Reviewed by: Deanna Marquart
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|Featuring:|| Hugh Jackman … Logan / Wolverine
Patrick Stewart … Professor Charles Xavier
Ian McKellen … Eric Lensherr / Magneto
Famke Janssen … Jean Grey
James Marsden … Scott Summers / Cyclops
Halle Berry … Ororo Munroe / Storm
Anna Paquin … Rogue
Tyler Mane … Sabretooth
Ray Park … Toad
Rebecca Romijn (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) … Mystique
Bruce Davison … Senator Kelly
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|Producer:||Avi Arad, Tom DeSanto, Richard Donner, Stan Lee, Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox|
Marvel Comic’s leading series, The Uncanny “X-Men”, makes its mark on the big screen with this summer’s hit release of “X-Men: The Movie”. Sure to delight X-fans everywhere and thrill action-lovers all around, this movie is most likely the best comic-to-film adaptation produced yet, despite a few changes made for the sake of creating an original story.
In the world of the Marvel Universe, the next step in human evolution has begun as genetic mutations are giving rise to a new species of humans, Homo superior. Commonly known as “mutants”, they possess supernatural powers. (This is the creators’ explanation for the emergence of their many superheroes and supervillains.) These mutants, however, are both feared and hated by the normal human race.
In this retelling of the X-Men saga, mutant hysteria is being fueled by the McCarthy-like campaign of Senator Kelly (Davison) who crusades the requirement of mutant registration, a law that would lead to the exposure and isolation of mutants from society. Two mutant leaders rise to oppose this mounting hatred, one for good and one for evil.
Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”), the most powerful telepathic mutant, has established a School for Gifted Youngsters for the purpose of providing a safe haven for these mutant outcasts and to train them in the wise use of their special abilities. With his students, he desires to promote understanding and peace between the two genetically divided human species. His first students, Dr. Jean Grey (Janssen), Scott/Cyclops (Marsden), and Ororo/Storm (Berry), collectively called the X-Men, serve as teachers in this school.
Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto (McKellen), so named for his mutant ability to control magnetism and thus able to manipulate anything metallic, has created his own team, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, consisting of Sabertooth (Mane), Mystique (Romijn-Stamos), and Toad (Park). Having survived a Nazi concentration camp, Magneto is driven to make sure what happened before does not happen again, by whatever means necessary.
The audience comes to understand the world of the mutants through the eyes of Logan/Wolverine (Jackman), a mutant with the ability of rapid self-healing. His skeleton, to include three long claws that can project and withdraw from each hand, had been laced with a fictional indestructible steel alloy called adamantium. His past memory though, including who laced his bones and why, had been erased. A fierce vagabond, Wolverine is grudgingly moved to take in a frightened teenager, Rogue (Pequin), who stowed away in his trailer. Her recently emerged power causes her to temporarily absorb the essence of anyone who makes contact with her skin. Their truck is stopped by the savage Sabertooth, who knocks Wolverine unconscious. But they are rescued by Cyclops, possessing powerful optic blasts, and Storm, gifted with the power of weather manipulation, who carry them to the refuge. Professor Xavier promises to help Wolverine recover his memory and discover why Magneto is after him. Magneto’s plans, however, interrupt the fulfillment of this promise, and the X-Men, with the addition of Wolverine, step in to save one of their own and stop Magneto from using a device which would eventually kill all humans it affects.
Christian objections to the film are obvious. Foremost is the theory of Evolution, the basis for the superhuman powers of the characters. Additionally, some of the mutant abilities are powers normally associated with the occult, namely telepathy and telekinesis (moving objects with one’s mind). As a comic-based movie, it well deserves its PG-13 rating for violence. Parents note: this movie is based on the comics and produced with the fans in mind, not on the cartoon with children in mind. Wolverine is a vicious fighter and has no qualms with drawing his claws on anyone who affronts him.
On a somewhat positive side, the fast action and special effects of the violence are emphasized over the gore it could produce. Sex and nudity are not a part of this film, that is if you miss the line where Jean states she and Scott share the same room, and if you see Mystique as being “clothed” with a rubber covering. Profane words, though existent are not highly noticeable, unless you are looking for it, except for where it is used for purposes of humor.
One mention of God is given from Magneto, but it is that of one who has forsaken the God of his fathers, believing Him to have abandoned His people. This statement will either make you want to cry, scream, or pray for the man’s salvation (if he were a real person).
The film, however, does have some distinct positive lessons tucked into it. The hysteria mounting against mutants had been compared to the hysteria the Nazis mounted against the Jews, but it can also be compared to all prejudice mounted against those who are different, such as from race or religion. This film exposes such hatred for what it is: ignorant, unnecessary, and murderous. At one point, Kelly asks Storm if she fears humans; she replies, “Sometimes—when they hate me.” This brings out another lesson, that of fighting hatred with hatred verses hatred with love. Magneto’s return fight of hatred only serves to escalate the hatred already ensued against him. Xavier and the X-Men, however, in fighting to protect the humans show the world the error of their fears.
The most heart-touching lesson in love, though, comes from Wolverine. Although tough in nature, he is big in heart, and he nearly sacrifices his life to save Rogue’s. “No greater love has any man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
All in all, “X-Men” pulls its weight as an action film worth seeing, while faithfully delivering to the fans all they could expect and hope. The special effects are dazzling and do well in highlighting the cogency of the characters. The actors performed phenomenally in portraying their respective characters, remaining quite true to form. One word of caution: be careful of becoming drawn into the comics from this film. As one who had been lured into them from a friend, I know how addictive and consuming they can become. Remember that we are warriors, “fighting not against flesh and blood.” Unlike the comics, our fight is real and has worth for eternity.