I must admit to not having followed the X-Men comic book (or animated TV series
for that matter) since I was a kid in the late 1970s. So I wouldn't really know
whether this movie version of the Marvel comic (about outcast mutant superheroes
who has to battle the prejudices of ordinary humans - as if you didn't know that!)
would satisfy hardcore fans. Then again, fans can be so anal and one shouldn't
spend too much time indoors with any real life equivalents of the Comic Book Store
Guy from The Simpsons.
Viewers unfamiliar with X-Men lore will however be drawn to the movie because
of its surface similarities to The Matrix (1999). Chances are they'll be
disappointed - although featuring some good special effects sequences, X-Men
is a rarity: an understated superhero comic book movie adaptation. It'll disappoint
those expecting any fierce pyrotechnics. The movie's task is closer to that of
last year's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), namely establish all the
characters and themes for an ongoing movie franchise.
brings us to another thing: when I picked up some X-Men comics a few years back
and tried getting back into it, I found the series to be the comic book equivalent
of LA Law or a day-time soap opera. There was a horde of characters, each with
his/her/its own backstory and subplots. Getting into the groove of the story was
practically impossible because of the confusion. Wisely director Bryan Singer
(Usual Suspects) tries to keep the amount of characters to a practical minimum
to avoid too much confusion. Sure, some comic geek will complain about some or
the other character from the comics being left out, but take my word: it is for
While not as good as it could have been, X-Men is nowhere as bad
as it could have been (namely as craptacular as Spawn (1997) and Batman &
Robin (1997)). It is quite entertaining, but it is simply too short. The ending
feels like an anti-climax and you'll probably want more when the credits start
rolling. No doubt there'll be sequels, and if this movie is merely setting up
the scenario for future films, then roll on X-Men 2 I say.
Review by James O'Ehley from The
Sci-Fi Movie Page.