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X-MEN

SYNOPSIS:
Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is the teacher and leader of strangely gifted children with a twist to their genetic code - the X-Men - that enables them to perform extraordinary feats with extraordinary powers. Cyclops’ (James Marsden), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and Storm (Halle Berry). Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Rogue (Anna Paquin) stumble into this secret enclave while a political storm erupts as US Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison), decries all mutants as a pestilence to be feared. At the same time, these X-Men find themselves locked in a physical and philosophical battle with the Professor’s former friend, Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto (Ian McKellen). One of the most powerful of mutants, Magneto has turned his back on society, believing that humans and mutants can never coexist, and that mutants are the rightful heirs to the future. He and his evil Brotherhood – the mammoth Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), the metamorph Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and the near-sighted, far-jumping Toad (Ray Park) – will stop at nothing to ensure that future, even if it threatens the very existence of mankind ... or mutantkind.

"Like the cartoons in the daily papers, comics have often reflected the social and political climate of their time.(This was created in the 60s.) Like cartoons and their film equivalent, animation, or like live cabaret, comics are a form of entertainment with potential for something to say. This is relevant in the case of the X-Men adaptation because while it will attract existing X-Men comic fans (obsessive, some of them) who will generally ignore reviews (including this one) its astute and commendable casting may even tempt a few non-fans who like to explore. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are hardly teen role models. Indeed, even Hugh Jackman was not cast in this role for his neon-lit global fame among the youth of the world - although he earns a place in the starry firmament of cinema with this well judged performance. Somewhat reminiscent of early Clint Eastwood in the first 20 minutes of the film (except with a fatter cigar between his lips than the early Eastwood cheroots) with both demeanour and stubbly face, Jackman brings a credibility and underplayed dimension to the central role of Wolverine. But back to the oldies: these men provide the gravitas director Bryan Singer was looking for; they provide both the moral backbone and the political context, which is is far more evident than it could reasonable be expected from a movie aimed to 18 - 25 year old movie patrons by a cynical Hollywood. No, it's not exactly Animal Farm in moving pictures, but neither is it vacuous. The central cause is indeed a universal issue: tolerance of difference. The oddest thing, really, is that these elements seem to have had greater attention than the usual fascination with seamless FX. Oh, yes, they are there all right, but there is an almost welcome imperfection to some of them, as if we were not being asked to ogle at the technique but enjoy the content. And I did."
Andrew L. Urban

"Buckle up, the X-Men phenomenon is here! Visually dazzling with stunning effects and a striking cast of delectable characters, X-Men is an action-packed, entertaining escapist tale about reluctant super-heroes who fight against prejudice and discrimination. Whether you're a die-hard fan or not, X-Men lives up to the hype, allowing the magic of special effects to take us into this futuristic world of superior beings. Essentially a metaphor for bigotry, the film delivers all the right messages in an entertaining way. Director Bryan Singer's assured direction has given this sci-fi fantasy adventure considerable weight, and although this may be David Hayter's first screenplay, it could well be that his life-long fascination with Stan Lee's characters has given the depth required to engage us throughout. The look of the film is superb, and the wide range of the 80 sets used adds enormous variety, texture and shades. A stroke of genius casting has the suave Patrick Stewart pitted against Ian McKellen, whose Magneto is delectable and irresistibly evil. You could call it the battle of the deep, rich voices – these two characters (like Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader in Star Wars) are cut from the same cloth, but choose different turns in the chess game of life. Hugh Jackman makes a striking Hollywood debut as Wolverine – Jackman is every bit the leading man (or should I say mutant), and certainly won't need to use his long, steel talons to claw his way up the A List ladder. Each cast member is excellent: Halle Berry imposing with her cat eyes and albino hair, Anna Paquin vulnerable as the teenager Rogue, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as the impossibly exotic blue Mystique. X-Men is exhilarating escapism, fueled by a thrilling soundtrack, imaginative production design and characters that involve us. This is stylish, sophisticated comic book entertainment that effortlessly spreads messages of trust, friendship, faith and hope."
Louise Keller

"When Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee created X-Men in 1963, he couldn't have known what an empire he launched. A complex, unusual, and universal saga of weirdo superheroes, X-Men has become the most enduring comic of this generation. Its die-hard fan base is akin to a secret legion of loyalists, and they've been foaming at the mouth for a possible film version. Add the canon fodder of poor comic book adaptations (can you say Batman and Robin?), and director Bryan Singer faced an extremely difficult task in bringing X-Men to the big screen. How could he keep the dedicated fans, the uninitiated curios, and the Hollywood execs all happy? But he does. Mostly. As the die-hard fans bicker over the details, they will be more satisfied than, say, Star Wars fans were after seeing Episode 1. Singer makes X-Men a stylish, slick adventure. It's perfectly paced, strangely engrossing, and supremely good looking. X wears snappy Richard Tyler suits in his hotrod wheelchair. The female mutants - the weather-manipulating Storm (Berry), the telekinetic Jean Grey (Janssen), and the shapeshifting Mystique (Romijn Stamos) - wear skintight costumes and lots of cleavage. Even Wolverine sports a fabulous Elvis-like quiff. The mutants' powers are both dazzling and fun, and Singer presents them perfectly. Singer has also opened a can of worms (mutant worms?) on the uninitiated public. You'll want to rush out and buy X-Men's entire back-catalogue of comics after seeing this. Why? X-Men is a human saga about evolution, and one (im)possible predicament of it. Singer expertly replicates (mostly through Wolverine, Rogue, and Senator Kelly) X-Men's universal themes of difference, alienation, and segregation. Racial prejudice has become species prejudice, and fear and uncertainty reign. Singer also exploits X-Men's charmed story of good versus evil, with the more formulaic second half having the good guys go head to head with the bad guys. The first half, for my money, is far more interesting and original."
Shannon J. Harvey

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Jenny Cooney Carrillo's interview with
HUGH JACKMAN

FEATURE

TRAILER

X-MEN (M)
(US)

CAST: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Tyler Mane, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry

DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer

PRODUCERS: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter

SCRIPT: Christopher McQuarry, Ed Solomon, Joss Whedon

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Sigel

EDITOR: Steven Rosenblum

MUSIC: Michael Kamen

PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Myhre

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 13, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

VIDEO RELEASE: January 17, 2001

VIDEO SELLTHROUGH RELEASE: July 4, 2001







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