We are the future, Charles, not them. They no longer matter.
Stars: Stuff Blowed Up::
X-Men has always been a bit smarter than most other superhero comic books. The characters are more human, and fight among themselves almost as much as they fight the bad guys. The movie is true to this tradition, giving us the most human superheroes to grace the screen since The Crow.
The human race is entering the next stage of evolution, and mutants with different super powers are being born all over the world. The rest of the human population is alarmed and scared, and are attempting to identify all the mutants though a registration program. Mutants have banded together in two groups. The good guys, lead by Xaviar (played superbly by Patrick Stewart) have taken on the task of protecting the humans from the bad guys, who are lead by Magneto. Magneto believes that plain vanilla humans are unimportant. He foresees a war coming between humans and mutants, and he intends to win it. Given his past (he discovered his power to control metal objects as a child in a Nazi concentration camp) and the way humans are now reacting to his kind, it's not hard to empathize with his point of view.
The story focuses on Wolverine and Rogue, two of the most interesting characters in the X-men lineup. Wolverine has regenerative powers - his wounds heal while you watch - and his skeleton has been augmented with a skeleton of a miraculous, indestructible metal. He has no idea who did the surgery, which includes triple blades that shoot out of the back of his hands whenever he needs to fight off bad guys. Anyone touching Rogue has the life force sucked out of them, which interferes with her love life and makes the whole "good touch, bad touch" thing moot. Along with Storm (Halie Berry) who controls the weather, Cyclops, who shoots lasers out of his eyes, and Jean, who is telekinetic, they fight Magneto and his band of superpower bad guys (including a foxy morphing Mystique, played by Rebacca Romijn-Stamos).
The movie treats it's audience with respect. In an early scene a fight rages on while Wolverine's truck catches fire. We're shown a brief glimpse of a propane tank in the flames, just once, and then we're back to the fight which continues until everything blows up. Most movies would have shown the tank again and again and again just to make sure you got the point. X-Men assumes you're smarter than that.
With big heroes and big sets and big fights and big explosions, X-Men manages to be thought provoking and entertaining at the same time. Most of the acting is excellent, the story is as good as comic book stories get, the plot holes are minimal, and the effects, as expected, are very well done. The structure of the X-Men story should provide an endless source of sequels. That's usually a bad thing, but this time, we can look forward to them.
© 2001 Dave Hitt