BASED ON THE MARVEL COMIC CREATED BY
SCREEN STORY BY
LAUREN SHULER DONNER
A very good comic book movie which helped usher in Marvel as a major source for film entertainment, the X-Men is a long running Marvel Comics series which has been superbly adapted to the big screen by The Usual Suspects co-writer/director Bryan Singer, who has taken a fantastical concept and placed a realistic spin on it.
The films story concerns a genetic mutation in the evolutionary process which has created a new breed of humans who have all been gifted – or to some, cursed – with a special ability. Feared by mankind who view these mutants as dangerous, a powerful Senator (Bruce Davison) exploits the publics fear and tries to persuade Congress to create a mutant registration act.
This in turn splits the mutant race into two warring factions; the X-men, who are under the guidance of the wise and powerful telepath Dr. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), and those who subscribe to the anti-mankind teachings of Magneto (Ian McKellan).
Throughout the film are themes which contrast sharply to many real life issues such as civil and homosexual rights, religious persecution, and ethnic cleansing (especially in regards to WWII and the Holocaust, which is a major part of Magneto’s back story.)
The films choice casting elevates the material. Veteran thespians Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan (in a role which, along with The Lord of the Rings, broke him into the mainstream) play off each other very well; the then unknown Australian actor Hugh Jackman – who was a last minute replacement for Dougray Scott – brings the desired qualities of anger, intensity, and strength to the pivotal role of Wolverine, which launched as a major star in Hollywood; and former models Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, and Rebecca Romijn “fill out” their roles quite nicely.
Special and visual effects look amazing and are used appropriately; Louise Mingenbach provides simple yet striking costume designs which have been toned down from the comic book to match the films realistic slant; make up by Gordon J. Smith and Ann Brodie successfully transform these actors (especially in regards to Rebecca Romijn’s Mystique) into their mutant roles; and the impressive set designs - particularly the X-Mansion – contain enough gadgets and secret pathways to make Batman blush!