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X-Men (2000)



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Director Bryan Singer brings the mutant comic heroes, the X-Men, to the silver screen with a faithfulness that will likely please fans. I had no previous significant exposure to the X-Men, although I knew some of their names. My feeling about it is mixed. This is a movie that, when shown to studios, was too long and talky, so Singer was asked to cut the movie down. Now it's 104 minutes and still talky. The correct solution, not that the rushed production had time for it, was to add more.

The vast majority of the movie is devoted to character scenes. It's both too much and too little. The character scenes consume so much screen time, there's not enough left for the payoff of all the complexities in the relationships that the movie introduces; yet, there aren't enough character scenes to establish sufficiently the motivation of most of the characters. Granted, there are a lot of characters, possibly too many to do justice in a movie under three hours, but would that have been a bad thing? Wolverine has the most screen time and is depicted adequately. Storm is comfortably handled as a supporting character. But the handling of Rogue falters: her involvement in the plot hinges on her relationship with Wolverine and with Xavier; her relationship to the former is handled nicely, while her relationship with the latter is all but ignored. There are other knots of inter-relationships, particularly the seeds of a love triangle between three of the X-Men, that are unevenly depicted. At the end of the video version, a number of cut scenes are shown. It's disheartening: nearly all the cut scenes would have made things better, in spite of adding more "talkiness" to an already wordy movie. If it were up to me, I'd have kept all these scenes and added more where the web of character relationships affects the story. That movie would probably clock 45 more minutes but not feel any longer at all.

But enough with the what-ifs. X-Men didn't turn out that way, so how severe was the damage? Significant, but the movie is still good. It was pleasant to see a comic book movie that took itself seriously and was not just about lunatics in capes. And if this movie is the first in a franchise, the future is promising.

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