Having never read the X-Men comics, I can't say whether this movie was faithful to the comic, but as a movie, I thought it turned out to be pretty good. Unlike other recent comic/film crossovers like Mystery Men or Spawn, this latest foray into turning a popular comic into a movie had a nice balance between being an action movie and being a comic book movie.
Taking place in the not so distant future, the movie follows the exploits of a group of mutants known as the X-Men. Mutants are people who have evolved over time and have special powers. One group of mutants, the X-Men, led by Professor X (Patrick Stewart), believe that they can co-exist with the human race. Another group of mutants, led by Magneto (Ian McKellen) believes that a war between humans and mutants is imminent. He has an evil plan to rid the Earth of humans, and let the mutants dominate the world. It is up to the X-Men to stop him. Along with Professor X, who has the ability to read and control peoples minds, there is Dr. Jean Grey, who has telekintic powers; Storm, who has the power to control the weather; and Cyclops, a man who has the power of energy in his eyes. On the side of Magneto, who has the power of magnetism, there is the barbarian Sabertooth; Toad, a man with, well, a large tongue and the ability to hop really far; and Mystique, who has the power to shape-shift into anyone. We also meet Rogue, a girl who takes the energy of any person who touches her skin, and Wolverine, a man with amazing regenerative powers, and claws that come out of his hands. Professor X believes that Magneto wants to kidnap Wolverine, but can't figure out why. But he soon realizes that it's not Wolverine that Magneto wants, it's Rogue that Magneto needs, in order to carry out his plan to rid the Earth of the humans.
Like I said earlier, the movie has a nice balance between being too cartoony, and being a solid action film. Obviously this is no ordinary group of people, so making it into a regular action movie wouldn't work. And if it's too cartoonish, you end up making a movie that seems really cheesy. So I applaud Bryan Singer on his ability to mesh both worlds. I found the story to be simple, but I think that was necessary. This movie is more about the characters than the story. For those of us un-initiated in the ways of the X-Men, it was a good way to get to know who these people were, and what they could do, rather than throw them into a convoluted story line that would have had to make you think and not pay attention to the heart of the people on screen. I had heard of Wolverine before, but I really didn't know much about any of the other characters, so it was nice to get a little background on them, and see what powers they had, and not have to be worried about some strange plot that would take away from the movie.
I thought the special effects were good, but that is the one thing I was expecting from this movie. I'll be honest, based on the previews, I didn't really think I was going to like this movie. I thought that the special effects would be good, that there would be some cool hard-core type music, but that's it. What I found was a movie with characters I cared for, and music that was actually kept to a minimum. Generally I find that in these types of movies, whenever there is a big fight scene, or something cool happening, there is always loud music punctuating the scene. Here I found a few scenes where there was silence in the background, which actually punctuated the scene more than any piece of music could. I thought the sets were nice, especially the giant room that Professor X used to try and track down mutants. And I thought the actors did a good job with the characters. I had my doubts about Hugh Jackman playing the brooding Wolverine, but he won me over with his performance.
So overall I thought X-Men was a pretty good movie. Not as good as the original Batman, but a whole lot better than most, if not all, of the other comic book movies made in the last 10 years. It had a lot of cool scenes, very cool characters, great special effects, and some good fight scenes. It kept a very even tone throughout, not too serious, not too funny, and the story was there to help the audience get to know the characters, so that we will all go back and see the inevitable sequels in the years to come.
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