Sloppy, but fun
I don't know too much about the world of X-Men. Should that make a difference in understanding and enjoying this movie? Of course not, but like any adaptation, the movie must be a whole unto itself, not needing any more external information than may be in the popular consciousness. A complicated world like that of X-Men, populated by many, many characters, has a difficult task in laying the groundwork for what is going to happen.
For all the work it needs to accomplish, the script is just plain sloppy, making little errors that are hard to overlook in their sum total. First of all, unusual things happen in this movie - it's based on a scientific viewpoint, but their modifications to reality fly out in all directions. This isn't necessarily a problem, but it is up to the script to properly set up the rules early enough so we aren't surprised by apparent new wrinkles of reality when they conveniently are introduced in favor of a desirable plot event. X-Men doesn't quite make such an egregious violation of this principle, but it's much too busy introducing characters and trying to give a sense of scope to the story that follows, to properly tell us what the rules are.
What's more is the far-reaching story is too dense to get any sense of some of the implications. We hop from scene to scene without exploration. Where is the uproar in the media concerning the devastation of a bus station and subsequent constraint of what seems like the entire local police force by their own weapons? You can argue this is a movie about mutants and that the ordinary human point of view is not of consequence - except one of the key threats is possible anti-mutant legislation passing in congress.
Pay attention to the pacing in this one. Doesn't it seem to be in a hurry? The key events of the main plot are all placed so close together in time. This could very well be to keep our apparent protagonist, Wolverine, on the scene despite his urge to take off on his own. Every time he tries to leave, something comes up. It's basically just a masking technique to push things along rather than dealing with the problems that come up in the story. I think it would have been a much more interesting story to let it progress at a more natural speed. But the pressures on a studio are to provide the big budget, fast moving, action picture. Blame this on the vicious circles of corporations and the lowest common denominator. They do manage to capture some of the magic of the big budget action pic here, though it's with a certain feeling of hollowness. If you can turn your mind off and not think too hard, it'll be much more enjoyable.
I've seen this on DVD. I have to mention that this is one of those titles that forces you to watch a lot of intro, including an extended animation leading into the main menu, before actually getting to the movie. It's just a bit too much, really. The DVD also features an extended version of the movie, incorporating extra scenes that were cut from the theatrical release. Do those scenes really add much? Not really - they are for the most part extraneous bits that made sense to cut anyway. The film felt a bit short, but we aren't provided with the material that seemed missing.
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