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Looking Back At X-MEN

Before the Apocalypse, Tom Pheby looks back at the mutant's debut feature, X-Men.

After showing off his superb storytelling skills with the 1995 Kevin Spacey movie, "The Usual Suspects", it was little surprise that Bryan Singer was given the nod to work on the most intricate and complex of the a Marvel comic books - The X-Men.

There's a lot to spread out on the table; a storyline that stretches back to Poland in 1944, the introduction of Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) and all of the key Mutant characters. There's the backdrop of rebellious senators that fear Mutants may take over America (no doubt because that's the only place in the World worth worrying about) and the threat of war between both sides - it's the old good versus evil chestnut.

It's a challenge to fit it all in, but thanks to a glorious story from Singer and Tom DeSanto, they pull it off. It's like opening a drawer full of socks desperate to see daylight, but this creates a pace and energy that an audience need from a film such as this. Yes, there could be more detail and background but it may have made the script overbalanced and complicated. What we do have is high quality stuff, plus as it is but one part in a series you don't want to lose the element of surprise you get in future installments, so I think they got it just about right.

X-Men is beautifully cast with each character cementing themselves into the plot nicely, with the likes of Hugh Jackman as the menacing and slightly unstable Wolverine, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, Tyler Mane as Sabretooth, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique, Anna Paquin as Rogue and the multi-talented James Marsden as Cyclops - who years later was almost unrecognisable in his role of Corny Collins in the musical Hairspray. The one weak link is Halle Berry, her semi lifeless and pointless portrayal of the white haired Storm is similar to a Battenberg cake with the marzipan taken off!

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen drive the story along by acting their pants off. This adds a dimension to the film which other offerings have failed miserably to match. I for one was glad when Stewart stopped making Star Trek: TNG, not because there was anything wrong with his 'Othello like' performances, but because he's gone on to so many other more meaningful things, and he excels as Charles Xavier. Then there's the fantastically bombastic, imperious and caustic Magneto - played by the wonderful Sir Ian McKellen. He always has the knack of pulling off blistering performances even if the material is as thin as toilet tissue (that's not the case here).

X-Men does manage to squeeze in a bit of the dreaded 'love interest'. There's a bizarre tug of love between Jean Grey, her current squeeze Cyclops and the Wolverine, which generates some pithy dialogue. In an exchange between Grey and 'Mr Spikey Hands' he asks: "Where's you're room?", "With Scott (Cyclops), down the hall" Grey replies. "Is that your gift? Putting up with that Guy?" responds the sarcastic Man-Wolf. But there are are more titter moments that stay with you, Xavier introduces Wolverine to Cyclops and Storm, Logan responds by saying "Cyclops? Storm? What's your name, Wheels?"

X-Men is not short of action, there's certainly plenty of that, but if any criticism is necessary then it is that the end is a little underwhelming, I can overlook it as a whole because it is a brilliant interpretation of the comic. It's easy to buy into the franchise, and if you don't own this on DVD/Blu-ray then I say go out and buy it. It won't just sit there gathering dust, you'll want to watch it over and over again. This X had the X Factor.

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter

Tomorrow Tom looks back at X-Men 2

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