Bryan Singer’s first attempt at the seemingly impossible task of bringing The X-Men to the silver screen – like Tim Burton’s original Batman film before it – was something of a heroic failure.
I was a huge fan and collector of X-Men comics as a teen, but I think trying to cram 37 years of X-Lore into one film would have been impossible and any script writer trying to do so would be insane; so what we have is a rather diluted and superficial summary instead. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellern were obvious choices for their parts and their scenes together are of course, top notch. In fact the opening scene set during the holocaust is easily the best of the film and sets up Magneto’s character and motivations perfectly. I have to say Hugh Jackman made a pretty good fist of Wolverine as well and the political backdrop of McCarthyist mutant witch hunts was an interesting one. Unfortunately the rest of the film does not measure up; all the rest of the characters and their relationships are superficially realised at best. Turning Magneto into some kind of sub-par Bond villain was a mistake, as was turning Sabretooth into a growling half wit and the inclusion of Toad – who was always, frankly, rubbish.
Add a half-baked plot, clumsy exposition and some rather painful dialogue and this film is best viewed as a precursor to the far superior sequel. As a film in it’s own right, it simply isn’t very good.