USA 2000

Reviewed by Jos Arroyo


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Poland, 1944. When a young boy gets separated from his parents in a concentration camp, he unleashes a magnetic force that bends the fence's metal gate. The boy grows up to be Magneto. Magneto and former friend Charles Xavier, a telepath, are mutants, people whose extraordinary powers set them apart from other humans.

In America, sometime in the future, Senator Kelly is calling for a system of registration for such mutants. Meanwhile, Rogue, a young girl, runs away to Canada from her Mississippi home when she discovers she has mutant powers. (She can absorb people's life force by touching them.) There, she meets Wolverine, a mutant who is able to heal his body instantly and is fitted with an adamantium skeleton that includes retractable claws. Wolverine and Rogue are attacked by Sabretooth, one of Magneto's lackeys, but are rescued by Storm and Cyclops, associates of Professor Xavier. They take Wolverine and Rogue to Xavier's school for gifted mutants. Xavier mistakenly believes Magneto is trying to capture Wolverine; but in fact, Magneto is after Rogue, whom he kidnaps when she runs away from Xavier's school. Believing mutants to be superior to the rest of the human race, Magneto has developed a machine which mutates ordinary human's DNA and gifts them similar powers to his own; he plans for Rogue to absorb his powers - which drive the machine - and transform the world's leaders, meeting on Ellis Island, New York for a conference, into mutants.

Following the death of Kelly, on whom Magneto tested this device, Xavier realises Magneto's plan will lead to the death of many humans. Magneto's associate Mystique sabotages a device which Xavier uses to improve his telepathic skills; when the professor next uses it, he's almost killed. Wolverine joins the X-Men, a band of mutants comprising Cyclops, Storm and Grey dedicated to using their powers for the greater good. They fly to the Statue of Liberty, where Magneto is about to operate his machine. The X-Men defeat Magneto, who is imprisoned in a plastic cell.


In America, DC and Marvel are the two great publishing companies of superhero comic books. DC, which owns such titles as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, is the source of powerful childhood fantasies. Post-puberty, though, readers tend to graduate to the harsher and more complex world of Marvel, whose titles included The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and, of course, The Uncanny X-Men. There, good didnt always win in the end and superheroes were often angst-ridden characters, shunned by humanity. Yet, while Marvel ruled in comic books, DC was able to turn Superman and Batman, its two flagship characters, into blockbuster film franchises. The closest Marvel came to screen success was in television, usually anodyne cartoons for toddlers. Marvel on screen was a betrayal because it reproduced what we had left behind in DC. Moreover, DC on screen, at least in Tim Burtons Batman films, was what wed all hoped for from Marvel. These are only some of the reasons - tribal ones, admittedly - why the new X-Men film has been so keenly anticipated

Fans were right to fear that one of Marvels very best titles might have been trashed. Turning a long-running and much loved comic into a film tends to be more difficult than adapting a novel or a play. With the X-Men, there are almost 40 years worth of stories to choose from. The tone and visuals have changed over the years, too. Film-makers also have to deal with the expectations of loyal fans. Moreover any adaptation of a superhero book needs to set out how its central character came to have his or her extraordinary powers so that non-fans can follow the story. Its a complex job, one well done in X-Men by screenwriters David Hayter, Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer (also directing).

The structure theyve created for the film is built on parallelism and oppositions. Magneto, the villain, and Professor Xavier, the X-Mens founder, are in many ways equal but opposite to one another. Friendly foes, they are both powerful mutants, each with a band of followers. But whereas Magneto wants to conquer the world, Xavier wants to save it; whereas Magnetos followers are lackeys, Xaviers are students, encouraged to think for themselves. In many ways the film is about the attempt by Magneto - who first discovered his mutant powers in a concentration camp - to stop the politician Kellys Nazi-like scheme to impose a mutant-registration scheme. But its Wolverine - who makes the journey from hard-drinking loner to X-Man in order to halt to Magnetos scheme - who drives the story. Wolverines trajectory finds echoes in Rogues arc, from isolated Mississippi teenager to one of Xaviers gifted pupils, but whereas shes an outsider because of what happened to her naturally at puberty, Wolverines sense of alienation derives from being subjected to painful, state-sanctioned medical research - a further allusion to Nazism. While there are still holes in the plot, this complex but deft structure - tightly woven around the central theme of prejudice - allows different characters to share the burden of a convoluted plot.

But the film could have fallen apart if other elements hadnt succeeded. Visually, the movie is a treat. X-Man Cyclops joke about wearing yellow spandex suits suggests the film-makers were right to dispense with the garish uniforms of the original comic book and opt for darker, more high-tech accoutrements. The make-up work is accomplished - we see expressive faces behind the masks - and the set design is a superb combination of opulence and minimalism ( Xaviers school, for instance, is all leafy exteriors and oak-panelled lecture halls, but it conceals a network of chrome vaults and pristine corridors). Assisted by DoP Newton Thomas Sigel, Singers visual flair is evident throughout: from the simplest of shots such as the first image we see of Wolverine, his face shrouded in shadows and smoke, to the big set pieces - notably the fight on top of the Statue of Liberty (recalling Saboteur, 1942) - which are witty, if a little short of thrilling.

Aspects of the film X-Men clearly dont work: Halle Berry is a little too cute to play Storm and while Ian McKellen lacks the size to convey Magentos sense of physical menace Yet, in spite of this, X-Men works. Its not as good as Superman II and certainly nowhere near as good as the comic book; but its good enough to raise hopes for the sequel - Marvel may yet beat DC on screen.


Bryan Singer
Lauren Shuler Donner
Ralph Winter
David Hayter
Tom DeSanto
Bryan Singer
Director of Photography
Newton Thomas Sigel
Steven Rosenblum
Kevin Stitt
John Wright
Production Designer
John Myhre
Michael Kamen
©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Production Companies
Twentieth Century Fox presents in association with Marvel Entertainment Group
The Donners' Company/ Bad Hat Harry production
Executive Producers
Avi Arad
Stan Lee
Richard Donner
Tom DeSanto
Joel Simon
William S. Todman Jr
Associate Producers
Kevin Feige
Scott Nimerfro
Production Co-ordinators
Janine Anderton
Miniature Unit:
Kristine Scott
Production Manager
Whitney Brown
Unit Production Manager
Ross Fanger
Location Manager
Byron A. Martin
Post-production Supervisor
Holly Schiffer
2nd Unit Directors
Conrad E. Palmisano
Philip C. Pfeiffer
2nd Unit Director/Fight Sequence
Corey Yuen
Assistant Directors
Lee Cleary
Simon Board
Stephen J. Morrison
Kirsteen McLean
Miniature Unit:
Patrick Arias
2nd Unit:
Don French
Jerry Grandey
David Footman
Penny Charter
Bryn Caron
Patrick Murphy
Script Supervisors
Blanche McDermaid
2nd Unit:
Sandy Morrow
Dug Rotstein
Roger Mussenden
Elizabeth Boykewich
Ross Clydesdale
Juli-Ann Kay
Director of Photography
Miniature Unit:
Derek Vanlint
2nd Unit Directors of Photography
Michael Benson
Paul Sarossy
Camera Operators
Klemens Becker
Tim Merkel
2nd Unit:
Perry Hoffmann
Peter Luxford
Candide Franklyn
Michael Hall
Joel Guthro
Steadicam Operators
Klemens Becker
Tim Merkel
2nd Unit:
Candide Franklyn
Spacecam Operator
Hans Bjerno
Visual Effects Supervisor
Michael Fink
Visual Effects Editor
Steve R. Moore
Visual Effects Producer
Denise Davis
Visual Effects Wrangler
Bill Maher
Visual Effects Co-ordinators
John Cox
Chris Claisse
Kirsten Fazio
Visual Effects Director of Photography
David Stump
Special Visual Effects/ Digital Animation
Digital Domain
Visual Effects/Animation
Visual Effects
Hammerhead Productions
POP Film & Animation
Special Visual Effects
Digital Visual Effects
C.O.R.E Digital Pictures
Additional Visual Effects
Pacific Title Digital
Hollywood Digital
Illusion Arts
Rhythm & Hues, Inc
Pre-visualization CG Animatics
Keyframe Digital Productions Inc
Darren Cranford
Temp Composites
Reality Check Studios
X-Jet Digital Navigation Screen
Keyframe Digital Productions Inc
Digital Body Scans
Inspeck Inc
3D Matte Paintings
Matte World Digital
Special Effects
Colin Chilvers
Kaz Kobielski
Tony Kenny
Miniature Unit
Jjamb Productions, Inc
Associate Editor
Cynthia E. Thornton
Art Directors
Tamara Deverell
Paul Denham Austerberry
Set Designers
Gordon White
Thomas Carnegie
Michael Shocrylas
Andrew Menzies
Set Decorators
James Edward Ferrell
Dan Wladyka
Adam Brockbank
Bartol Rendulic
Rpin Suwannath
Nathan Schroeder
Conceptual Artists
Steve Burg
Timothy Lawrence
Scenic Artists
Ian Nelmes
2nd Key:
Stephanie Yarymowich
Storyboard Artists
Michael Ploog
Raymond Prado
Tom Southwell
John Coven
Judy Kuntz
Bruce Johnston
Armen Nazarian
Ray Pryce
Robert Malyon
Arthur Thomson
Costume Designer
Louise Mingenbach
Costume Consultant
Bob Ringwood
Costume Supervisor
Jay DuBoisson
Ann E. Brodie
Inge Klaudi
2nd Unit, Key:
Dorota Zajac
Special Make-up Design
Gordon Smith
Special Make-up Effects
FX Smith, Inc
Key Hair Stylist
Jennifer O'Halloran
Kelly Shanks
Title Design
Robert Dawson
Main Titles
End Titles
Scarlet Letters
Pacific Title
Temp Music Editor
Curt Sobel
Sound Design
Steve Boeddeker
Craig Berkey
Sound Design Consultant
Gary Rydstrom
Sound Mixer
David Lee
2nd Unit Sound Recordist
Patrick Rousseau
Re-recording Mixers
Andy Nelson
Anna Behlmer
Supervising Sound Editor
John A. Larsen
Dialogue Editors
David Kulczycki
Susan Shackelford
Sound Effects Editors
Richard Burton
David Hughes
Ethan Van Der Ryn
Jay Wilkinson
Loop Group:
Loop De Loop
John Gidcomb
Charleen Richards
Ron Cox
Supervising Editor:
R.J. Kizer
Mary Andrews
Supervising Editor:
John Morris
Andy Kopetzky
Stunt Co-ordinators
Gary Jensen
Rick Forsayeth
Weapons Handler
John 'Frenchie' Berger
Hugh Jackman
Patrick Stewart
Professor Charles Xavier
Ian McKellen
Famke Janssen
Jean Grey
James Marsden
Halle Berry
Anna Paquin
Tyler Mane
Ray Park
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Bruce Davison
Senator Robert Frank Kelly
Matthew Sharp
Henry Guyrich
Brett Morris
young Magneto
Rhona Shekter
Magneto's mother
Kenneth McGregor
Magneto's father
Shawn Roberts
Rogue's boyfriend
Donna Goodhand
Rogue's mother
John E. Nelles
Rogue's father
George Buza
Darren McGuire
Carson Manning
Scott Leva
Aron Tager
Kevin Rushton
Doug Lennox
David Nichols
newscaster 1
Malcolm Nefsky
Stu's buddy
Sumela Kay
Shawn Ashmore
Katrina Florece
Alexander Burton
Quinn Wright
lily pond kid
Daniel Magder
boy on raft
Matt Weinberg
Madison Lanc
Tommy's sister
Stan Lee
hot dog vendor
Nanette Barrutia-Harrison
newscaster 2
Adam Robitel
guy on line
Dave Brown
lead cop
Ben P. Jensen
Sabretooth cop
Tom DeSanto
Toad cop
Todd Dulmage
coast guard
Dan Duran
newscaster 3
Elias Zarou
U.N. secretary general
David Black
Robert R. Snow
secret service
David Hayter
museum cop
Cecil Phillips
security guard
Dave Allen Clark
newscaster 4
Deryck Blake
plastic prison guard
Ilke Hincer
Ron Sham
Jay Yoo
Gregori Miakouchkine
Eleanor Comes
Giuseppe Gallaccio
Rupinder Brar
Abi Ganem
Joey Purpura
Manuel Verge
Wolfgang Müller
Ralph Zuljan
Andy Grote
German soldiers
20th Century Fox (UK)
9,377 feet
104 minutes 12 seconds
Dolby Digital Surround-EX/DTS/SDDS
Colour/Prints by
2.35:1 [Panavision]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011