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Warning: Before reading this node, anyone planning to see the movie X-Men may not want to read this, for it may spoil some of the movie. Reader beware!

While on vacation, I saw the movie "X-Men". Overall, I thought the movie was very good. The visual effects were quite impressive, and the acting was very good. I was also surprised at how much the actors looked like the comic book characters.

The movie, however, lacked a key element: very little truly happens. I don't mean to say that there was no action, because there was. What I mean to say is that very little was achieved by the action that did take place. The arch nemesis plans to turn all of the world's leaders into mutants so that mutants will rule to world. The good guys stop him from doing so (of course) by killing all of the arch nemesis' henchmen. The movie ends with the arch nemesis still alive but locked up in a futuristic jail cell. The X-Men then find out that one of the henchmen actually survived, and that's basically the end. Nothing is really resolved, and there's obvious room for a sequel.

On a scale from 1 to 10, I would have to rate X-Men as a 6 or 7, and the only reason that it is not a 9 or 10 is because of the serious flaw with the plot. I would suggest waiting until the movie is available for rent or cheap seats unless you are a fan of this type of movie, the X-Men, or comic books.

Something I first got wind of seventeen years ago, when I was a rabid fan of the comic. Apparently it took twenty years all told to finally get this thing onto the big screen. My criteria for judging it: would my fifteen-year-old, X-Men-loving self have liked it? Yes.

musicaljon sez, "Nothing is really resolved, and there's obvious room for a sequel." Ah, but this is where the filmmakers were right on the money regarding their source material - nothing is ever really resolved in comic books either, and the next issue is only a month away.

I would have to agree with musicaljon that not a whole lot happened during the movie, but when you try to cram 50 or so comic issues of character building into a 95 minute movie AND have dramatic, earth-shaking events take place, you're probably going to come up lacking.

The problem is that avid X-men fans want to see the real-life interpretations of their favorite comic book characters, so the movie makers HAVE to spend a lot of time bring them all together. Keep in mind that the X-men characters in the movie are necessarily different in a lot of ways from their counterparts in the comics. Fans want to know what versions of the characters they're dealing with, so a LOT of time has to be spent on backstory. After all that, you're left with just enough time to put in a standard X-men adventure formula: Magneto has a gizmo that'll kill everybody, so the X-Men have got to run in, push aside all the racist anti-mutant dogma that's piled up against them, and stop him.

As for problems with the movie: I thought they could've done a lot more with the conflict between Wolverine and Cyclops. Also, it seems like all the characters came ready-made with their comic book names, whereas it would've been much more believeable if, say, it were standard practice at Dr. Xavier's school to pick pseudonyms to protect students' identity for fear of outside attempts to use the school's records to get the names of trained mutants.

Also, it looks to me like Mystique wins. Period. No vulnerabilities?

I don't care for the superhero postures and dialog of the characters in the actual comic books, but I liked this movie because it preserved the theme of moral ambiguity that is the strongest point of the X-Men series.

In most popular comics, the conflict is pretty standard: good (absolute or relative) is pitted against evil (always absolute), and always wins. The aims of the bad guys are always detestable; they want money, or vengeance, or power, or just to satisfy their whims. This holds true for Superman, Batman, and the rest of the DC line, but is also the case for Marvel Comics such as Spider Man, The Fantastic Four, and The Punisher (The bad guys HAVE to be despicable, since he always kills them!). Even the more mature lines such as Mystery Men, Preacher, and Transmetropolitan follow this rule.

The X-Men are an exception, in that there is no absolute philosophy adopted by any of the characters. Bad guys can become good, good people can turn bad. And rather than simply lust for power or money, Magneto's aim (at least in the hands of better writers) is simply a world in which his kind can survive in peace. Indeed, this is the same aim as that the hero, Charles Xavier, and it is only their means to this end that differ. Whereas Xavier strives to promote awareness among his human bretheren as a route to tolerance and peaceful coexistance, Magneto's approach is more cynical; he believes that a ruthless campaign against his enemies will cow the homo sapiens into submission to his rule.

What makes Magneto a villain is his failure to realize that his actions only contribute to a vicious circle: Terrorist acts by the Brotherhood of Mutants galvanizes frightened humans, who retaliate by hurting innocent mutants, which swells the Brotherhood and promotes more Terrorist acts. Magneto's cynical prophecies that humans will never co-exist with mutants only turn out true because they are self-fulfilling.

spoiler follows.

This is where the movie achieves its strongest and most difficult success: Magneto's beliefs could easily be treated as those of a madman, but instead, much like the comic book, they are given a fair and even sympathetic treatment: After Jean Grey fails to win Senator Kelly's sympathies for mutants through reasoned debate on the senate floor, Magneto kidnaps the man and exposes him to mutagenic radiation, turning the senator into a mutant himself. This approach succeeds where kindness and reason fails; as Kelly's body rejects the mutagen and begins to degenerate, he confesses to Storm that he finally understands what it is like to be a mutant.

CapAlert will probably condemn X-Men as a movie that denies God, and promotes worship of false prophets, but my opinion is that this film is probably the most spiritual blockbuster in years: The real battle is not a matchup between the talents of 'good' Wolverine and 'evil' Mystique, but a standoff between the patient faith of Professor X, and the worldly cynicism of Magneto. I hope whoever makes the sequel understands this.

Oh yeah, and lots of stuff gets blown up good, too.
4.5 stars out of 5.

A word or two about the movie

The movie? Uh, turned out to be The Sort Of Movie I Expected. I had not read the X-Men comics; for a total and utter newbie, the movie was still fairly informative and I had a grip of the plot ("like, wow, this has a plot!") nevertheless. Not a bad movie. I didn't expect a masterpiece, but it was a surprisingly positive experience nevertheless. =)

It was actually entertaining. I didn't expect to see so much humor, for example, and the acting was pretty good too, if we consider the general bastardizative tendencies of Hollywood.

A Random Thing I Found Interesting™: Screenplay was written by David Hayter, who did voice acting of Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid.

DVD technical review (Region 2 / Europe)

I have a slightly problematic DVD player; It doesn't like skipping and jumping much. Sometimes, when skipping using menus, the player just halts with "Disc Error" (eject and pop back in and it works just fine).

The menus of X-Men, according to all laws of sadism, jump around a lot. First came the copyright messages. (I just wonder why the heck they put Australia warnings to R2 discs, anyway...) *Jump* Then, Fox logo. *Jump* Camera panning and MovieOS-style things from The Big Round Room Thing. No hurry to get to the main menu, lad, I have all the time in the world. *Jump* Finally, main menu! ... Three jumps and I'm at the main menu. Once, I've ended up to disc error screen before even getting to the menu. Okay, blame me for having a crappy DVD player, but the fact that it takes about a minute to get there, even with a good DVD player, is probably not cool. =)

I mentioned MovieOS before - because the DVD menus reminded me of MovieOSes. The DVD menu designers obviously thought the point of the menu is to give the users pretty camera pans and 3D graphics. Strange, I always thought the point was to select settings and start movie or view extras...

Apart of the menus, the extra features are fairly interesting. The disc has some animated storyboards (cool 3D "sketches" of railroad station scene and Statue of Liberty scene), sketches / drawings of characters, more trailers and TV spots than my head can take, removed scenes (movie can also be played as a branching version) and more.

Anything bad??? Well, it only has English 5.1 soundtrack...

I can agree with most of the comments made about the movie here. Overall I enjoyed movie very much, it was not a great movie but it was well worth watching. There was only one thing in the entire movie that truly annoyed me; we’ll get to that in awhile.

I have been reading the comic since issue X-Men #1, overall the characters as portrayed in the movie are as true to their comic book counterparts as I could expect; with one major exception and a number of minor ones.

Hugh Jackman’s, Wolverine, comes across a little too nice, but otherwise does such a great job that I don’t mind. Jackman had what I consider the best role in the movie and he made the most of it. Jackman’s Wolverine was better than I had hoped.

As for Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier, the role seems underdeveloped, while Stewart is a great actor and I can’t even imagine a better Charles Xavier; the Xavier I know is so much more complex, the movie gives us only the merest hint of who Xavier really is. But at least Xavier’s character as developed in the movie does not contradict that developed in the comics.

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique has the best female role in the movie, despite Anna Paquin having more on screen time. Mystique is the strongest female character in the X-Men movie, and I think the best actress as well, though that hard to be sure of considering much of her on screen time was special effects.

Anna Paquin’s, Rogue was indecisive, and weak. This is in character considering that this is a very young Rogue, one who has yet to acquire, Carroll Danver’s powers, of super strength, invulnerability, and flight. In the comics Rogue began as a villain, a member of Mystique's Freedom Force. Overwhelmed by Ms. Marvel mind and powers she comes to the X-Men for help. This backstory is not even hinted at in the movie dispite Mystique also being in the movie.

Famke Jackson does a good job as Jean Grey, but again I would have liked her character to be more fully developed.

Halle Berry’s Storm, of all the female characters is the worst developed. She gets what is arguably the worst line in the movie, and comes across as a bad actress. What really bothers me about this is that I know she is a good actress, almost a great one, she has proved this in other roles and other movies. I’ll give her that she looks the part; Storm has always struck me as being incredibly regal and beautiful, and Halle Berry as Storm has no problem being beautiful.

Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, well he nailed the character, the special effects of his abilities were great. The only thing missing was the raw physical power that Magneto radiates. Sir Ian is simply too physically frail to play Magneto as imaged in the comics. Not a big deal.

Tyler Mane's portral of Sabretooth is the main thing that annoyed me about the movie; the best I can say is that he looks the part. Sabretooth in the comics is the worst homicidal manic you can imagine, he makes Wolverine look like a Sunday school preacher. This guy was a wimp. Sabretooth is a homicidal manic, a smart, mean, wiseass of a homicidal manic; or as Devon Hart says in his Wolverine writeup "Creed is a full-bore, mushroom-cloud-layin' sociopath with zero regard for human life". In the movie Magneto asks Sabretooth to stand guard over him while he is helpless, no way anyone in their right mind would ask that of the real Sabertooth unless they wanted to be gutted on the spot.

It has been over twenty years since X-Men The Movie was released. I remember seeing it at the time and being impressed. Not blown away, but impressed. Perhaps my memory has been altered in the past few decades, but in general, I remember thinking at the time that something had substantially changed. Something that had formed a part of my childhood was now an important part of popular culture. It might be hard to remember, but at the time, comic books were still fringe pop culture for nerds and children, not big business.

So rather than talk about the contents of the movie, I am going to make a statement that might be oversimplified and that some people might not totally agree with, but that most people reading this will think is a reasonable statement: this movie was the beginning of the modern comic book movie, and all of the success of the major superhero films, based on Marvel and DC characters, stem from the success of this movie.

There had been comic book movies before, going back to World War II, including ones with the Marvel Comics character Captain America. Superman: The Movie, released in 1978, was a big budget movie that was released to critical and commercial success, and spawned a mini-franchise. The 1989 Batman movie was also a critical and commercial success, and had actors like Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in it, and also spawned a series of sequels. Marvel Comics also had the Blade movie, which was also commercially successful and had sequels. There were television shows, as well. Taking comic book characters and making movies out of them was not a new idea.

But for whatever reason, this movie was the turning point from super-hero movies being a niche and sporadic thing, often done with low budgets and with camp appeal, to the genre being a regular source of blockbusters, many of which are considered to have artistic merits. It would be a few more years until the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked into gear, but this film was the turning point.

And it is difficult to say exactly why that was. The X-Men movie did have a certain gravitas to it, starring such actors as Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. It also was a step-up in special effects and artistic design. Nothing in it looked like the rubber suit characters of many previous movies or television shows. It wasn't perfect, there was some bad dialogue and I imagine the special effects haven't all aged well, but in general it was a well-produced package that was true to the source material, but accessible to outsiders. And that is why, twenty years later, whatever the specific merits or faults of the movie, it was the watershed moment in the formation of what is now one of the main genres of commercial movies.

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