$2.50 Reviews: X-Men (2000)

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$2.50 Reviews:

X-Men

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The reason that X-Men works as both an introduction to the series and as a standalone movie is because of the character of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Without his character, or one that is similar, it would be very difficult to set-up some of the things that have already been established before the film begins, without it sounding redundant to the other characters. However, since Wolverine starts the film off as a blank slate, people can tell him, and us, things that everyone else already knows, and it serves a purpose within the plot.

What, no yellow spandex? ;)
What, no yellow spandex? ;)

One day, a high-school runaway named Rogue (Anna Paquin) runs into the aforementioned Wolverine, and the two set out on the road together. They're attacked by a big, hairy man named Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), but are saved by a man who can shoot lasers beams out of his eyes, named Cyclops (James Marsden), and a woman who can control the weather, Storm (Halle Berry). They are both brought to a school for mutants -- people with special powers -- with Rogue becoming a student, and Wolverine sticking around because the professor, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), promises that he'll help Wolverine recover some of his lost memories.

See, for reasons that are not explained at this point in the film, Wolverine has little to no memory of a large portion of his life. Xavier's can then explain to him anything that we, the audience, need to know, and it sounds natural enough inside the film. One of the things that Xavier tells him is that Sabretooth was ordered to attack him by a mutant named Magneto (Ian McKellen). The reason for this attack is revealed later on in the film, but suffice to say that Wolverine had something that Magneto wanted.

The "X-Men" that are mentioned in the title are the oldest and most experienced people at Xavier's school. The two people who saved Wolverine and Rogue near the beginning of the film are part of it, but they are also joined by the school's doctor, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). She has telekinesis and some telepathy. (Although her telepathy is nowhere near as strong as Xavier's, we are told). Wolverine's power is an accelerated healing rate, and the fact that he can make three claws come out of his knuckles whenever he wants. Rogue, well, whoever she touches ends up knocked out. And if she touches a mutant, she gets their ability for a while.

An actual chess match between these two, if done right, could be so intense.
An actual chess match between these two, if done right, could be so intense.

Have I covered every mutant in the movie yet? Definitely not, because there are still the villains to talk about. Sabretooth seems to be able to take a lot of punishment without damage to his body, although his powers aren't explicitly mentioned. Magneto has the ability to move anything that is made of metal, while the other person he hires, named Toad (Ray Park), has an extra long tongue and is very flexible. There's also Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), who has a blue body when in her "natural" state, but can shape-shift into almost whatever body type she wants to. It seems to me that the names of these characters were all very easy to come up with. But maybe this is a good thing, because when we see them use their powers, we instantly recall their names, because of how directly correlated the two are.

Speaking of powers, most of them are done through CGI. Not all of them, because things like Wolverine's claws are easier to make molds of, but things like Cyclops' lasers, Storm's lightning or Toad's tongue were all computer animated. The result is actually quite good. There's only one part that looked fake, and that was Storm's lightning strikes. They look quite bad, and you can easily tell that lightning wouldn't work that way. The rest all looks believable enough though, which is quite impressive considering that X-Men came out in 2000.

It quickly becomes clear that he is our main character.
It quickly becomes clear that he is our main character.

Even though the special effects do look quite good, the action scenes without them are less impressive. There are two hand-to-hand combat scenes in the film, both occurring near the end. To put it bluntly, they are poorly done. Firstly, it barely looks like the characters are hitting one another. Secondly, the choreography is lacking. Finally, characters fly way too far for how hard they're supposedly hit. When CGI is flying at one another, this kind of makes sense. You get hit with a Cyclops' laser, you might fly back ten feet. A punch wouldn't do that, and when it barely looks like the punch connects anyway, it feels really fake.

I'll always maintain that X-Men's cast is very good. The cast plays their roles well, but that's to be expected when the cast consists of Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry. These actors all put a lot of work into their characters, and it was nice to see that translating the X-Men from the comics to the big screen didn't make the series lose energy. They may even take their characters too seriously, but that's hardly a problem in my eyes. No, it's not a 100% faithful adaptation, but really, what is? To me, everyone did an excellent job, both in terms of actors, and the people who put the film together.

X-Men was clearly opening the franchise for more film adaptations. In that regard, it did an excellent job. We learn some things about the characters, but just enough to make us intrigued enough to want to learn more. The plot only really gets going in the last 30 minutes, but we need the first hour to give us the information we need in order to care about these characters, as well as to give us enough back-story so that the next film won't need to have as much explaining. All of the actors played their roles well, and it's just a shame that a small bit of CGI felt out-of-place. Ultimately though, that's not enough to stop X-Men from being a great film.

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Every time this comes on, I gotta watch it. Great review as always.

It's a good movie, but it hasn't really aged all too well.

I was also upset that Wolverine didn't stab to many people in the first movie. Which is the one thing I'll always love about X2 where he "cuts loose" sorta speak.

This has got me excited for your review of X2, especially after seeing First Class tonight, and loving the hell out of it. Can't wait! :D

Casual Shinji:
It's a good movie, but it hasn't really aged all too well.

How so? I didn't have much problem with the special effects or anything like that.

Not a bad review, even though I felt like I am reading a child's book version of a more mature review. Also, it's spelled "Rogue", not "Rouge".:)

The Human Torch:
Not a bad review, even though I felt like I am reading a child's book version of a more mature review.

Could you explain more what you mean by this? Like...is there something specific that makes it feel that way? Or is it not covering a certain point? Or...what?

I'm just trying to figure out why it feels that way, so I can (hopefully) improve.

And I fixed that Rogue thing. >_>

Marter:

The Human Torch:
Not a bad review, even though I felt like I am reading a child's book version of a more mature review.

Could you explain more what you mean by this? Like...is there something specific that makes it feel that way? Or is it not covering a certain point? Or...what?

I'm just trying to figure out why it feels that way, so I can (hopefully) improve.

And I fixed that Rogue thing. >_>

It's kinda hard to explain without sounding like an arrogant tosser, but I will try anyway, just please don't get insulted. Your English and grammar skills are...simplistic (for lack of a better word). Sentence build-up is juvenile, there are quite a few short sentences which say nothing more than "CGI is good, fighting is bad", it just feels awkward to read this.

Does this mean that I am looking for one sentence of the length of an entire paragraph? No, but I feel that you need to flesh out the points that you make, the criticism that you bring, the language that you use. Your reviews feel more like I am reading a transcript than an actual written review. Like a casual conversation we could be having over a beer.

I hope that this explains it a bit better to you, Lord knows I had problems putting it into words.

The Human Torch:
It's kinda hard to explain without sounding like an arrogant tosser, but I will try anyway, just please don't get insulted. Your English and grammar skills are...simplistic (for lack of a better word). Sentence build-up is juvenile, there are quite a few short sentences which say nothing more than "CGI is good, fighting is bad", it just feels awkward to read this.

Does this mean that I am looking for one sentence of the length of an entire paragraph? No, but I feel that you need to flesh out the points that you make, the criticism that you bring, the language that you use. Your reviews feel more like I am reading a transcript than an actual written review. Like a casual conversation we could be having over a beer.

I hope that this explains it a bit better to you, Lord knows I had problems putting it into words.

That's fair, and is also something that I'm aware of. (However, I often feel that simpler is better, so I tend not to worry about it to much). It's funny though, I was told when I first started that I wasn't personal enough. Now, if I'm reading what you're saying properly, it's almost too personal. Like you said, a "casual conversation". I'll have to keep this in mind.

Thanks for the criticism!

Marter:

Casual Shinji:
It's a good movie, but it hasn't really aged all too well.

How so? I didn't have much problem with the special effects or anything like that.

I'd have to say that in the wake of other super hero movies that came afterward, [i]X Men[i] just doesn't feel as "true" to its source as they did.

And I feel that there was way too much emphasis on Wolverine throughout the movies, which kind of created a backlash with me in terms the first film. I'd go in to more detail, but I'm typing this shit on my PS3 with my controller since my PC's busted.

Marter:

The Human Torch:
It's kinda hard to explain without sounding like an arrogant tosser, but I will try anyway, just please don't get insulted. Your English and grammar skills are...simplistic (for lack of a better word). Sentence build-up is juvenile, there are quite a few short sentences which say nothing more than "CGI is good, fighting is bad", it just feels awkward to read this.

Does this mean that I am looking for one sentence of the length of an entire paragraph? No, but I feel that you need to flesh out the points that you make, the criticism that you bring, the language that you use. Your reviews feel more like I am reading a transcript than an actual written review. Like a casual conversation we could be having over a beer.

I hope that this explains it a bit better to you, Lord knows I had problems putting it into words.

That's fair, and is also something that I'm aware of. (However, I often feel that simpler is better, so I tend not to worry about it to much). It's funny though, I was told when I first started that I wasn't personal enough. Now, if I'm reading what you're saying properly, it's almost too personal. Like you said, a "casual conversation". I'll have to keep this in mind.

Thanks for the criticism!

Well, in the end it's all personal opinion and you will have to find a happy medium that works for you and you alone. Write in the style that you are best at, I personally prefer my reviews heavily professional, objective and distant, instead of feeling like I am listening to some guy ranting about a certain topic. If I want rants I will listen to Yahtzee and (sometimes) Moviebob, and I am hoping to find a serious reviewer on the Escapist some day. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will be you. :D

Great review. I've just rewatched this film the other day after seeing X-men: First Class and it is remarkably how much CGI has moved on since the first one (then again 11 years is a long time!).

I liked your caption about the chess match. They had a chess match in First Class which was pretty cool stuff. (Damn, I need to stop going on about that film!)

Anyway, excellent review that covers all the bases and more.

Eh, I could never get into them that much. To be honest, the only one I've ever found interesting was Wolverine, and so (brace yourselves) Origins was my favourite of the films.

Well I have just rewatched the first two after seeing "First Class" and I just noticed what bothered me with the first movies.

The look, and cinematography of the movies are very sterile, filled with black, gray or white corridors, leading to a movie devoid of color.

First Class however is much more color, much more wide shots to give a location more feeling. Overall First Class does feel more like the comic book, especially in the editing.

I do recommend the first X-Men movie, but if you haven't seen any of the films, I suggest you start with "First Class".

Marter:

Casual Shinji:
It's a good movie, but it hasn't really aged all too well.

How so? I didn't have much problem with the special effects or anything like that.

I think it just hasn't aged yet, for some reason (apart from GCI) it still feels very fresh and current. I'm sure it'll age well in it's own time.
On what Human Torch mentioned, I think that's what I actually like about your reviews, they feel more natural and indeed like a casual conversation, we already have enough people doing the elitist wordsmith game and this style is just always refreshing to read.

I agree with another poster in this thread who said that you're review is a tad simplistically worded and could do with some development. That said, I can tend to ramble on endlessly so there are good points to your keeping it concise. Perhaps if you had a bit more familiarity with cinematic tropes and terminology? Overall another nice review, getting your opinion across nicely.

That said, I don't fully agree. You are right in saying that we need Wolverine or someone like him, someone as unfamiliar with the world and in need of exposition as the audience, (the trope for that sort of character is "The Watson" - http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheWatson A handy term for your reviews if ever you need it ;D) but I just don't really like him as a character, not that Jackman did a bad job.

Truth be told, I didn't think the movie portrayed the X-Men universe very well. Magneto was more of a scheming mastermind than his comic counterpart, who always seemed more powerful and direct, an inspirational, charismatic leader. Cyclops was just there to be an asshole for no reason, and Storm had NONE of her ethnic influence that made her so badass.

Plus, screw those costumes. It didn't feel like an X-men movie at all, it could just as easily been a secret agent gadgetty movie.

Hence I loved First Class. Sure, it had zero comic continuity, but it captured the X-men aesthetic. The yellow suits, it worked.

Odd bit of trivia...all the interesting characters are played by people from Commonwealth nations. Magneto and Xavier, British. Rogue, Canadian or New Zealander, depending on how you count it. Later on, Shadowcat, Canadian.

Also, Wolverine, Australian...but he wasn't that interesting, too much drivel about the love triangle and forced rivalry. Presumably this means Australia is on its way to becoming a republic.

 

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