Release Year: 2000
Director: Bryan Singer
Screenwriter(s): David Hayter, Bryan Singer (story), Tom DeSanto (story)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Bruce Davidson
Rating: Won 8 Saturn Awards: Best Science Fiction, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman), Best Supporting Actor (Patrick Stewart), Best Supporting Actress (Rebecca Romijn), Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Anna Paquin), Best costumes. 2 Saturn Award nominations: Best Make-up, Best Special Effects.
Two mutants (Hugh Jackman and Anna Paquin) cross paths and move into a school for others of their kind that also houses the base of the so-called X-men, who must fight against the mutant Magneto (Ian McKellen) to save mankind.
Following the excellent adaptation of unorthodox Marvel superhero Blade (1998), Bryan Singer’s X-men was the movie that spearheaded a new era in which superhero movies became cool and manyfold. X-men is a great example of how to start off a franchise with an ensemble cast. The first half of the refreshingly short running time (just over 1½ hour) is basically introductions to the characters and the X-men world. Singer cleverly chooses only to include the most essential background stories: Magneto torn from his parents in a Nazi concentration camp, the reason Rogue runs away from home, and a bit of Wolverine before meeting Professor X (Patrick Stewart). The downside to this is that most of the other mutants are a bit two dimensional, but it is a small price to pay for a well-balanced script. When things really get going toward the end we are treated to well-executed action and great set-pieces. However, the greatest thing about X-men is without doubt Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. His sarcastic and crumpy persona acts as a perfect guide to the X-men universe, making sure to deliver great oneliners to balance out the instances in which the script swerves towards the silly (we’re looking at you, Storm). X-Men serves best as a build-up to the excellent follow-up X-Men 2 (2003), but stands very well on its own and is a worthy beginning to a so far great franchise.
Shortly after accepting the role of Magneto, Ian McKellen was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. He initially had to decline but talked to director Bryan Singer about his interest in doing LotR, so Singer agreed to rearrange the shooting schedule so that McKellen could finish his scenes in X-men by the end of December 1999 and head to New Zealand in January 2000 to join the production which had started in October.
Picture Copyright: SF Film