Monday, 27 March 2017

X-Men (2000)

"Well, what would you prefer- yellow spandex?"

I've blogged so many Marvel films but, Deadpool aside, no X-Men ones. The reason is simple, of course: my film-watching life didn't start when I started doing films for this blog back in 2011, and by that point I'd already seen the first three. But I now remember very little of them and it's time to go back to what was arguably, with Blade not being seen by the general public as a superhero film, the beginning of the Marvel cinematic age we live in.

And it's good, faithfully showing both the premise and the characters from the comics  Patrick Stewart is an obvious choice for Professor X, although it's odd that he doesn't adopt an American accent, but Ian McKellen was born to play Magneto. But what really works, I think, is the decision to use Rogue and Wolverine as POV characters to justify all the exposition, odd though it is to see a very young Anna Paquin as another Southern belle so soon after marathoning True Blood.

The film keeps the plot simple and allows the characters to breathe, benefiting, I think, from the fact that Chris Claremont's run on the title set a style of almost soap opera, with characterisation a strong point. In that sense, I suppose, you can argue that the franchise is more suited to TV than film, but the richness of the characterisations cannot be other than a benefit. Wolverine and Rogue are well-sketched here, and it's noticeable that there's only time to hint at the depths of the likes of Storm or Cyclops.

It's an interesting choice for Magneto's character to have an early Holocaust flashback, evoking Schindler's List by use of monochrome, but it adds texture. And the treatment of bigotry against Mutants is designed well to evoke homophobia rather than the original Civil Rights era metaphor for racism. It's gruesomely fascinating to see Senator Kelly get his heavily CGI comeuppance, mind, and turning him into a kind of mutant evokes the creepy conclusion of Freaks. But it's a solidly constructed film, with a suitably visual finale at the Statue of Liberty and a sequel-hunting coda with Xavier and Magneto. It's a fine beginning to the franchise.

Oh, and on an actor-spotting note... the Toad is played by the same actor as Darth Maul!!!

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