In commemoration of the upcoming and final installment of the X-Men franchise, DARK PHOENIX (2019), I’m taking a trip down memory lane to review all of the X-Men films made by 20th Century Fox. Should be fun, y’all!
- X2 (2003)
- X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
- X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
- X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011)
- THE WOLVERINE (2013)
- X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)
- X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)
- LOGAN (2017)
Cast: Hugh Jackman (MISSING LINK , FRONT RUNNER , SHOWMAN , and EDDIE/EAGLE ), Patrick Stewart (KID/KING , EMOJI MOVIE , GREEN ROOM , TED 2 , NAUSICAA , and upcoming films CHARLIE’S ANGELS  and DRAGON RIDER ), Ian McKellen (BEAUTY/BEAST , MR. HOLMES , and upcoming films THE GOOD LIAR  and CATS ), Anna Paquin (GOOD DINOSAUR ), and Rebecca Romijn (THE PUNISHER  and FEMME FATALE )
Director: Bryan Singer (BO RHAP )
Writer: David Hayter (WATCHMEN  and THE SCORPION KING )
Producers: Kevin Feige (everything from the MCU) and Richard Donner (MAVERICK  and FREE WILLY )
Composer: Michael Kamen (THE IRON GIANT  and DIE HARD )
Cinematographer: Newton Thomas Sigel (BO RHAP, MARSHALL , and the upcoming DHAKA )
Editors: Steven Rosenblum (PROMISE , BIRTH/NATION , and PAWN SACRIFICE ), Kevin Stitt (BOOK/HENRY , JURASSIC WORLD , and THE KINGDOM ), and John Wright (INCREDIBLE HULK )
This is my honest opinion of: X-MEN
Mutants are a species of humans with extraordinary abilities and are becoming a nationwide concern. Leading the charge against them is Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison), who wants to pass a law that forces mutants to register, and seems to be gaining traction, despite the best efforts of the supporters who want the world to know that mutants aren’t any more dangerous than other humans.
In Canada, a runaway named Marie “Rogue” (Anna Paquin), who has the power to absorb a mutant’s powers or a human’s life-force, ends up meeting another mutant named Logan “Wolverine” (Hugh Jackman), who is a ferocious fighter with a metallic skeleton and claws that come out of his knuckles, as well as a powerful healing ability, and decide to travel together. It isn’t long before they’re attacked by Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), an associate of a powerful mutant named Eric “Magneto” Lensherr (Ian McKellen), who has the ability to control magnetic fields, and needs Wolverine for unknown reasons to strike against the humans that would do their kind harm. Thankfully, Wolverine and Rogue are saved by X-Men, Scott “Cyclops” Summers (James Marsden) and Ororo “Storm” Munroe (Halle Berry), who work for the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, a safe haven school for young mutants under the tutelage of the benevolent Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), a powerful psychic mutant who wants only peace between mutants and humans.
This movie still holds up for me. Eh, sure, not so much all of the CGI, or the black leather costumes, but the characters do and even got a little better with time.
Before you comic nerds get your feathers all rustled, let’s probably acknowledge a few things. If you read the comics or watched the 90s show, then you’re likely not going to like this movie. This movie works ONLY if you haven’t, like myself. I have never read an X-Men comic in my life, with the notable exception of “Old Man Logan.” As such, this movie and its characters are what I would call “my” X-Men. Sorry, but it’s true. Even as a fan of the original show, I still loved these movies as a kid. In the case of the movie that started it all, yeah, I still like it.
What’s still great? Well, Jackman owns this movie, of course. When those claws of his first come out on that dick-weed who was all like, “You owe me some money,” I get taken right back to when I was eleven years old (give or take) and saw them for the first time. They still scare me, and yet, I still want them. First thing I want to do is put pencils between my fingers and I’m thirty God-damn years old! No shame, though. But it’s true. Jackman and Wolverine are a million flavors of cool and have such great charisma that it’s easy to see why most of the X-Men movies are about him, and cashing in on his popularity. It was deserved then, and the proceeding seventeen years have been (mostly) worth it.
I think another unsung great aspect is how much I enjoy the relationship between Logan and Rogue. Seriously, for all the gruff and edge that he’s got to his character, he’s not such a dick that he won’t let some poor runaway teenager freeze to death. Even though they don’t exactly share intimate details about each other, there is a cutsie connection between them. It’s funny how animalistic Logan was just a scene ago and how soft spoken and open he is toward the end of this scene. One’s sympathetic and sweet, the other is bad-ass, yet soft enough to warrant likability. Two very different characters, but still finding a way to connect, even on a very simplistic level. Honestly, I really wish their relationship was focused on more in the sequels (yes, yes, X-MEN UNITED, I’ll get there) than the dumb-ass not-relationship between him and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who shared zero chemistry. Both with him and Marsden as Cyclops, come to think of it.
Other characters that hold up are Romijn as Mystique, who is… damn, still one of my longest running celebrity crushes. I would swear that this was the movie that got me into sci-fi blue women! Not the Twi’leks from Star Wars, or the asari from the Mass Effect video games, it was Romijn as Mystique. Sometimes I feel like I need Jesus in my life. But beyond that, it’s always a joy to see Ray Park in something and not completely caked in make-up. He’s by far the coolest Toad that’s been portrayed. And yes, it’s simply because he’s Ray Park. Love that man. Honestly, I think the casting has always been top notch in this movie. McKellen as Magneto, Stewart as Professor X, Paquin as Rogue, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman, the acting and casting has always been great.
<<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ And while certainly the effects are dated, some still hold up pretty well. I love everything that involved Senator Kelly’s mutation. The trippy way his body squeezes through the bars of the prison Magneto made for him and when he complete transforms and dies as water. Seriously, that was actually kind of terrifying. There are many ways that I want to die, and that… just, no thank you. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
But of course, not everything holds up and they really should be addressed.
Even as a kid, this always bothered me… I don’t think this is a very realistic reality that this universe establishes. I know, the whole idea behind the X-Men is that their story is that they live in a world of prejudice, but… not in 2000. Look, of course there’s bigotry and racism, even today in 2019, and will continue so long as the human race exists. But… on this level of intensity? I’m sorry, I know our current President is Trump, and he’s got a staggering amount of support, but they’re still not the majority of Americans. I have a hard time believing, be it 2019 America, or 2000 America, segregation like this wouldn’t fly, even if Mutants were real. Truth be told, I think because the X-Men really were an allegory for racism at the time of the comic’s creation, the 60’s, the only way X-Men could work is in the 60s. Racism was more rampant and wide-spread back then and equality was a severe challenge. The hate for Mutants would make more sense back then than today. Hell, today, Mutants would be celebrated, not just because equality it all the rage, but because superpowers are awesome, yo!
Also, what’s the point of that opening scene with young Magneto? Does anyone else find that it has almost nothing to do with his overall motivations and hatred toward humans. I mean, okay, fuel to the fire, but their natural hatred toward Mutants seems to be motivation enough. We don’t need the Holocaust to add to it. It seemed to me like a pointless scene in retrospect.
In retrospect, most of the X-Men are pretty bland characters, outside of Wolverine, Rogue, and Prof. X. Cyclops is just a jealous and possessive boyfriend who has to measure dicks with Wolverine and we never really see him be a tactical leader of any kind like he’s supposed to be. Jean is a tool just there to make both Cyclops and Wolverine to pine for. Thank God for the sequels, otherwise Janssen’s talent would have been horribly squandered. Storm is the closest to having a unique personality, in that she’s kind of anti-human herself, but that’s not developed in any way. The only reason why the villains get away with being bland, outside of Magneto, is because they at least have cool looks. Sabretooth looks awesome, Mystique, Park as Toad, it works for me. But the heroes, the ones we actually spend time with, this is kind of disappointing.
Confession time, as a kid, I totally defended the black uniforms, firmly believing that anything halfway resembling the costumes from the comics would look silly. In some ways, I still kind of believe that, given the darker and more dramatic tone of this universe. But now that the MCU has been a staple of the cinematic experience for the last eleven years, and they’ve pulled off colorful, distinguished costumes quite well, I can look at these costumes now and admit to some disappointment. They’re bland. Everything in action movies are black, likely thanks in large part to THE MATRIX in 1999. Certainly the “all black” color scheme isn’t new in action movies, but let’s face it, that movie popularized it like crazy. And go figure, this movie ripped off quite a bit. All black uniforms, slow-mo stunts, though these were more often than not bad CGI, the works. Yeah, some color would have gone a long way. Pressures of popularity rather than originality, I guess.
I know that this movie is that brand of PG-13 that’s geared toward kids, but come on guys, a little darkness never hurt nobody. I am referring, of course, to the scene where Magneto gets control of all the cops’ firearms and holds them all hostage while Prof. X has Sabretooth under mind control and squeezing Magneto’s throat. He fires a shot, but doesn’t kill the cop in question? Really? Why? Kids watch death in movies all the time. They didn’t have to show blood splatters, or anything, but have the dude die to prove how ruthless he is, that should have been easy. Also, why is that cop just letting that bullet press into his skull? It’s not like he was being controlled by Magneto, so why didn’t he move? This is arguably the worst directed moment in the entire movie.
And I never quite understood Mystique’s powers in this movie. Not that I know anything about her comic book counterpart, but I know her simply as a shape-shifter, not someone who can also mimic powers. Like, she had claws and everything coming out of her knuckles. Since that’s the case, why in hell didn’t she change into Magneto and rip out Wolverine’s skeleton, or mangle him into a pretzel, or just otherwise incapacitate him in some way? This makes very little sense and it’s not like this ever gets utilized in the sequels, so… what the hell?
Overall, I know this movie’s pretty polarizing between fans of the comic and simple movie-goers. Regardless of your feelings toward the film, you have to admit that this is arguably the longest running superhero franchise that has never really been rebooted. Sure, you can argue that FIRST CLASS was a reboot, but it still retained many elements from the first three movies, including actors. I love the MCU, but I still have a soft spot for this movie and the franchise it would eventually spawn. More than that, I still like this flick and don’t regret watching it today. I know better X-Men films would come out, but this was a fun starting point with some great moments. It’s not perfect and I can see the blemishes, but you already know that it doesn’t matter a whole lot to me.
My honest rating for X-MEN: 4/5