Buggles review


Director: Bryan Singer
: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Famke Janssen

I never really saw myself as the type of person who would go see the film version of the X-Men on opening day. When Acid Logic columnist John Saleeby informed me that the U.S. government was going to be pumping poison gas in to all the theaters showing the X-Men on opening day I was even less inclined to go. Nonetheless, when my homie T-dogg called up to notify me that he had procured two tickets to the show, one with my name on it, I jumped at the chance (only to find that he was expecting sexual favors in return.)

How was it? Not bad. Not bad at all. After the Bat-Man travesties, I've come to loath superhero films, deciding that a "good" one is one that doesn't fuck up the comic book character too much. (Christopher Reeve's Superman was passable, Michael Jai White's Spawn was accessible, Michael Keaton's Bat-Man was atrocious.) But I can say this about the X-Men movie: it does the best job of replicating comic book heroes on screen as any movie... well, ever. Patrick Stewart's Professor X is right on as the crippled telepath. Hugh Jackson cuts through with his portrayal of Wolverine, the sociopath with the heart of gold. The character Rogue is mouth watering in the hands of Anna Paquin (whom I lusted after in her supporting role for She's All That.) Even more mundane characters, such as Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm, whom you'd think could be played by anybody, seem unerringly true to their comic book versions.

If any of the characters have been changed, it would be the villians, but these changes all seem for the better. Ian McKellan's Magneto is defiantly older than his comic equivalent (and considering that his origins go back to World War II, he should be) but the age gives him a bit more menace, like a battle tested general. Mystique, who in comic form I always saw as a throwaway character, is breathtaking in her Rebecca Romijn-Stamos incarnation. (In fact, all female mutants in the film seem to have an additional mutation of being incredibly gorgeous.) A character I used to see as the most worthless villain in all comicdom, The Toad, gains a bit of intimidation in the hands of Ray Park (The Phantom Menace's Darth Maul.)

Granted, the film is based on a comic book, and the comic's mutant premise becomes all the more absurd when encased in the "reality" of celluloid. I'm all for mankind evolving, but I'm pretty sure that evolution will never involve the ability to shoot force beams our eyes or having giant prehensile tongues. As such, be sure to bring and extra helping of suspension of disbelief when you see the film, you'll need it.

On the other hand, while many other superhero films fall flat in the areas of dialogue and character personalization, the X-Men fares well. Previous comic book film directors seem to feel that their movie's low brow origins are an excuse for trite conversations and infantile attempts at humor, but at times the X-Men's conversation is actually witty (with a few inside jokes for long time fans.) While it's hard to get to know get the breadth of the characters on a intimate level in just a two hour film, their personalities are well established and true (especially Wolverine, who's always had some inconsistency in his "noble savage" persona.)

Finally, the film "feels" like a comic book. It feels episodic; by the end of the film, not all the questions have been answered and you know there's more to come. Characters who have major roles in the X-Universe are hinted at (Much the way the first Bat-Man film used Billy Dee Williams to hint at the Harvey Dent character who would later be played by Tommy Lee Jones.) and sequels may mandate their reappearance. (My one real complaint with the film is the exclusion (or should I say "X-clusion") of my favorite X-Man, Nightcrawler.) The X-franchise is off and running, with defiantly the best comic book adaptation I've ever seen.

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