Reviewed by Galen Strickland
X-Men is one of the best comic-to-film adaptations I have ever seen. Unlike so many of the others (Superman, Batman, etc) this one takes itself very seriously. [Please note that was written in 2000 shortly after this film premiered, long before Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and the flood of Marvel movies.] I have never been a big comics fan and am only vaguely familiar with the X-Men storylines and characters (primarily from the animated series, which I watched with my son in the 90s), but I think it likely this film will satisfy both long-time fans as well as others. Like all good science fiction, the story takes one basic premise and extrapolates the ramifications of the changes to society and to individuals. The best character is Wolverine, played with brooding intensity by Hugh Jackman, and other standouts are Ian McKellen as Magneto and Anna Paquin as Rogue. I would like to say the same for Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, but unfortunately his character was not explored in as much depth as some of the others. I would hope that will be corrected in the inevitable sequel(s). The effects are excellent as well, which is surprising considering the production was rushed into release six months ahead of its original schedule.
After seeing this film a second time I was thinking it was a shame they didn't begin the story earlier, such as with the first meeting of Charles and Eric (Professor X and Magneto), or at least with the creation of Professor X's school for mutants. I suppose a subsequent film might be a prequel or perhaps contain flashbacks to the times when mutants first became aware of their powers. Also on second viewing, I had a better appreciation of Stewart's portrayal of Xavier. Perhaps before I had trouble disassociating him from Jean-Luc Picard. I was struck with the powerful and charismatic impact he had made on the X-men, and how quickly Wolverine was able to appreciate his good intentions. But then again, I wondered how much that might be a result of Xavier's ability to control others' thoughts and actions. The groundwork has been laid for what should be a very satisfying and successful series of films.
I give X-Men ***1/2 out of 5.
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