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Bob Smithouser

Movie Review

The Batman franchise has seen better days. Superman sizzled, then fizzled. It may be up to X-Men to resuscitate Hollywood’s love affair with comic book superheroes. Judging from the way this stylish entry wraps, it’s safe to say sequels are already in the works. So how is X-Men different?

Professor X (Stewart) runs an institute designed to train young mutants to handle their special “gifts” in a safe and benevolent manner. Telekinesis. Passing through walls. Creating fire … or ice. The oddities are endless—and strike fear into the hearts of an “intolerant” society that would rather label them as freaks than accept their uniqueness. Star pupils get to be X-Men, members of an elite crime-fighting team.

When nasty mutants threaten to wipe out Manhattan, the X-Men spring into action with the help of their new recruits, a steel-taloned maverick named Logan (aka Wolverine) and Rogue, a teenage girl cursed with a poisonous touch (the symbolic angst-ridden adolescent kept at arm’s length from her world, yet desperate to connect). Indeed, the mutants represent all social outcasts forced to determine who they are and how they’ll respond to prejudice. Perfect heroes for disenfranchised youth.

Discussion-worthy symbolism and noble exploits aside, X-Men also features a lot of violence (with unsettling combat between men and women). Stabbings. Beatings. Gunplay. Electrocutions. Long falls. While rarely fatal, those scenes are intense. Elsewhere, near-nudity and mild profanity are joined by PC plugs for tolerance and the notion that humans evolved from “a single-celled organism.” All things considered, there’s nothing X-plicit or X-tremely offensive here, but X-Men still misses the mark.

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Bob Smithouser