Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:40 - Released 7/14/00
For anyone who enjoys comic book superheroes, Bryan Singer's X-Men is just the ticket. This entertaining and reasonably intelligent film, penned by Singer, Tom DeSanto and David Hayter, and based on the 30-odd-year-old Marvel comic book series, involves the futuristic world of mutants, people for whom evolution has taken a "leap forward." Thanks to genetic mutations, a segment of Earth's population is endowed with superhuman traits or powers, such as mind reading, being able to change the weather, or being really, really good at checkers.
The story involves the inevitable conflict between these mutants
and the rest of society, namely the poor old regular humans who
are afraid and/or suspicious of them. But who cares about the
story? What's fun is talking about what all these guys can do:
Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), leader of the good-guy mutant
society, or "X-Men," can read minds and control others.
So can Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), but not as well. "Cyclops"
(James Marsden) can fire devastating lasers out of his eyes, but
has a volume control in case he just wants to shoot beer cans
off a fence or something, and "Storm" (Halle Berry),
can, as her name implies, whip up weather patterns that would
make George Clooney cringe. Collectively, these folks all wear
cool uniforms and use their powers only for good.
Into this world comes "Wolverine" (Hugh Jackman)
and "Rogue" (Anna Paquin), two mutants who have run
away from their loved ones. Wolverine's talents are threefold:
he's got huge, pointy metal talons that extend from his fists
when he is attacked, and regenerative powers that allow
him to heal instantly from just about any injury, and he
also can smell bad guys. Apparently, his olfactory ability doesn't
activate when he's around friends, because he never says anything
like, "Gee, your hair smells terrific" or "Did
you just eat a bag of Doritos?" Rogue's power is that she
draws the life energy (I believe the technical term is "mojo")
from anyone with whom she shares skin-on-skin contact. Let's just
hope she's not allergic to latex, if you get my drift.
But not all mutants are good. Currently trying to take over
the world is super-baddie "Magneto" (Ian McKellen),
an old friend/enemy of Dr. X., who can create magnetic fields
and bend metal. In his employ is "Mystique" (Rebecca
Romijn-Stamos), a curvaceous shape-shifter who can look and sound
like anyone, including all of the above; "Toad" (Ray
Park, a.k.a. Darth Maul of The
Phantom Menace), who can jump around and catch flies with
his tongue well, they can't all be great and "Sabretooth"
(pro wrestler Tyler Mane), who growls a lot and beats people up.
Not much of a stretch for him. So we get to watch all these freaks
battle it out, and the result of the battle could doom or save
mankind.There's also a subplot about a visciously anti-mutant
senator (Bruce Davison) who is taught not to judge people until
he has walked a mile in their mutated moccasins.
As one would expect, X-Men is full of cool make-up and dazzling sci-fi effects (some borrowed from Contact), but it is intelligent enough to be of interest to more than just the comic-book mentality. Stewart is ever the elder statesman; his character is not unlike Captain Picard, but it fits. Paquin and Jackman are convincing in their roles, and British acting veteran McKellen (soon to be seen as Gandalf in the upcoming Lord Of The Rings series) is suitably diabolical. All I want to know now is where I can get a Mystique suit for my wife before Halloween. ****
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