2000 saw the release of the first film in the now 8 strong series (including Deadpool) of the X-Men which will see a further film – X-Men : Apocalypse out later in the month.
In the first of the series, we are introduced to the X-Men universe and the background to the world of ‘mutants’ and their range of powers. Directed by Bryan Singer who co-wrote the story with Tom DeSanto with a screenplay by David Hayter.
A powerful opening scene where we see the young Eric Lehnsherr being dragged from his mother in a nazi concentration camp in 1947 sets a strong tone for the film in the nature of mankind’s potential response to the notion of mutated, advanced humans with significant powers.
We meet two somewhat lost characters early in the story, ‘Rogue’ a young girl feeling her home having discovered a dark side to her powers and ‘Wolverine’ a man with the ability to heal and a metallic skeleton which was grafted to him in earlier life. The two find themselves joining a school teaching young mutant’s not only academic pursuits, but also to harness and control their powers, overseen by Professor Charles Xavier.
Xavier, a powerful mutant with the ability to read and control minds, has developed a team of these gifted people to form the ‘X-Men’ – a group at battle with the ‘Brotherhood of Mutants’ a similar group with a very different approach to the best way for the mutant population. This group is led by Lensherr, now known as Magneto.
The group take on Magneto as he attempts to draw an end to the conflict between man and mutant by forever changing the stakes of the debate…all heading towards a huge set piece finale at the Statue of Liberty.
In his Hollywood debut, Hugh Jackman made Wolverine his own and in this film, we’re reminded just how good he was in that first appearance. In this he is surrounded by big hitting acting talent, with especial nods to Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan who are both perfectly cast and add huge levels of gravitas to the film, but also Halle Berry, Famke Janssen and James Marsden.
It’s a really great film, with big action set pieces, an engaging storyline, and strong performances.
The film was followed three years later by X2. But that’s a different story…