Since I recently bought the entire X-Men saga on Blu-Ray (I’m addicted to buying movies, I know…), I plan to re-watch and review each one of them soon.
The first of the saga, simply titled “X-Men”, was released in the year 2000, and was directed by Bryan Singer. As every other movie in this franchise that he has directed, this first instalment is an action-heavy science fiction blockbuster that works perfectly as an entertainment piece, which is specially surprising taking into account that this is a set-up movie in which the foundations of an entire superhero universe must be built. Nowadays we are used to watching movies that forget to be fun (sometimes even forget to be good) because they are busy trying to build a universe so that sequels, prequels, spin-offs and all kinds of money-grabbing can be possible. X-Men does this just right: it’s good enough by itself so that audiences want more.
However, while succeeding at being a crowd pleaser, it lacks some more profound story, as the plot is as effective as it is simple and predictable. This flaw isn’t a big deal anyways, since the characters have a depth that, at the time, was quite unusual for a superhero flick. Therefore, watching them evolve on screen is interesting enough to compensate the simplicity of the main storyline. It is amazing to see how Wolverine (brilliantly portrayed by Hugh Jackman), Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and a surprisingly good Rogue (Anna Paquin) are constantly challenged by the situation they are in and how they develop due to those circumstances. Some relationships between characters should have been more explored, such as the Wolverine-Scott relationship, as some things certainly feel out of place.
The script is as convincing as any movie of this genre can be. The explanations they give for the mutations sound cheesy, and many of the lines (specially the one-liners) could feel out of place if it wasn’t because of the terrific job the actors did. There’s an amount of comedy I didn’t expect in this movie, too, considering its darker tone throughout the film. This gives the movie a serious look that works very well, while also offering some very pleasing comedic relief, proving that not all darker-toned movies must be dead serious, avoiding the risk to end up being dull (yes, I’m looking at you, Batman v Superman).
Action is brilliantly shot in this movie, with a dark tone that reminds of Batman (Tim Burton, 1989). Special effects look good overall even if 16 years have gone by since the original release, but there are many examples of really out-dated CGI: Wolverine’s claws often look overly lit and shiny, the jet landing scene is terrible… Most of the times these effects do not interfere with the overall viewing experience, though, so it isn’t too bad.
All in all, watching this movie has been a very nice experience and a quite surprising one, to be honest. It had been a long time since I watched this one previously, so I thought I remembered it to be a good movie because I was simply too young when watching it. Well, turns out it’s still a very pleasant superhero experience that is far from perfect, but quite above the average of nowadays’ flicks. 7/10