Directed by: Bryan Singer | 105 minutes | action, thriller, science fiction | Actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anne Paquin, Halle Berry, Rebacca Romijn-Stamos, Bruce Davison, Shawn Ashmore, Tyler Mane, Ray Park, Matthew Sharp
Before director Bryan Singer ventured into superhero filming “X-Men”, he already had the intriguing Nazi thriller “Apt Pupil” and cool crime puzzle “The Usual Suspects” to his credit. These were both – although not perfect – very successful films, where the eye for the characters and the stylish direction stood out. However, an adaptation of a beloved comic is a completely different story. The emphasis is on action and spectacle while not forgetting iconic aspects of the comic and the nature of the characters. Fans should be satisfied, but newbies shouldn’t get lost either. The difficulty of a series like “X-men” is also the enormous number of (main) characters that have to be introduced. It seems like an impossible tightrope walk to combine all of these objectives into a satisfying mix, and there are bound to be disappointments, but Singer shows himself to be a skilled filmmaker by focusing on some themes and characters and building all the action and the many minor characters around it . The result is an (ultimately) action-packed superhero film with a heart. A film that immerses the viewer in an understandable way in this new universe full of mutants, manages to offer a spectacle and makes curious about what is to come. A great start for the X-men, so.
Introducing all the characters – well over a dozen – extensively would have been a daunting task, so Singer wisely chooses to focus on the main groups and some of the characters from these groups and then have these individuals propagate his themes. In fact, it revolves around humanity and two groups of mutants – people with special abilities such as weather control, telepathy, or magnetism – made up of the title X men, and the so-called Brotherhood of Mutants led by Magneto (Ian McKellen ). Under the leadership of Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), the X men wish to use their powers in a positive, constructive manner and to negotiate diplomatically with those who exclude and fear them so as to peacefully deal with them. to be able to live them together. Magneto and his mutants, on the other hand, want to fight militantly against the people because they believe they are being discriminated against on improper grounds. They want to take their rightful place in the world, if necessary by force.
To underline his theme of tolerance and the meaning and meaning of xenophobia, Singer makes clever use of Magneto’s history. In the beginning of the film, Magneto is shown as a small Jewish boy at a concentration camp while his parents are dragged away by Nazis. In short, the man has some experience with intolerant people and now that his gifts make him deal with it again, he is not going to let it go on his side just like that. Especially considering that his developed powers give him a lot of power. That this power can subsequently corrupt again is an irony that he will have to find out for himself. On the one hand, this background makes the theme clearer than ever and, on the other hand, it provides understanding for Magneto, who is now not a stereotypical bad guy, but someone who is too often disappointed by humanity and now perhaps slightly shifts to the other side, but not entirely inhuman. is.
Singer has largely focused his narrative on the characters Wolverine and Rogue, who in the film are introduced to the other mutants for the first time and thus also introduces the viewer to this world; a handy construction, since now the story can be told seemingly without interruptions while the viewer can gradually become acquainted with everything and everyone. Wolverine is the big action hero of the movie, which is a good choice of Singer. Actor Hugh Jackman is perfectly cast in this role. He is nicely cynical and sarcastic, which makes all the fantastic elements easier to swallow and there is welcome humor present. Especially his love triangle with Jean Gray (Famke Janssen) and Cyclops (Scott Speedman) makes for fun interactions.
Spectacular scenes regularly appear in the film, but in the end it’s all about the characters and themes that are treated economically and beautifully. In fact, the great conflict in mutants or the contrast between humans and mutants is bundled together in the character of Rogue, excellently played by Anna Paquin. She has been confronted with a force that severely limits her social life (everyone she touches falls into a coma), so she very much doubts what to do with this. She feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere and gets into a kind of identity crisis. The struggle in her character will later run as a leitmotiv through the series and is what gives the theme as a whole a human face and the film a heart. The fact that fun one-liners are also spouted and spectacular fights can be enjoyed is only a bonus.