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Professor Xavier leads a school called X-Men, a peacekeeping force to safeguard the world against a race of genetically mutated humans. Two mutants come to a private academy for mutants whose resident superhero team must oppose a powerful mutant terrorist organization.Both Xavier and Magneto also have to contend with Senator Kelly, a heartless political leader who wants a final solution against mutants on both sides.
X-Men, it must be said, has only a few truly thrilling moments. This is not a picture that tries to blow you out of your seat. But more than any other big movie this summer, it has a consistently inventive vision.
The Marvel Comics characters are well realised, and Singer mixes the classic values of good storytelling with liberal amounts of digital magic. On the down side, this plays a little too much like the beginning of a franchise.
When the big battle between Magneto and Xavier's forces gets going, you have lightning bolts, steel claws, magnetic fields, explosive red rays and flyaway tongues. It's a variety show, and all the acts have rushed onstage at once.
The movie is respectful of its source material without being the least bit self-important. X-Men may have hit the Platonic ideal of comic-book movies, coming across as lightweight, sophisticated, wacky and straightforward all at the same time.
The script could be a lot snappier, particularly during some virtually unexplained rivalry banter between Marsden and Jackman, but X-Men is a decent start to what will no doubt be an immensely profitable series of negligible but enjoyable summer movies.