Movie Review: X-MEN20th Century Fox
2000
PG-13

Born into a world filled with prejudice are children who possess extraordinary and dangerous powers – the result of unique genetic mutations.  Cyclops unleashes bolts of energy from his eyes.  Storm can manipulate the weather at will.  Rogue absorbs the life force of anyone she touches.  But, under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, these and other outcasts learn to harness their powers for the good of mankind.  Now they must protect those who fear them as the nefarious Magneto, who believes humans and mutants can never co-exist, unveils his sinister plan for the future!

It’s easy nowadays to take a film like X-Men for granted. I mean, sure, it’s one of the earlier entries of Marvel-based comic book movies that have seemed to saturate much of the first two decades of the 21st Century. And for any of you so-called Millennials reading this, it’s hard to really explain how dark of a period it was in most of the 1980s and 1990s when it came to good comic book movies, without the benefit of having lived through it all. Sure, there were the first two Superman movies, plus the Batman movie in 1989, as well as Blade in 1998. But then, there was Batman Forever, followed by Batman & Robin, the shiny travesty that was Spawn, not to mention the lesser known Tank Girl and Barb Wire atrocities, to say nothing of the made-for-television movies for JLA, Generation-X, and Captain America. So you can probably understand why, when the news of a live-action X-Men movie was finally going to become a reality came about, there was a bit of cautious optimism about the outcome.

I’ve never collected or read the X-Men comics. I have a firm running knowledge of the history of the comics and the characters due to my being a general pop culture junkie; instead, my knowledge of everyone’s favorite Marvel Mutants stemmed from the cartoon from the 1990s. Classic stuff, that. I knew of the core classic characters, but I didn’t really go beyond the televised version. You might say that I went into watching the X-Men movie as a rather novice, one might say “casual” fan.

I watched the movie twice the day it opened. Once at a matinee, and then once more in the evening with a couple of friends. It was–as it is now, after so many years since opening night–a rather well-made and entertaining comic book-based action movie that finally proved that we can make something based on four-color funnybooks and not make it a joke. Most of the cast were well-picked to play the iconic characters–I do still hold that Halle Berry wasn’t the right pick for Storm, and as much as I detest the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, I do consider Liev Schreiber to be the better Sabretooth–with a rather solid story that went deeper and had more texture than your standard cardboard-cutout Good-Vs.-Evil trope, and compelling character development. And, oh yeah, the action was awesome as well.

X-Men can be looked at as the movie that signaled Marvel’s rise as the comic book movie titans we all know them as now. As I’ve mentioned before, it still holds up as a great film after all these years, and one that, if you still haven’t seen it, you really should.

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