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Year Of Release

Bryan Singer

Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter

David Hayter, Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer

X-Men had its fair share of ups and downs before and during filming.

It had been in development since 1989, with none other than James Cameron and the now defunct Carolco Pictures.

After a number of rewrites and getting shelved several times, the film rights were given to 20th Century Fox in 1994, eventually gaining Bryan Singer in 1996 as director. After more rewrites pushed the start date back and back and back, filming eventually started in September 1999, 10 years after initial film conception.

Also, Russell Crowe was first choice to play Wolverine, but greedy demands from Crowe meant they couldn’t afford his salary.
Dougray Scott was then cast as Wolverine, but he then backed out nearly a month after filming had started in favour of Mission: Impossible 2.

Eventually, then-unknown actor Hugh Jackman stepped into the role 3 weeks after filming had actually started.

The initial acting line up overall was also very different. Janet Jackson as Storm, Terrence Stamp as Magneto and James Caviezel was first choice to play Cyclops.
Even after all these stops and starts and casting problems, Fox then dropped the filmmakers in trouble again by pulling the release date forward nearly 6 months from Christmas 2000 to July 2000, in competition with other films on the market… meaning Singer only had 6 months to actually make the film.

Logan is a drifter. He has little memory of his life before and uses his “special skills” to earn money by fighting in various underground boxing matches… He also has little to care about and his more animalistic side tends to take over his mentality toward those around him, causing him to have become a bit of a loner too.
But during a chance meeting with a young innocent runaway called Marie, he ends up in the presence of Professor Xavier at a boarding school for “gifted” children.

When it appears that Xavier is more than he seems too, Logan reluctantly (and with a bit of attitude too) stays at the school, and learns that the “gifted” children including runaway Marie, are actually mutants… just like Logan.

But when a new threat appears on the horizon in the form of a man calling himself Magneto who has delusions of an “equal world”, Logan and his new found friends in Xavier, Storm, Scott and Jean must band together, and Logan himself must, for the first time he can remember, rely on those around him as it appears the he is the target of this new enemy.

But worse things are around the corner for Xavier’s X-Men, when it appears that he was wrong about whom Magneto’s target actually is.

Ok, it was always going to be hard to start a film series based on X-Men.
But the filmmakers, even with all the problems have managed to piece together a pretty good story for the beginning of the series.

The screenplay and general scripting is pretty simplistic and the overall exposition is pretty linear… but the small twist in the third act makes for a nice surprise.
But what really does work is the audience-character connections.

Using the comics as inspiration, they’ve made a genuine cast of characters that you really care about.
Even the bad guys (Magneto’s group) have a real likeable air to them, especially the fact that you can see why they have broken away from conventional thinking and are doing what they’re doing, even if at times you don’t agree with it, you can at least see their reasoning.
They’re all very “human” when it comes to the writing aspect of the characteristics of everyone’s favourite mutants.

Another thing that stands out is that the filmmakers have incorporated a pretty realistic air of persecution and friendship between the human and mutant factions, as I mentioned with the reasoning behind Magneto’s actions.

It makes for, at times, almost a political fantasy that even Lucas would have been proud to have in Star Wars Episode I. But he didn’t

One thing that could be pointed out as a fault though, is that being the first of its kind, the film feels almost experimental in some of the tonal balances and some of the peril that the characters are going through, almost along the same lines as Superman: The Movie.
Some of X-Men however, feels kind of half-hearted toward the end and put in for the sake of getting a few action shots.
Especially when we are seeing the characters powers, but for the sake of anyone not up on the comics, it does work well and gives an idea of what these characters are capable of.

Another thing is the dialogue writing.
Throughout it’s really very good… but there are one or two slips that are immensely cheesy and almost cringe worthy in terms of wooden writing… one line in particular is between Storm and Toad… watch and you’ll see.

The acting however is bang on the money.
Hugh Jackman is absolutely the right choice for the job. His gruff, roguh and tough persona shines through brilliantly and Jackman’s natural talent is perfect for the changing characteristic of Wolverine as he becomes just a little softer as the movie progresses.
Patrick Stewart is also on form. I always like seeing Stewart but Xavier is by far one of his best roles. Stewarts natural ability to play a father figure is perfect for the role.

Halle Berry is a surprise as Storm though. It’s definitely her best role to date and she’s almost unrecognisable as the lightning charged babe.

A stand out role is Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, a love interest for Jackman and James Marsden who plays Cyclops.
Janssen is seriously likeable and plays off both her on screen love interests brilliantly.

Which brings me to James Marsden as Cyclops. One of my least favourite characters yet Marsden makes the role. Sadly though, he’s not given much of an arc or story really, he’s more of a supporting role.

Ian McKellen is by far the most impressive though. He has a genuinely realistic edge to him when it comes to threat and his chemistry on screen with anyone he’s seen with is awe inspiring. He’s also incredibly confident within the character. Outside of Gandalf, it’s another best role for X-Men.

Anna Paquin as Marie/Rogue is a bit of a hit and miss though. She’s seen throughout and is key to the story, but in act two she’s barely utilised.

Back up comes from Ray Park, Shawn Ashmore and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos makes for a beautiful femme-fatale.
Tyler Mane makes a notable showing as Sabretooth too but sadly he isn’t utilised as much as most fans, including myself, would have liked.

The action and effects are, like I said a touch experimental to allow the audience an idea of certain powers and so on…

… but they’re still very well rendered in the computers and the practical effects are great too.
The choreography is also top notch, especially in the third act. The fisticuffs between the various characters is really engaging.

I can’t help but feel it could have been just a little bit bigger. Still though, it’s apt for a starting point for the franchise.


All in all, not perfect, but a pretty good starting point for what became a series of films…

… slightly touch and go in some departments expecially some of the dialogue but the choreography and the general aura of the story, including the character arcs and “political” reasoning for the story development seen throughout make the movie a must see.

My rating: 84%