DOES WOLVERINE LEAD THE PACK IN X-MEN?

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Michæl Wilmington (Chicago Tribune), Bob Graham (San Francisco Chronicle), James Berardinelli (Reel Views), Steve Rosen (Denver Post), Ron Wells (FilmThreat.com), Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper (“Roger Ebert & The Movies” – Buena Vista TV), Susannah Breslin (“The New Movie Show with Chris Gore” – FX Channel) and Kirk Honeycutt (Hollywood Reporter).
* * * out of 4 stars (PG-13)
When I went to see “X-Men” at our local theater, I didn’t know what to expect. I never read the comic books and was not familiar with the ten mutant characters featured. I ended up liking this film, unlike some movie critics.
“X-Men” is about a race of mutant humans who develop special powers over people. The group becomes divided among each other on what role they should play in society – some wanting to rule the normal humans while others want to serve along side them. This struggle explodes on screen!
Michæl Wilmington (Chicago Tribune) said, “‘X-Men’ is a multimillion-dollar superhero comic book movie with a script so feeble it might have been written with crayons.”
Read Wilmington’s review and you’ll wish he had written it with invisible ink. Bob Graham (San Francisco Chronicle) dismisses any “feeble” notion, “This is a film with a message. It involves social outcasts and intolerance – there are specific references to Nazism and McCarthyism.”
James Berardinelli (Reel Views) also adds, “The film is effectively paced with a good balance of exposition, character development, and special effects-enhanced action.”
I was enormously fascinated by the unique abilities these ten mutants possessed – all having powers beyond our human comprehension. I won’t name all the mutants, but I will say Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) was the most interesting. Some critics disagree.
Steve Rosen (Denver Post) said the movie needed a character to care about: “It doesn’t help that Wolverine – the wolfman-like X-man who is arguably the film’s main hero – is played by Hugh Jackman as a rather lifeless Clint Eastwood/ ‘Dirty Harry’ clone with a bad memory, nasty retractable metal claws, and a rockabilly-revivalist’s haircut.”
Apparently, Mr. Rosen, you didn’t pay attention to Wolverine’s slick fight scenes; his relationship with Rogue (Anna Paquin), a girl he cannot touch without dying; his struggle among the mutants themselves; or his ability to claw your scathing review apart in one swipe.
Ron Wells (FilmThreat.com) got it right: “In Jackman, we have a star. His reaction to all this craziness defines the audience’s as he’s forced to pick sides in this super-powered struggle. Jackman’s talent and presence are the driving force behind the whole movie.”
This week the two TV critic shows, “Roger Ebert & The Movies” and “The New Movie Show with Chris Gore,” were at odds.
Ebert gave the film “an affectionate thumbs down.” Affectionate thumbs down? What is that? I wonder. Is it possible for a disgruntled reader to flip Ebert an affectionate middle FINGER? Richard Roeper, his new permanent sidekick, also gave thumbs down and said, “Right now I’m not even sure who the hero is.” The boys were obviously confused this week.
All four panelists on “The New Movie Show with Chris Gore” liked the film which was Gore’s “Pick of the Week.” Guest critic, Susannah Breslin (TNT’s Rough Cut), sums the movie up best: “It privileges character and relationships over action and effects and just when you think it may be taking itself too seriously, it completely makes fun of itself. Most importantly it aspires to be a great movie and not a great comic book movie.”
Kirk Honeycutt (Hollywood Reporter) said, ” Whether or not the film will have enough box-office oomph to establish a franchise for Fox is an open question.” Open question? It’s a closed case! This movie was packed with powerful characters who have powerful stories to tell. The special effects were top notch and the film practically screamed SEQUEL at the end.
“X-Men’s” dull ending robbed them of one star, but the mutants were fantastic on screen and Wolverine clearly led the pack.
I can’t wait to watch him dig his claws in the sequel.
–CRITIC DOCTOR




Posted on July 28, 2000 in Features by
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