Saturday, 14 June 2014
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?