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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

At The Movies

At X-Men — **Warning, this review has spoilers galore. If you haven't seen it yet and don't want to lose any impact from it, skip this review!. What can I say about this movie? I think this phrase sums it all up: I've waited over 20 years for this movie to be made.

No hype, no muss, no fuss. I've stayed away from practically everything written or discussed about it. All I knew of this movie was the original premise behind it (the original idea of a Wolverine movie ending with him joining the X-Men) and the big-name stars attached to the project. Yes, I've seen the pictures, yes I've seen the trailers. But, outside of that, I have not wanted to hear or read about anything else. This way, going in, the only preconceived notions I had were from what I knew of the comic series' history.

I was not disappointed.

The action was first-rate throughout the feature. I think the weakest battle must have been the first Wolverine/ Sabertooth one (which the final one more than made up for!). And, the Wolverine/ Mystique fight was better than any of the ones in The Matrix!

The characters were incredibly well-defined with perhaps Storm (Halle Berry) coming in at the lowest end of that spectrum. It was interesting seeing a cocky Cyclops (James Marsden) considering his early comic book portrayals. Jean (Framke Janssen -Xenia Onatop from James Bond's GoldenEye) looked a little too old, though, but that only took away a small amount from her character. The best character, by far, was Wolverine. Extremely well defined and the actor (Hugh Jackman) looked exactly how I had envisioned him to be: gruff, tough, and agile.

The small character changes didn't bother me. I didn't mind Bobby Drake/ Iceman being so young. Or Rogue being so young. Or even Toad having that new tongue-power. It all worked and blended well together. I was also quite happy that Kitty Pryde made an appearance!!

Items of note which really impressed me: Magneto's origin or at least his childhood in the Nazi death camp. A very very powerful and moving scene. And in contrast, Xavier's School and how we actually saw all the children there as being mutants and manifesting their powers as well as going through a regular school curriculum.

Other random thoughts: I hated Senator Kelly as soon as he appeared on screen. When Mystique kicked the crap out of him after uttering: "it's because of people like you that I couldn't attend school", I was cheering. Even during his painful transformation and death I couldn't care about him. The feelings were the same as when I watched the movie The Doctor. I find it hard to be sympathetic to a character/ person who treats others like dirt until they are put in the same predicament and then gain enlightenment/ understanding of their plight. I know. It's something I have to work on. Two very shocking scenes: 1- Rogue waking Wolverine up out of a nightmare and his reaction. 2- Storm approaching Wolverine after his battle with Mystique. Both those scenes had me jumping and gasping. Incredible! I was really impressed with Hugh Jackman's performance!

Other fun scenes: the sexual tension between Wolverine and Jean Grey (a nod to the comic mythos) and the tension between Wolverine and Cyclops. I especially liked how Wolverine proved himself to the team after his battle with Mystique: Wolverine: "Ease up, it's me" Cyclops: "How do we know you're the real one?" Wolverine: "You're a dick" Cyclops: (shrugging) "It's you"

I also enjoyed the nods/winks sent directly to the audience in the know. This came from scenes such as Wolverine complaining about the costumes and Cyclops asking if he wanted yellow spandex instead (a nod to the comic fans) and Toad kicking up a bar holding the elevator doors open, twisting it around him and coming to a battle stance (for the audience who knew that he was Darth Maul!). Things like that just bring an extra sense of joy to a movie. :)

My overall rating? A phenomenal success! If any of the future films have as much oomph and energy put into it as this first one, we're in for an amazing string of excellent movies, true to the vision and feel of the comic book if not the actual storylines. I applaud the creators of this feature. It may have been a very long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait!

By the way, Chantale and I got a free Wolverine Prelude comic as well as a trading card at the theatre we were at. However, when her sister went to another theatre, she didn't get a thing. How about the rest of you?

(At The Movies (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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