Plot-wise, it’s good against evil and that’s about it. Magneto (Ian McKellen) has a device that’s going to turn all of mankind into the same bad-guy mutants he’s got running around for him. It is possible to have good-guy mutants though and that’s where telepathic wheelchair-bound Professor Charles Xavier (aka X) (Patrick Stewart) comes in with his special school for ‘gifted children’, or “Mutant High” as one kid calls it.
Wolverine’s ability is to look as unkempt as Liam Gallagher and produce Freddy Krueger-style razor blades from his knuckles.
First out of the good camp is the only one with a sensible name, Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who undergoes a transformation too and gets to use the force, Luke. She’s been dying to have a go at Xavier’s look-into-the-future-thingummyjig and when she does, it will transform her life too.
Keeping up the rear are two-eyed Cyclops (James Marsden), presumably so-called because of his special visor as displayed above, the electrying Storm (or Halle Berry in a dodgy long, white syrup) – whose qualities extend to whipping up a.. erm.. storm – and finally Rogue (Anna Paquin), played by the actress who won an Oscar in 1993 for playing a whining little brat in The Piano, but she displays no award-winning ambitions here – just a hairdo at the end that looks stolen from Eastenders‘ Rosa di Marco.
“It’s my way, or the hard way, okay?”
The baddies are fronted by the aforementioned Magneto who has apparently borrowed Jodie Foster’s sphere from Contact and uses the magnetic force to alter the DNA of those too close to appreciate it. We see the effect it has on abducted Senator Robert Kelly (Bruce Davison), who has been campaigning against the mutants. At first his life feels enriched, but it won’t be long before he’s not a well man.
Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) is Magneto’s right-hand ma.., er.. creature, but looks like a cross between Chewbacca and Bungle from Rainbow. Star Wars chief baddie Darth Maul was portrayed by Ray Park – an actor who charges a ridiculous £15 a time for signatures – and here he plays Toad (not of Toad Hall), who has a tongue that would put Kiss‘s Gene Vincent to shame. Finally, bottle-blonde model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos portrays the almost-silent shape-shifting Mystique, who has a blue Monday every week.
“I get one line of dialogue, but I CAN do it with feeling!”
Overall, the film leaves you feeling very underwhelmed and certainly not very X-cited. The special effects are nothing particularly adventurous these days and Magneto’s brief attempt at turning everyone’s brains to mush is as stretching as it gets.
For a 12-certificate, there’s quite a lot of violence within including multiple stabbings, many by Wolverine thanks to his metal talons. With its comic overtones it gets away with the lower certificate, whereas Freddy routinely received an 18 for his antics, but it’s not a film for kids under the certificate’s age, despite the cinema’s complete lack of bothering to keep them out, as they did for The World is Not Enough and The Matrix.
By the end of the film, are we not meant to think that Xavier and Magneto are enemies? It just looks like they’ve got the same “male-bonding” thing that Tarantino said Maverick and Iceman had in Top Gun :)
Either way, X-Men 2 and a further sequel are already on their way, with many of the original cast members signed up for these additional exploits. No doubt they’ll coin even more money in than this limp effort, which recently grossed more revenue in its opening weekend than any other non-sequel (or non-prequel) in movie history.
So, while the film feels like a series of extended pop videos with a lack of substance, Fox can still be congratulated upon a full-on AV experience. The 2.35:1 Panavision ratio looks fantastic with zero artifacts and a cracking anamorphic transfer, bringing the life of the comic book sparking onto the big screen (well, a 32″ WS TV is a fairly big screen :)
I could not determine the average bitrate. Playing the film itself I couldn’t access all the usual DVD-ROM onscreen remote control features such as the titles for the individual bitrate count, so heaven knows what Fox have done to the disc on that scale.
Couple this with the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, which makes all the many action scenes such as Senator Kelly’s “experience”, Professor X’s echoing voice and the train station explosion all rumble and shake as they ought.
Storm has a bad hair day.
In the extras dept., we begin with six Deleted Scenes, in non-anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen and Dolby Pro Logic, but the clever part is that it allows you to either watch them on their own or mixed back into the film where they would have been, courtesy of seamless branching. There’s also an interview with director Bryan Singer by Charlie Rose, plus 3 Theatrical Trailers (totalling 6 mins) in non-anamorphic 16:9, 3 30-second TV Spots, similarly attired, a 30-second trailer for the soundtrack album and a trailer for the animated film that flopped so badly it put the mockers on any future Fox-drawn films, Titan A.E..
Two featurettes are included: The Mutant Watch (22 mins), in which non-anamorphic 16:9 clips are mixed in with general soundbites from the cast and crew and the plainly-titled X-Men Featurette (7 mins), which is more of the same and even contains bits of the same material. Hugh Jackman’s Screen Test does exactly what it says on the tin but lasts just a mere two minutes.
The Storyboard Animatics are animated storyboards used to visualise the look of a scene before filming. There’s two, lasting around a minute each, showing the action in the train station and upon the Statue of Liberty and they come across rather like the FMV sequence from a 3Dfx game. Finally, the Still Galleries wouldn’t play on my Creative Dxr2 DVD-ROM at all – making it crash – and on the Playstation 2, things were rather the same. It tells you to navigate this section with the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ chapter buttons but it just doesn’t work.
“Whatever Geordi can do, Picard, so can I!”
Director: Bryan Singer
Producers: Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter
Screenplay: David Hayter
Music: Michael Kamen
Professor Charles Xavier/X: Patrick Stewart
Magneto: Ian McKellen
Wolverine: Hugh Jackman
Dr. Jean Grey: Famke Janssen
Cyclops: James Marsden
Storm: Halle Berry
Rogue: Anna Paquin
Sabretooth: Tyler Mane
Toad: Ray Park
Mystique: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Senator Robert Kelly: Bruce Davison
Running time: 100 minutes
Cat no: 19942 DVD
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: 4 languages available
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Panavision)
Disc Format: DVD9
Price: £6.99 (Blu-ray); £2.99 (DVD)