Director: Bryan Singer
This was one of those movies that, when it was announced, I was like, Whoopty-Fuckin-Doo. Not being a huge fan of comics, and especially not the trash the studios were putting out that were loosely based on their printed counterparts. But then I heard Bryan Singer (director of The Usual Suspects) became attached, and it made things a little more interesting. Despite the obvious Hollywood-fare type of effects that accompanied the release, there is a pretty decent story here that takes a look at the increasing number "mutants" in the world, and the ungrounded backlash of prejudice aimed at them. This parallel is set up immediately with the opening scene, where a family of Jews are broken up during WWII. Despite the fantastic, Singer still manages to ground (most of) the characters in reality. You don't have to like comics or be a die-hard fan of the original series to enjoy this one. Despite some overly-effected fight sequences (with some wire work that already looks a bit dated), it's a great "super hero" film that doesn't insult its audience by catering to the lowest common denominator.
The movie mainly follows stories of Marie and Logan (aka Rogue and Wolverine), two "mutants" in the fact that they have somehow lept forward in terms of human evolution, and possess unique powers. Because the majority of the world is still trying to get used to the idea, they are easily swayed to fear these mutants, thus forcing many of them into becoming constant drifters, or hiding from society altogether. These two end up getting picked up by an organized band of mutants trying to help their integration into society, going against not only the political and social bitching and moaning, but against other mutants who would like to see changes through more drastic means.
Some great turns by pretty much all the majors, including Patrick Stewart as the humanitarian mutant Professor Charles Xavier, and Ian McKellen as Magneto. Hugh Jackman does a great job as the struggling drifter turned reluctant hero, and Bruce Davison as the major proponent of the mutant-registration lobby. There are a few lighter moments and inside jokes, but Singer pulls this one off rather well. I have to admit though that I am a bit wary to see how the next one, out on May 2nd, turns out. Will I go see it? Most likely. But that's a DMR for another day...
Great Scene: Wolverine's response to his "rival" Cyclops when challenged to prove that Wolverine is in fact himself, and not the shape-shifting Mystique.
DVD Notes: I watched the "original" DVD put out by 20th Century Fox, which is decent enough in its own right (as opposed to the recent "1.5" version put out recently to cash in on the release of the next movie). They've included highlights of Singer's interview with Charlie Rose, a great collection of character and production sketches, some animated storyboards for 2 big fight scenes, an early screener test with Hugh Jackman, and the Fox special "The Mutant Watch," which aired prior to the release of the film. Also included is the ability to watch the "branching" version, where 6 scenes that were trimmed down a bit can be watched either incorporated into the film or independently. Last but not least the single disc is packaged in a very stylish manner, with animated menus to match.