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USA 2000
produced by
Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Avi Arad (executive), Tom DeSanto (executive), Richard Donner (executive), Stan Lee (executive) for Marvel Comics, 20th Century Fox, the Donners' Company, Bad Hat Harry Productions
directed by Bryan Singer
starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Tyler Mane, Ray Park, Rebecca Romijn, Bruce Davison, Matthew Sharp, Rhona Shekter, Kenneth McGregor, Shawn Roberts, Donna Goodhand, John Nelles, George Buza, Darren McGuire, Carson Manning, Scott Leva, Aron Tager, Kevin Rushton, Doug Lennox, David Nichols, Malcolm Nefsky, Sumela Kay, Shawn Ashmore, Katrina Florece, Alex Burton, Quinn Wright, Daniel Magder, Mattt Weinberg, Madison Lanc, Stan Lee, Marsha Graham, Amy Leland
story by Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer screenplay by David Hayter, based on the Marvel Comics-comicbook X-Men created by Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist), music by Michael Kamen, action director: Corey Yuen, special effects by Gentle Giant Studios, special makeup effects by Gordon J.Smith/FX Smith Inc, visual effects by C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, Cinesite, Digital Domain, Hammerhead Productions, Kleiser-Walczak Digital Effects, Pacific Ocean Post Digital Film Group, miniatures by JJamb Productions


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Rather by chance, outcasts Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) meet in a run-down roadhouse in Canada, and reluctantly he agrees to take her with her in his van, sensing some connection between himself and the 17 year-old girl - and indeed, the two are mutants, people who have developed superpowers thanks to genetic mutation, wolverine has incredible healing powers and retractable claws while Rogue has the ability to absorb other persons' lifeforce and/or superpowers - if only for a short while.

Soon though, everything is put to the test when they are attacked by another mutant called Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), and only saved in the nick of time by yet more mutants, Cyclops (James Marsden) - who can shoot laserbeams from his eyes -, Storm (Halle Berry) - who can produce storms - and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) - who is pretty good at telekinesis and telepathy.

Rogue and Wolverine are brought to New York to the Xavier Institute where Doc Xavier (Patrick Stewart), a wheelchair-bound scientist with amazing telepathic powers, teaches and trains mutants to become superheroes.

But where there is a guy as good as Xavier, there also is a bad guy, Magneto (Ian McKellen), a guy with amazing magnetic powers, who thinks the mutants are at war with humankind, and who with his fellow mutants Sabretooth - I don't even know what his powers are -, Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) - a shapeshifter who's blue and pretty much naked in her original form - and Toad (Ray Park) - who can scale walls and has a pretty long tongue - is determined to win that war. And how does he plan to win that war ?

Siomple enough, he wants to turn all the world leaders into mutants at an UN-summitt with a machine positioned in the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Thing is, for his machine to work he needs a mutant like Rogue at the center of his machine, and there is only one mutant like rogue: Rogue. So he and his henchies abduct her, put her into the center of Magneto's machine, and then it's a race against time between Magneto and the X-Men if either the world leaders will become mutants or Rogue will be saved which results in a battle that almost destroys the Statue of Liberty. Do I give too much away if I say now that the X-Men win ? I think not.


What can I say about X-Men ?

It's the typical blockbuster: Any attempt at decent storytelling is drowned in often pointless action sequences, any attempt at decent action choreography is drowned in overblown special effects and computer effects, and if, rather by accident, something resembling a decent story seems to shine through (rather by accident, it seems), both screenplay and direction seem to be determined to not leave out any cliché there is ... Ironcially enough though, the film even starts out borderline-interesting, with outcasts Wolverine and Rogue, two unlikely allies, meeting and learning to respect each other - but before this can be explored any deeper, a silly superhero-plot sets in and the Rogue-Wolverine subplot has to take backseat. Then again of course the film is based on a Marvel comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, so it was probably bound to be silly. Still, a little more effort put into storytelling and character development would have helped the film a lot. Furthermore, the actors in this film are all atrocious, little more than pretty faces doing nothing to bring their characters to life, with top honours taken by Halle Berry, normally a gifted actress, who is possibly delivering the worst performance of her life here. The only exception to this is Anna Paquin, who puts her heart into the role of insecure yet dangerous Rogue, but unfortunately her role is too small to make an impact on a film that should have been hers - too bad.

Despite all of my ranting though, the film did great at the box office, thanks to the successful comic it was based on, a successful advertising strategy (with trailers that looked much better than the entire film), and thanks to just the right mix of pretty face actors, fireworks and nonsense that seems to be so attractive to cinema-going audiences.

Still, if you ask me, this one's not worth your time and money by a long shot.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

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