In anticipation of Days of Future Past, I will be reviewing the original X-Men trilogy (and maybe Origins but I’d rather not acknowledge that one). First off is:

This one I recommend.

This one I recommend.

Xavier and Magneto. Two old friends, now on opposing sides.

Xavier and Magneto. Two old friends, now on opposing sides.

Practically a classic by now.

Practically a classic by now.

The year 2000 was when one of my favourite franchises in film was kicked off. Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer had created a film, based around characters that I watched on TV during Saturday mornings that very same year. I am talking, of course, about the X-Men.

Truly, X-Men was one of my favourite things growing up and to date I’d say it’s the Marvel franchise I’m the most interested in. I didn’t see Singer’s X-Men motion picture until a few years after its initial release, but I’m happy to have done so and thus parttake in the anticipation built around Singer’s return to the director’s chair with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The film that started it all begins like so: we meet a girl named Marie (Anna Paquin), also known as Rogue. She has discovered that she’s a mutant, meaning she’s a human that posseses abilities no other human should have. To be precise, her touch can drain your life force. In a world where mutants like herself are dreaded, she runs away from home and meets The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) – a tough but lonesome mutant with claws and bones harder than most metals. After an encounter with another mutant, the animalistic Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), the two are suddenly rescued by people in black leather and brough to a school overseen by one Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), where people like them can learn to channel their powers for the better and be safe from, well, the world.

Xavier, a wheelchair-bound telepath, explains that another enemy, besides the mutant-hating government, is his old friend Magneto (Ian McKellen), formerly known as Erik Lensherr. He is a holocaust survivor with war in mind and on his side he has a seductive shape-shifter named Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), the toad-like Toad (Ray Park) and the aformentioned Sabretooth. On the good side we also have eye-lazer extraordinaire Cyclops (James Marsden), the weather-controlling Storm (Halle Berry), an ice-shooter named Bobby (Shawn Ashmore), and of course, Cyclops’ telekinetic girlfriend Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), whom Wolverine too might just want a piece of. Not even in the year 2000 were we free from love triangles.

From left to right: Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops and Jean.

From left to right: Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops and Jean.

Magneto has a machine, and with this machine he intends to give mutations to the rest of mankind. His evil plan is to kidnap Rouge and make her drain some of his powers and operate the machine herself, which will most surely kill her. See, he almost dies himself when tests it on one of the frontrunners of the ongoing Anti-Mutant campaign, Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison), who promptly turns into what I swear to God is the live action version of Meltman from Action League Now!. Clearly, this movie’s adapting a little bit of everything from the world of superheroes.

I must say, though, that this is, especially in terms of tone, a pretty solid adaptations of the stories many of us grew up with, mixing the funny moments with moments of action and intensity in the right way, as well as leaving room for drama and the obligatory metaphors for real-life neglect, oppression and racism. The casting is also pretty spot-on for the most part. Ian McKellen makes for a smashing villain, Hugh Jackman is a wonderful Wolverine, even in his first film, and don’t even tell me there exists a better option for live action Charles Xavier than Patrick Stewart.

The greatness of the actors – aside from Berry and her inexplicable accent, anyway – easily helps you forget the minor errors that have been pointed out by some of the more picky fans of the original Marvel comics, such as the fact that Hugh Jackman is tehnically a bit too tall to play Wolverine, Anna Paquin’s a little too young, Ian McKellen’s a little too old, etc. I won’t comment on the fact that they’re not as buff or busty as in the comics because let’s face it: comic books has never been the realm in which realistic body proportions reside.

Even though it feels short and not quite as grand in scale or stakes as the films that would eventually succeed it, particularly X2, the film is overall a good start to a good franchise and, as proven by the recent marathon I had with my mate Louise in preperation for DOFP, it still holds up as fun to watch. We planned this marathon mostly as a fun thing to do, but when I found out she herself hadn’t actually seen the other X-Men films and primarily wanted to see DOFP because it happens to feature Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, I knew what had to be done.

Oh, and the trailer I’ve linked to below uses the music from Dark City. Surely one must appreciate a touch like that?

4/5 whatever

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