Main cast: Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey), James Marsden (Cyclops), Halle Berry (Storm), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Mystique), Bruce Davison (Senator Robert Kelly), Ray Park (Toad), and Tyler Mane (Sabretooth)
Director: Bryan Singer
It’s here! It’s here! One of my most anticipated (and dreaded) movies has arrived. I’m a part-time The X-Men fan actually, but I know all the main guys and gals. Actually, I also have dreams of becoming a mutant myself. Never mind that I have hard-pressed to explain what genetic mutations have to do with Storm controlling the weather, but me, I want a mutant ability to create one hundred dollar bills out of thin air. X-Men, here comes me!
Enough inane ramblings. X-Men delivers, thank goodness. I’m half afraid of seeing it, but the sight of Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine sheer takes my breath away. If the comic series has degenerated into a colorless series of convoluted arcs, this movie adds a welcome layer of humanity and drama underneath the fanfare and flash.
The movie folks are smart enough to narrow the players into just a few key ones. There’s Professor X, the boss and mastermind of the X-Men; he controls people’s minds. His first-in-command is Cyclops, a man whose eyes can blast destructive photon beams. Cyclops loves Jean Grey, a telepath. There’s also Rogue, who cannot touch anyone as she can inadvertently drain their life forces away. Rounding up the fun are Storm, who controls the weather and its elements and our delightful Wolverine who has adamantium claws and rapid regenerative powers.
This story takes place early in the birth of the X-Men, focusing on the recruitment of lone wolf Wolverine and alienated Rogue. These two are caught in a crossfire between the X-Men and the evil Brotherhood of Mutants led by Magneto. Magneto can control and manipulate magnetic fields, and he has with him his honchos Toad (a delightful dude who has powerful froggy tongue and can shoot slime from his mouth), Mystique who is blue and can take the form of anything and anyone, and Sabretooth, who looks more like a Neanderthal reject than any mutant.
Magneto wants to wage war on humans. Humans, you see, fear the mutants, and Magneto, who has survived the concentration camps in Nazi Germany, will not hesitate to strike before he sees his mutant people being persecuted the way humans persecuted him. This adds a human trait underneath his madness, and Ian McKellan plays him with cool grandeur. Even when he is mouthing some inane lines like Toad has a wicked tongue, like you Senator. And the X-Men are gonna get these crazies before they destroy the world.
Fun? I think so. I have a wonderful time. Mr Stewart and Mr McKellan play their patriarch roles with pomp and class. Even when they are at different sides, that doesn’t stop them from talking civilized, yes? Let the silly pugilistic games be done by their youngster henchmen, yes? And further fun are provided by Jackman, who is one fine mad dude as Wolverine. Sexy, hirsute, and he slashes bad too! And best of all, Mr Jackman adds enough human depths to his role. Am I the only one who sighed when he comforted the terrified Rogue? What a hunk, adamantium and all!
And adding some genuine vulnerability is Rogue, whose eyes flash fear and resignation with such heartbreaking intensity.
The rest of the cast have nothing much to do, I must admit. Jean Grey, the only woman smart enough not to have an inane one-word name, is pretty okay but she doesn’t do much. Cyclops, bland in the comic, is just as bland here. He looks great though. And Storm too is wasted, while Mystique and Sabretooth try, but their roles are too limited to be memorable. But Ray Park as Toad? Ooh! He and Jackman are such fun to watch! If Darth Maul was a great villain, Mr Park plays Toad just as fine as he did Darth Maul – I love that tongue and that nasty way he mocks Jean Grey when they dueled!
The ending battle is a bit of a downer – it’s clear the X-Men need some kung-fu lessons. But for the sheer fun of seeing human depths in such an amazingly fun movie, it’s sure worth every single cent of my ticket fee. And Hugh Jackman definitely steals the show as well as my attention.