The first installment of the successful movie franchise based on the Marvel comics begins with two mutants, Rogue and Wolverine, finding their way to Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters with a war between humans and mutants lingering on the horizon.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Although it's been rendered almost quaint by subsequent blockbusters, when "X-Men" first hit theaters it was something of a revelation. Only three years removed from the campy shlock of Schumacher, Bryan Singer and his DP Newton Thomas Sigel ("Drive") chose to approach the material as science fiction allegory, bathing the film in inky shadows and deep blues, and as a result sold audiences on the reality of its world.
A somewhat weak adaptation saved by good casting of Ian McKellan and Hugh Jackman marked a half decent start to the series. Seemed unfilmable when first announced and was a pleasant surprise year of release. Rewatching now really doesn't stand up in today's advanced cgi world. Singer's promise of public access and usual suspects was already fading away by this point.
X-Men are one of the few superhero sagas that I manage to watch, probably because I started watching the films as a kid. This first take has its cheesy moments, no doubt: from Storm’s outfits (and Halle Berry’s acting skills) to Cyclops’ glasses, and the whole speech about hope and so on. However it’s fairly entertaining, with some cool scenes, and Magneto, Jean Grey and Mystique make it work.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars. X-Men isn't exactly the best comic movie ever and doesn't quite hold up but its not a bad start to the series, especially when you stop to consider this is the movie that broke the seal for the subsequent tidal wave of comic book movies. Either amazing (Stewart, Jackman, McKellan) or awful casting (Berry, Janssen) with decent direction and setup for other movies in the series.
Watching this I realised that Days of Future Past was much more complex and interesting. This one is very literal, offering only one reading, and demanding no reflection from the spectator, nor creating much anticipation. The dialogues about hope are so unmoving that one can really appreciate how touching they are in Days of Future Past.
Best stuff in any of these movies is the Rogue/Wolverine road trip. The scenes actually breathe; the characters speak as if human. If the whole movie was those two picking their way across a hostile continent sans any of the other bullshit I'd be over the moon. Although I could really do with seeing a grown-ass Rogue in an X-movie.