Comic books have been around for hundreds of years in some form or another, but only a few have achieved the greatness and respect of The X-Men. Superman and Batman have had franchises and have now run their course, but Marvel Comics has not been able to break into the mainstream medium... until now.
X-Men comes to life on the big screen with the characters, the stories, and the politics that have kept this comic going for so long. It accomplishes what several comic book movies have not - to present a story without delving into the cheesiness that some directors feel are important (Batman and Robin and Steel, for example). In fact, X-Men is a pretty serious movie from beginning to end, although it does throw in some good lines from here to there.
The main characters - Charles Xavier, Storm, Rogue, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine - are all here, and their stories have been left pretty much intact. The movie follows Wolverine especially into the lives of the X-Men, but also hints at the government testing that was experimented on his body (do I see a sequel in the future?). Rogue starts out as an innocent girl who realizes that she has the most horrible gift of all. Cyclops and Jean Grey are married but Wolverine is in love with Jean Grey. Storm is... Storm. The only character left really undeveloped is Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). His relationship to Magneto (Ian McKellen) is made pretty clear but his political presence is nothing compared to what he is in the comic book.
The politics are there, too, although not as strong as I would have liked them to be. In the beginning Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) is pretty avid about stopping mutants, but the movie avoids it after that. It would have been nice to see the public's reaction to the mutants, perhaps including hate crimes and things like that. Of course, that can wait until the next movie.
As for action, X-Men varies. In some respects, it has some pretty cool action; in the other, it might need more. There is a long period of time where Rogue and Wolverine are just discovering the school, and Xavier is trying to figure out what Magneto is going to do and why he needs Wolverine. This would have been a good time to throw in some hate crimes. However, once the action gets going, it gets going. Wolverine and Mystique especially get some action. Cyclops gets a good deal, Storm gets a decent amount, Jean Grey gets pretty meager amounts, and Rogue, though being essential to the story, doesn't get to use her stuff to fight evil very much.
As mentioned earlier, the movie is pretty serious, but at the same time, it has a lot of comical and clever lines. Some of the lines people that are not fans of the comic book will not understand, but there is still a good deal of good dialogue. Overall, the script is pretty stable...
... but the plot leaves little to be desired for. Magneto, fearing human retaliation, is planning to wipe out all of humanity by setting off a "bomb" in New York City. That's about all the plot is. But, I guess, it gets the point across.
The only other disappointment is that this movie is about a half hour too short. It is only a little over an hour and a half, and this movie could have been a lot better if, in that left out half hour, there could have been more action, more politics, and a deeper look into Wolverine's past.
Of course, fans of the comic will enjoy the movie than non-fans, but even someone who has not read the comics will enjoy the film. The characters are easy to relate with and the villains are easy to hate. X-Men is an entertaining if not a little too short movie, and from the reaction of the rest of the audience, other people agree with me. Everyone was laughing, cheering, and clapping, and so will you if you watch the film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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