Saturday, 14 June 2014

X-Men (2000)

I was in a film class when this movie came to cinemas, and I one of my assignments ended up being to do a movie review of it, while specifically calling out at least three elements from a list: costume, sound direction, cinematography and so on.  The point wasn't to say whether we liked the movie, but to show we understood how cinematic conventions had been used in it.

I got a good mark for the assignment.  I don't remember all the things I talked about in it, but I definitely covered costuming: specifically the fact that the good guys wore a uniform, signalling that they represented co-operation, whereas the bad guys all wore different things (and were mostly fairly scruffy), representing disorder.

In any case: I also quite liked the movie at the time, and I didn't mind it on a re-watch, either.  It's no Avengers, don't get me wrong, but that's not really a fair comparison.  The roughly 15 years that have passed since this movie was made has raised the bar for superhero movies.

Let's put it this way: the last big budget superhero movie before this one was Batman & Robin.  You can see why X-Men seemed like such a big deal at the time.

The movie is set in 'the not too distant future', and posits a world where mutants - humans born with strange powers - are beginning to appear in small but significant numbers.  Many people are rather agitated about this, considering the new breed to be a threat to 'normal folk' and calling for enforced registration of all people with such powers.

The mutants respond to this in three different ways: the first is hiding, the second is fighting back, and the third is attempting to use their abilities to defend people and thus hopefully show that they are not a threat.

The movie drops two members of the first group - Hugh Jackman in his star-making role as Wolverine, and Anna Paquin as Rogue - into the battle between the second and third groups.  No prizes for guessing which group they'll ultimately side with.

With a decade or more gone by since I first saw it, it's a bit easier to pick out the flaws with the film.  The fight scenes aren't as dynamic as they could be and the pace is a bit stop-start.  But it's still a solidly entertaining movie, not least because of how good Ian McKellen is as the leader of the villains.  But then, what movie isn't improved by having Ian McKellen in it?

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