Mystique, Sabretooth and Toad. More X-Men characters would be introduced for later films.
There is a dark, serious tone featured throughout the first ‘X-Men’ film, especially when our hero characters suit up in black leather as opposed to say something like ‘yellow spandex’ featured in the comics and the cartoon show. It’s a very intriguing creative choice in terms of presenting the X-Men.
Patrick Stewart stars as Professor Charles Xavier in the film. Before seeing the ‘X-Men’ films, Patrick Stewart, for me, played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. I enjoyed his performance as Xavier in the first ‘X-Men’ film as he convinced me he was the leader of the X-Men.
Xavier’s mutant power is the ability to read minds and control them. He’s bound to a wheelchair but has a great intellectual mind. Xavier uses his Cerebro supercomputer in order to access the minds of everyone when he’s trying to search for Rogue. Unfortunately, he’s knocked out by the end of the second act. 😦
Hugh Jackman stars as Logan a.k.a. Wolverine in the film. Wolverine is what Hugh Jackman is best well-known for in terms of movies. He comes across as perfect-casting for the character, since he’s a roughened man who wields three metallic claws in his hands and has this accelerated healing factor.
Quite often, Logan spends time with Rogue when she’s confused and afraid about being who she is as a mutant. There’s a sweet connection between the two when they develop as characters. Logan seems romantically interested in Jean Grey and there’s clearly a rivalry between him and Cyclops. 😀
Ian McKellen stars as Magneto (also known as Erik Lehnsherr when Charles Xavier meets up with him). For me, Ian McKellen is well-known for playing Gandalf in ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film trilogies. I enjoyed his performance as Magneto and it’s a change to him see as a villain. 🙂
Magneto has the power to generate powerful magnetic fields and control metal. He and Xavier were friends once and they almost seem brother-like in certain respects. But Magneto’s ideals for human-mutant coexistence are so different compared to how Xavier wants both to coexist with each other.
Halle Berry (who would later play Catwoman in that 2004 film she did) stars as Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm in the film. Storm has the ability to control the weather and create lightning storms. She’s a nice enough character, though she’s not happy when certain humans have hatred towards mutants.
I liked that scene she had with Senator Kelly before he dies where she shares why she sometimes hates humans since she’s afraid of them. Storm can be impressive with her powers, especially when using wind and lightning to tackle Toad as well as tackle Sabretooth in two certain scenes of the film.
Famke Janssen stars as Jean Grey in the film. Before ‘X-Men’, Famke Janssen worked with Patrick Stewart in the ‘Star Trek: TNG’ episode called ‘The Perfect Mate’. She looks different here compared to when she was in her ‘TNG’ episode, but she still does come across as lovely in her performance. 🙂
Jean Grey is a medical doctor at the X-Mansion and she’s also Cyclops’ fiancée. Her powers include being telekinetic and have some telepathy but not to the same extent as Xavier. When Xavier is out of the picture for a while, Jean Grey uses Cerebro to track down where Magneto is but suffers for it.
James Marsden stars as Scott Summers/Cyclops, who is Xavier’s second-in-command and the X-Men’s field leader. He has the mutant ability to fire red beams of optic energy from his eyes, which can be held in check by sunglasses or a specialized visor. His powers can hurt his eyes without them.
Who knew James Marsden would go on to be in films like ‘Superman Returns’, ‘Hop’ and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ after doing the ‘X-Men’ films? 😀 James Marsden is more subdued in his performance as Cyclops compared to future roles. Cyclops does not like it when Logan takes an interest in Jean Grey.
Bruce Davison stars as Senator Kelly, an anti-mutant politician who wants mutant-kind to be rejected altogether. I’ve seen Bruce Davison before in a film called ‘Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog’ many years ago. I enjoyed his performance as Senator Kelly, but it does not end well for Kelly. 😦
In the film, Kelly gets kidnapped by Magneto’s gang who use him in a test for Magneto’s mutation machine to change humanity into mutants. Unfortunately the process fails on Kelly as his body turns into a liquid-like substance where he ends up dead. The death scene for Kelly is horrible to watch. 😀
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos stars as Mystique, a blue-skinned mutant that can shapeshift to become anyone and mimic any human being. She’s Magneto loyal second-in-command in the Brotherhood of Mutants – though shouldn’t she be a sister as opposed to a brother when she’s in the Brotherhood?
Mystique is a pretty fierce and ruthless fighter when knocking people out like Senator Kelly in a helicopter. She also manages to get inside the X-Mansion where she sabotages Cerebro. She also has a fight with Wolverine in the film’s climax where she disguises as him before getting stabbed by him.
Ray Park stars as Toad, a very agile and very disgusting mutant henchman of Magneto in the Brotherhood of Mutants. Ray played Darth Maul in ‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’ and later in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’. Toad comes across as gleefully evil amongst Magneto’s gang. 😐
His powers include having a long tongue like a toad and the ability to spit slimy substances onto people. He does this to Jean Grey when fighting her in the film’s climax. He also manages to get Cyclops’ visor off his eyes with his tongue, causing him pain. Thankfully Toad gets his comeuppance.
Tyler Mane stars as Sabretooth, a brutal and sadistic mercenary who has mutant powers akin to a ferocious feline-like nature including a lion or a tiger. He works for Magneto and has enhanced animal-like senses, fang and healing abilities which seem to be similar to Wolverine’s healing ability.
This is a sense of a rivalry between Sabretooth and Wolverine, which I think is more prominent in the comics and the TV show compared to this film. Very often, Sabretooth doesn’t say much and when he does say something, it’s a few words. Sabretooth also receives his comeuppance in this film.
Anna Paquin stars as Rogue/Marie, a 17-year-old girl who leaves her home of Mississippi once she puts her boyfriend into a coma by kissing him. She has the ability to absorb people’s life-force, their memories and in the case of mutants, their powers. She’s a troubled individual that Logan befriends.
I’ve heard the movie interpretation of Rogue doesn’t match to what’s in the comics as well as the TV show. I didn’t know this at the time and I was judging by how the film stood on its own compared to being a comic book adaptation. I think Anna Paquin’s performance and the characterisation is fine. 🙂
The cast also includes Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake/Iceman who takes a liking to Rogue in the film. There are also cameo appearances of Sumela Kay as Kitty Pryde, Katrina Florece as Jubilee, Donald MacKinnon as Colossus and Alexander Burton as Pryo. There’s also a cameo of Stan Lee in this film. 🙂
The film is reasonably well-directed by Bryan Singer. This was the first time I came across a Bryan Singer-directed film and I found his directing style intriguing, especially in terms of how character development was set up and how action scenes were portrayed. He makes a good impression here!
I like the set-ups of locations and places in the film, including the well-lit and often soothing atmosphere of the X-Mansion, both upstairs with the school and downstairs with the X-Men tech. The brooding atmosphere for the Brotherhood of Mutants’ base led by Magneto is also effective. 😀
As I indicated, the action sequences are decently effective and there’s a decent balance of stunt chorography and visual effects. This is especially in terms of the film’s climax at the Statue of Liberty in New York where the X-Men are fighting Magneto in his plans and are saving Rogue in the process.
The X-Men also have their own mode of transport for getting to places – the Blackbird. I admit it is cool that the X-Men get to have a jet that they can fly around in, especially when they’re defeating Magneto and his goons. Mind you, we don’t get to see enough of the Blackbird’s interior in the film. 😐
On the original ‘X-Men’ DVD release, the DVD special features are as follows. There’s an extended branching version of the film which includes deleted scenes; an interview with director Bryan Singer conducted by Charlie Rose; theatrical trailers and TV spots; an ‘X-Men’ music soundtrack promo; the Fox Special called ‘The Mutant Watch’; an ‘X-Men’ featurette; Hugh Jackman’s screen test; animatics; an art gallery and Easter Eggs.
On the ‘X-Men 1.5’ 2-disc DVD release, the DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s the enhanced viewing mode which contains deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes. On Disc 2, there’s an introduction by director Bryan Singer; ‘The Uncanny Suspects’ pre-production featurette; ‘X-Factor: The Look of the X-Men’ costume featurette; ‘The Special Effects of the X-Men’ visual effects featurette; animatic-to-film comparisons; the ‘Reflection of the X-Men’ retrospective featurette; exclusive movie premiere footage from Ellis Island and around the world; multi-angle scene studies; still photo galleries including character concept art, hardware, locations, Magneto and Xavier’s school; theatrical trailers; TV spots; web interstitials; an ‘X-Men 2’ sneak preview and a ‘Daredevil’ teaser trailer.
The first ‘X-Men’ film is an enjoyable beginning to what is arguably a fascinating Marvel superhero movie series. I like how the X-Men are set up as characters with Professor Xavier leading the fight for peace whilst Magneto stirs things up to cause a potential war between humankind and mutant-kind.
I enjoyed the performances of the actors playing characters, including Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. I can’t say I was enamoured with this film when I first saw it as it didn’t make me an instant X-Men fan. But I was intrigued how the film series would continue and what exciting things were to come. 🙂
‘X-Men’ rating – 8/10
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