X-Men (2000)

x-men

“Sabertooth? Storm. What do they call you? ‘Wheels’? This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

The Scoop: 2000 PG-13, Directed by Bryan Singer and starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen

Tagline: Join the Evolution

Summary Capsule: Overpowered genetic anomalies follow Captain Picard on a romp around New York City!

Justin’s rating: I choose you, Wolverku!

Justin’s review: I always wanted to be a mutant. Fortunately, in 1997 the Mutant Reviewers was founded and I got my opportunity. Unfortunately, I’m not the type of mutant with superpowers, unless you count my uncontrollable back hair.

As a kid, I always loved the X-Men comic books (and cartoon), because the idea of having a superpower was, y’know, cool. And X-Men provided quite a variety of powers to pick from: shooting laser blasts from your eyes, walking through walls, controlling the weather, climbing on ceilings, telekenisis, telepathy, and delivering pizza in 30 minutes or less. I was quite concerned that this big-budget realization of Stan Lee’s comics. Happily, this is one of the best transitions between comic book and movie that I’ve ever seen.

So how does one explain the entire mythos of X-Men in a few sentences? Basically, you have this goofy mutant gene that causes a small percentage of the population to gain various superpowers. Because mutants have become the newest minority group, they face persecution from the normal population. Thus, the mutants fall into two camps: Professor Xavier’s X-Men (the good guys) and Magnito’s Brotherhood of Mutants (the anti-good guys). The movie’s transition character to get us adapted to this world is Logan, aka Wolverine, a mutant endowed with healing powers and also a set of Swiss army knives in his hand. A lot of fighting ensues along with snappy quotes and sexy outfits. Justin likes this new Rogue character, but since a single kiss from her would throw me into a coma, she’d only be a bit better than my previous girlfriend.

What makes X-Men better than other comic book adaptions (say, The Phantom or Punisher) is that the film style is very loyal to comic book styles. Action sequences are set up much like they would be on the comic pages (I kept loving the SNNNNK! of Wolverine’s claws as they came out). The visual style is bold and breathtaking, but not overly gaudy as some Batman flicks I could point out. But there’s also just a feel that you’ve stepped into an ongoing saga that had origins long before the start of the flick, and could easily continue for hours and hours after the final credits roll. I’m psyched about any sequels for the future.

My only complaint (other than it actually ending) is the choice of bad guys. Magneto (who has the power to move any metal) is a great villain, but I couldn’t get to excited about the others, including Toad (ooh, long tongue) and Sabertooth (who’s power is… he’s… um… strong). Mystique (a shape-shifter) wore out her welcome early in the film. I just get bored with the disguising-yourself-as-another-person trick (overused in other films like Mission: Impossible 2), because it just seems like a catch-all solution for any plot twist. I wished that they had brought out a few of the more interesting X-Men villains, like Juggernaut or the Sentinels. Maybe next time.

comic books! comic books! comic books! comic books!

PoolMan’s rating: Snikt! Snikt! Snikt! Snikt! Snikt! Snikt! (that’s all 6 claws)

PoolMan’s review: (I apologize right now; this is going to be longer than it should be.)

Right ON!!! At long last, somebody has the style and attention to detail to bring a comic book to the big screen, and do it right! And thankfully, it’s done with perfect timing; the release of the X Men is upon us.

As a huge fan of the X Men as a kid, I have long been counted amongst the ranks of nerds who continually wished for an X Men movie, cast and recast it in my head, and longed for the day when I’d see Wolverine do battle on the big screen. Thank goodness, the day has finally come, and I’m not disappointed in the slightest.

There is so much that could have gone wrong with the X Men that I honestly had taken a pessimistic approach to viewing the movie. I figured “comic book movies” had sucked so much in the past (see: Spawn, Captain America, Batman Forever for just a few examples) that this one would play on the loyalty of its fans, and would quietly die. Boy, was I wrong! X-Men isn’t perfect, but it sure took a few leaps and bounds ahead of the extremely horrible (recent) Batman flicks.

For starters, and for me this is the key to the whole shebang, the casting here is bar none great. Every face on the screen matches the comics to a remarkably suitable degree. From the godsend of Patrick Stewart actually taking the role of Charles Xavier to the wonderfully feral Tyler Mane as Sabretooth, all the merry mutants look like they’re supposed to (I’m talking to you, casting director of Street Fighter! Van Damme as Guile? What the hell were you thinking?). The acting is exciting when it needs to be, and quiet and subdued when the tone of the scene requires it. And then there’s Wolverine.

Make absolutely no mistake, X-Men is (justifiably) Wolverine’s movie. (never mind that Wolvie is the X-Men’s marquee character, he’s also been at the top of the Marvel charts in fanatical following for a very long time) And thank god, Hugh Jackman just nails it. His Wolverine is the most complex character on the boat here. He’s capable of the berserker rage of old, but can also be gentle enough to handle the tender relationship he forms with Rogue. Heaps of praise will no doubt float down from the X fans, and Jackman absolutely deserves every accolade. Never mind the fact that he just looks like Logan, with the overgrown mutton chops and little points in his hair. A job well done ensures his place in the series in the future.

And there will be a future. Enough doors have been left open to ensure a sequel, and the fact that X-Men took in the 4th largest opening weekend box office take in history helps a great deal too. Will we see the return of Magneto? Will Logan discover more about the infamous Project X? How will the mutants in Professor X’s school grow? There’s so many directions this franchise could take, and they’re all really cool, and worth looking forward to.

Another positive note is that while Wolverine was made the obvious focus of the flick, it’s outstanding to see that the climax of the film required the teamwork of all four X-Men and the combined use of their powers to win the day. Superheroing is a team sport, after all. Maybe that’s another part of what makes this more enjoyable than the other comic book translations available; it’s not all about one good guy vs. one bad guy. It’s about complexity of character, conflicts in personality, loyalty to one’s morals, and making the sacrifices necessary to do what’s right. But at the same time, they made the team interesting and interweaving, instead of just adding characters slapdash like they did in the Batman franchise. (actual phone conversation at WB: “What’s that? The last movie sucked? Well, throw in another Robin. We’ll call him… Robin 2. And a new bad guy. No wait, three! And give them zany new abilities! Yes I said zany!”)

A quick note to the non-fan in the audience. I tried to see it from your point of view, but I just had to indulge in all the inside touches. My advice is that you still see the movie, but buy your local mutant-lover a beer and ask him or her to explain the back story a little bit. Or you could do what you do with every other movie in the world and just learn about the characters from the movie itself. Your call.

I better put the brakes on here… I haven’t even rehashed the plot and I’m way over time. Let me just quickly say: great costumes, but I’m glad they didn’t live in them. James Marsden is wooden, but so is Cyclops, so there. Ray Park rules. Deathmatch bars can be found on every street corner in Canada. Cheers to the Statue of Liberty finally taking a little damage for once (hell, it walked across New York in Ghostbusters II and didn’t get a scratch!)

All in all, I’ve waited for the X-Men for so long, I was afraid for its arrival. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t wait to see it again. In the words of the mighty Stan Lee: Excelsior!!! ‘Nuff said.

Kyle’s rating: I want to love this film, but I just like it. I’d still date it casually, however.

Kyle’s review: This film really surprised me. I went to see it in theaters thinking it would be the usual comic book adaptation/abomination and that only strong anti-depressants would stop me from clawing out my eyes with an ice cream scoop, like my friend did after seeing The Punisher a while back (R.I.P. Skippy!). But I sat there with a big goofy grin on my face and a big shirt with Goofy on it (a gift from Grandma), my mind shocked and bewildered that they finally made X-Men and that it’s an excellent film! Anyone who has ever read a X-Men comic (and everyone has once in their life, even Republicans!) will be amazed and entertained, unless you go in thinking of the erotic XXX-Men comic (which is also good, but in a different way). X-Men is a big success, and reviewing it gives me an excuse to hit my oft-ignored “x” key over and over again! God bless the X-Men! X X X X X X X X!!!!

However . . . I have to step in with a few little quibbles. First, the ending is pretty flat. I’m not going to ruin anything, but after the supremely satisfying beginning and middle the ending is like they ran out of money at Kinko’s so they couldn’t print out the original slam-bam-thank-you-Stan-Lee ending, so they came up with a lean and no frills conclusion instead.

If they make a couple more of these movies and they fit together nicely into one giant Transformer-like 6-hour block of X-Men madness, then I’ll revise this review. Until then, X-Men is a great film that respects and cherishes its source material (and Hugh Jackman officially enters “The Man” territory with his Wolverine performance) but falters a little before it finishes up.

I also would have liked to see more teenage girls in string bikinis. But I understand, as should you, that they were trying to distill the best and more understandable elements of the comic book into the movie and that’s why we don’t get all the secondary characters or girls in bikinis. But hold out hope for the sequel(s)! And while you wait to wait in line for X-Men 2, watch X-Men and marvel at this marvelous Marvel movie! Pun intended! And eat more nachos! Nachos rule!

“Were…you able to find Bobby Fisher?”

Intermission!

  • Cameos are made by a young Iceman (Bobby), Pyro, Kitty Pryde, and Jubilee.
  • Stan Lee himself is the man in the red shirt on the beach.
  • Ray Park (Toad) gets a quick moment to reprise his Darth Maul polearm stance. Very cool.
  • Wolverine only uses his trademark “bub” once.
  • The “X” in the 20th Century Fox logo at the beginning of the film lingers and brightens as the logo fades out.
  • Justin Baity writes in, “As storm rises out of the elevator shaft and moves towards Toad (preparing for that infamous quip, say what you will about it), there are two medium-sized souveneir figurines of the Statue of Liberty in the lower right of the screen. If you keep your eye on them, you’ll see a brief time when the two statues form a Jacob’s Ladder with all the electricity that Storm is giving off. Not impressive or funny, but I thought it was an interesting use of scenery on the part of the special effects department.”
  • All the “Xs” in the film
  • The tipping jar in the bar says “Tipping is not a city in China”
  • One of the cars in the X-Men garage has a wheelchair plate on it
  • Rogue’s hair turning white in the machine
  • You can faintly hear the TV news report about Kelly’s aid being found “mauled by a bear”
  • George Buza, the trucker, portrayed the voice of Beast in the “X-Men” animated series.
  • Famke Janssen played a self-described ‘mutant’ with limited telepathy whom Patrick Stewart attempted to help in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Perfect Mate.”
  • Senator Kelly’s line at the beginning of the movie about having a list of known mutants living in the United States is based on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s famous speech about having a list of known communists working in the State Department.
  • Wolverine’s line, “What do they call you, “Wheels?” was an adlib by Hugh Jackman
  • Neither Patrick Stewart nor Sir Ian McKellen know how to play chess.
  • In X-Men, at the end of the concentration camp scene, you can hear a man shout “Oui, monsieur!”, which is obviously French. The scene is set in Poland before the invasion of France.
  • Along with Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, and Wolverine, a blue-furred character called The Beast was going to be included in the X-Men’s roster. However, because the make-up for the character would be extensive, the character was cut and his scientist persona was grafted onto Jean Grey, who became “Doctor” Jean Grey. Mystique’s “costume” consisted of blue dye and a handful of small, strategically placed plastic scales. It took seven hours to apply the finished look.
  • Despite being 6’1″, James Marsden had to wear platform shoes so that he would appear taller than Hugh Jackman (6’2″).
  • David Hayter (who wrote the screenplay and was a museum cop in X-Men) provided the voice for Solid Snake in “Metal Gear Solid” and “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty” video games. There were several uncredited script writers who also worked on X-Men, including Buffy creator Joss Whedon.
  • PoolMan: I (PoolMan) would just like to say that the infamous toad/lightning line cracked me up. I don’t know why it bothered everyone else, but I just love direct, simple humour like that. Three cheers for Storm!
  • Justin: I (Justin) would just like to say that the infamous toad/lightning line made absolutely no sense to me. It felt like a snappy one-liner that was fumbled by a quarterback with no fingers and recovered by a slug suffering from a severe case of salt poisoning. Just further proof that models should have their vocal cords removed.

Groovy Quotes

Xavier:The man who attacked you is an associate of his called Sabertooth.
Wolverine: Sabertooth? [looks at Storm] Storm. [looks at Xavier] What do they call you? “Wheels”? This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

[commenting on the X-Men uniforms]
Wolverine: You actually go outside in these things?
Cyclops: Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?

Magneto: Are you sure you saw what you saw?

Wolverine: Magneto’s right: there is a war coming. Are you sure you’re on the right side?
Storm: At least I’ve chosen a side.

Rogue: When they come out… does it hurt?
Wolverine: Every time.

Magneto: Are you a God-fearing man, Senator? That is such a strange phrase. I’ve always thought of God as a teacher; a bringer of light, wisdom, and understanding. You see, I think what you really fear is me. Me and my kind. The Brotherhood of Mutants. Oh, it’s not so surprising really. Mankind has always feared what it doesn’t understand. Well, don’t fear God, Senator, and certainly don’t fear me. Not any more.

Senator Kelly: Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is that mutants are very real, and that they are among us. We must know who they are, and above all, what they can do!

Wolverine: Hey, bub, I’m not finished with you yet.

Rogue: I saved your life!
Logan: No, you didn’t.

Rogue: The first boy I ever kissed ended up in a coma for three weeks. I can still feel him inside my head. It’s the same with you.
Wolverine: There’s not many people that’ll understand what you’re going through. But I think this guy, Xavier, is one of them. He seems to genuinely want to help you. And that’s a rare thing, for people like us.

Rogue: Where am I supposed to go?
Logan: I don’t know.
Rogue: You don’t know, or you don’t care.
Logan: Pick one.

Logan: Fight with you! Join the team? Be an X-Man? Who the hell do you think you are? You’re a mutant. The whole world out there is full of people who hate and fear you and you’re wasting your time trying to protect them? I’ve got better things to do!

Cyclops: Storm, fry him!
Magneto: Oh yes! A bolt of lightening into a huge copper conductor. I thought you lived at a school?

Magneto: We are the future, Charles, not them. They no longer matter.

Xavier: You don’t like him?
Cyclops: How could you tell?
Xavier: Well, I am psychic, you know.

Emcee: Whatever you do, don’t hit him in the balls.
Stu: You said “anything goes”!
Emcee: Anything goes, but he’ll take it personal.

Xavier: I feel a great swell of pity for the poor fool who comes to that school… looking for trouble.

Logan: If you’re really so righteous, it’d be you in that thing.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • X2
  • Spider-Man
  • Fantastic Four

23 comments

  1. […] Lissa’s Review: I’m not much into traditional superheroes. I find Superman a bore and Batman doesn’t do much for me. Not overly crazy about Spider-Man, either. Maybe it’s just that the lack of creativity in their names bugs me, but I don’t think that’s it. I think my problem is I’m not into the lone hero. When I want superhero types, I’m immediately drawn to the Wonder Twins. The League of Justice. And above all, the X-Men. […]

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