3 StarsMarvel’s current cinema domination can be traced back to X-Men, the Bryan Singer directed film that started off the longest running franchise in superhero history. This serious-minded film is ripe with good actors delivering intelligent dialogue, surrounded by captivating production design all while slyly referencing racial,sexual and other forms of discrimination. This inaugural entry into the X-Men cannon is flawed and feels overly expository, but remains entertaining and full of compelling characters to warrant a positive recommendation.
Rogue is a small-town girl who discovers that her touch can kill anyone who comes into physical contact. After nearly suffocating her boyfriend from their first kiss, Rogue sets off to the furthest reaches of Canada, where she meets fellow ‘mutant’ Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) at a truck side road-stop. She recognizes the common bond between the two and stows away in the back of his camper. Before Wolverine can condemn the girl, the pair are attacked by a marauding bad of evil mutants working under the order of Magneto (Ian McKellan). The ambush is interrupted by the appearance of Cyclops (James Marsden) and Storm (Halle Berry) members of the X-Men group, formed under the leadership of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart).
Xavier takes Wolverine and Rogue into his special school for youngster, a prep academy for mutants with great abilities. A political war is brewing over the proposed mandatory registration of all mutants to the government for policing and experimentation. Shades of Auschwitz and Topaz abound and Magneto is intent on stopping the humans and proving who the dominate race truly is. By kidnapping a prominent Senator (Bruce Davidson) and turning him into a mutated creature, Magneto and his brood have set-off a chain of events that could lead to civil war.
Meanwhile Wolverine is learning to control his aggression with the help of Xavier, but also falling in love with Dr. Jean Gray (Famke Janssen) and battling Cyclops for her affection. The action set-pieces in a train station and atop the Statue of Liberty are fun and liven the movie up, when the dramatic elements threaten to overtake the mood.
This inaugural entry into the melancholy world of Stan Lee’s X-Men universe is just captivating enough to warrant interest in a follow-up. If there is a major flaw with the film, it is that the movie seems to be a warm-up, an introductory course in establishing back-story and conflicts that would be revisited in subsequent installments.
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen