Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"One of the flaws of the script is its sense of humour failure."

Mutants are treated like asylum seekers in this movie. Worse, they are treated like gypsies at a Nazi rally. "If it was up to me," a strident Senator says, "I'd lock 'em all away."

Like the aliens in Men In Black, they understand the importance of anonymity. Their peculiarities, such as walking through walls, give the filmmakers a licence to indulge in special effects, always a crowd-pleaser.

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X-Men is not the new Matrix. It doesn't have the same degree of originality. It is closer to a grown up Power Rangers, with a class of superhero Mystery Men endeavoured to satirise.

On one level the plot is a good vs evil knockabout, as disabled Prof Xavier (Patrick Stewart) plays war games with holocaust survivor, Eric (Ian McKellen), otherwise known as Magneto. On another, it concerns Magneto's attempt to capture Logan (Hugh Jackman), aka Wolverine, for reasons unknown, or, failing that, teenage runaway Rogue (Anna Paquin) for equally baffling motives.

These mutant beings are normal-looking by Hollywood standards - ie attractive and/or perfectly formed. Logan doesn't realise that his ability to produce claws of steel from his knuckles might set him apart. He's a loner trucker type, sideburned and suspicious, who makes money barefist fighting in hillbilly bars.

Rogue reckoned something was up when she kissed a boy for the first time and he went into coma for three weeks. Apparently by touch, she has the ability to suck energy from people, even kill them if she hangs on long enough. Funny she had to wait until she was 17 to find out. Did her mother die from suckling this girl? Were her friends decimated at kindergarten?

Prof Xavier is the white knight, running a school for the specially gifted, which is a front for higher mutant education. He has a loyal band of protectors, with names like Cyclops and Storm, who do the heavy stuff. Magneto has a shape-changing painted nude model, called Mystique, and a long-haired Viking type, with tiger teeth and a bad attitude, as his front line warriors.

About half way through the whole thing gets silly. Even the man who wasted years of his life pretending Star Trek mattered cannot instil irony into what has become a series of expensive conjuring tricks. One of the flaws of the script is its sense of humour failure. McKellen tries hard to puncture this aura of self-importance with theatrical business, but ends up behaving like Quentin Crisp.

The action set pieces are nothing if not spectacular, with a North By Northwest-style finale on the face of the Statue Of Liberty. By this time, director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) is up to his neck in nonsense and Wolverine has hit the road again.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Mutants face a tough time in comic book film spin off.
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Symon Parsons ***

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer, David Hayter

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Tyler Mane, Ray Park, Rebecca Romijn, Bruce Davison

Year: 2000

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

Mystery Men
X-Men 2
X-Men: The Last Stand