A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 135 – X-Men

X-Men – July 13th, 2010

This is going to be a long-ish review for what is essentially a popcorn action movie. This is because I feel like I have to explain my history with X-Men. When I was a kid, comic books were frowned upon. I was reading at a 12th grade level in 3rd grade and More Was Expected. I was supposed to be reading novels with serious content. My brief obsession with The Babysitters Club was tolerated so long as I was also reading heavier books. So comic books had a sort of mythical quality. I had classmates who would talk about the X-Men universe and it fascinated me. A family friend left an issue of Wolverine at our house one summer (I believe it was either the introduction of Shatterstar or just introducing him to Wolverine in particular) and I read it over and over and over until it fell apart.

After my first year of college, my roommate, R, who had brought three long boxes of X-Men (and related titles) comics to school, left them with Andy for the summer instead of paying either exorbitant storage fees or exorbitant shipping fees. We had custody of them the next summer too, and being nocturnal by nature (when not held to a work schedule) I spent many summer nights reading my way through the boxes. And even though now I couldn’t really tell you specifics, and I have to look up particulars, I absorbed a lot of general knowledge about the universe and I love it.

So, all that being said, one might expect me to have some complaints about this movie. After all, it takes some severe liberties with a few characters, repurposing and reaging them for the plot at hand. Magneto needs Rogue in order to power a device that he believes will turn regular humans into mutants and maneuvers her into his power after she hitches a ride with Wolverine and they both end up at Professor Xavier’s School for the Gifted (and as a side note, the reason we’re watching this tonight is that it’s Patrick Stewart’s birthday – happy birthday, Sir Patrick!). But I’m not going to nitpick this one too badly. I’ll save my bitchery for the third movie and Callisto.

And the reason is thus: X-Men, as a comics universe, is practically swimming in a sea of alternate universes. The comics alone have a variety of timelines as part of the canon! Look at the Summers family tree! And that’s not even touching the animated cartoons, of which there are three I can think of off the top of my head (I’m partial to Evolution as I think it’s cute, but we have some of the original animated series episodes too). This is something I had to come to terms with when we watched The Little Mermaid. If I can excuse this movie’s mucking with canon – it gives Rogue an entirely new background, ditches her flight and gives her a first name – then shouldn’t I be able to deal with re-done fairytales?

Anyhow, I really do enjoy this movie. I like the casting, even though Hugh Jackman is way way taller than Wolverine should be. I think it’s fantastic that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan (both knights!) are in this as the leaders of the two mutant factions. I totally buy Anna Paquin as Rogue, and I give major props to Rebecca Romijn for her performance as Mystique (and the time she had to spend getting that makeup done). I wasn’t super fond of Famke Jansen as Jean, or James Marsden as Cyclops, not at first, but they’ve grown on me a lot. And while I think poor Halle Berry had some pretty pathetic lines and that wig to contend with, she did an admirable job with what she was given. Also? They let Ray Park actually speak in this. Not much, but it’s his real voice.

Sure, the plot’s got holes. Sure, it’s pretty silly in places. But let’s face it, there is some wacky stuff in the comics it’s based on. A machine powered by Magneto’s power that emits radiation that causes immediate mutations? That is so tame in comparison. And overall it deals with a lot of the themes that I’ve always taken as core to the universe. It touches on the fear regular humans have for mutants, shown with Senator Kelly and the Mutant Registration Act. Which also then touches on the risks of dehumanizing a group of people who are already largely in hiding. Magneto’s entire character is based on that very idea. It also deals with the theme of young mutants coming into their powers and having to deal with what those powers will mean, and the sacrifices they’ll have to make in order to lead their lives. Which really just goes right back to the first point. The movie does a good job showcasing how dangerous mutants can be, but also how difficult it is to be one and that it’s not an easy issue. Like I said, I think that’s really at the core of the X-Men in general, so I’m going to go ahead and call it a success.

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July 13, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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