Sometimes, a film looks great when it is first released, but falls stale years later. Other times, a film is panned in it’s initial release only to become a cult classic and deemed ahead of its time (we’re looking at you, “Scarface!”). Every week, we will re-watch a film that is at least 15 years old and determine just how good the film would be with today’s standards.
Year Released: 2000
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen
Legacy: 7.4 on IMDB, 82 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Just three years after “Batman & Robin” flopped and almost ruined superhero films, the genre was revived when the long-awaited “X-Men” hit the silver screen. In the process, the film gave birth to the career of Jackman, who was an unknown and a last minute cast.
The film’s storyline is not based off of anything in the comic series, but instead gives a new story of the small population of mutants across the world and their sudden awareness with the rest of mankind. Fearing what they do not understand, humans in the U.S. are in support of the Mutant Registration Act, which is being proposed by Senator Robert Kelly, prompting two different reactions from Magneto and his team and Professor X and the X-Men.
Emerging in the middle of this conflict are Wolverine and Rogue, both of which are saved from an attack by Magneto’s crew by the X-Men.
Though the film was incredibly enjoyable when it debuted, sadly it has lost it’s luster, especially when compared to the rest of the films in the X-Men universe. The lines are cheesy, the story itself isn’t as strong as the ones that are based off of the comic book series and several key members are missing from this film (Beast and the Juggernaut have always come to mind, even when I was a kid). Sabretooth’s character was also flubbed. Much like the treatment of Bane in “Batman & Robin,” the writers made Sabretooth a savage, who was unintelligent and incapable of speaking instead of writing Sabretooth for what he really is, a brute assassin who is highly intelligent and has powers that mirror his rival — Wolverine.
There are also a slew of plot holes in the film. Magneto possesses a helmet that can block Professor X from reading his mind, but does not create another helmet for the rest of his team. Mystique shows up at Professor X’s university to lure Rogue away to be captured. If she knew where the facility was, why did Magneto’s team wait so long to attack?
On a positive note, the special effects of the film are pretty well done, even by today’s standards. One of the most entertaining things to watch from an effects perspective is Mystique’s transformation on-screen, which has set the tone effects in future X-Men films.
It is also hard to argue to casting for this film. Patrick Stewart was always the correct choice for Professor Charles Xavier — and was long rumored to take this role when the film went into production. With high expectations for whoever played the fan favorite Wolverine, Fox Studios made a smart move by going with an unknown for the role. During casting, Russell Crowe (who suggested Jackman to Singer), Edward Norton, Aaron Eckhart, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Viggo Mortensen, Gary Sinise and Keanu Reeves were all at one time tied to the character. It is really hard to imagine this film having similar success with Eckhart (who I have always liked) playing Wolverine.
The film is still entertaining, one thing that has changed in film post-9/11 is the tone of superhero films, which has taken on a much darker, grittier tone and moved away from the family friendly films that doomed the Batman series. With other, better film options in the X-Men universe, this film has taken the back seat.
Final Rating: 6/10