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Genetic Super Heroes Save World!
Exciting “X-Men” explode on screen

By Julie Buckles

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"X-Men," the big-screen adaptation of the wildly popular comic book series, is not your run-of-the-mill summer action flick. It is much better. Intelligent, light-hearted and refreshingly devoid of gore, sex and swear words, "X-Men" follows the exploits of a group of genetically-enhanced super heroes as they battle evil to save a troubled teenage girl and the world.


Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his X-team.

Mutation is the key to evolution...every few millennia it jumps forward, we are told at the movie's start. Meet the next genetic generation: Toad uses his tongue like a rodeo cowboy. Cyclops unleashes deadly energy beams from a single eye. Storm alters weather. And our hero Wolverine, a loner with an attitude, possesses animal-keen senses, amazing regenerative powers and a set of razor-sharp claws.

There are no car chases in "X-Men" and no one is blown to smithereens. Bryan Singer, who also directed the cleverly crafted "The Usual Suspects," is more interested in the predicament of these super heroes—people born with genetic gifts but cursed by them at times.

No one more so than teenage runaway Rogue—the movie's central female character. Rogue hurts those she physically touches. Literally. She sucks their life energy and steals their special powers. She put her first boyfriend in a coma for three weeks after a brief kiss. An outcast in the "normal" world, Rogue takes to the road, finds Wolverine, wins a permanent place in his heart, and eventually seeks refuge at Xavier's School for Gifted Children.


Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)

Telepathic Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart of "Star Trek")—bald and wheelchair-bound—is a kind and visionary leader. He runs this safe house for mutant children where students not only study physics but walk through walls, read minds and turn fire to ice. His older star students—Cyclops, Storm and telekinetic Jean Grey—comprise the X-Men (and X-women) team of do-gooders.


Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos)
And their services are needed. Anti-mutant sentiment is growing in America. The zealous Senator Kelly lobbies McCarthy-style for anti-mutant legislation, and demands that all mutant names be made public.

Xavier is satisfied to quietly ride the tide of Kelly's anti-mutant hysteria. But his old friend Magneto, played by a well-weathered Ian McKellan, is not. Magneto—a man who can bend metal and stop bullets with his mind—leads The Brotherhood of Mutants, a band of bad-apple genetic malfeasants, including a slinky, purple woman aptly named Mystique, who share his "conquer-or-be-conquered" philosophy of life.

Magneto, as you might expect in comic-land, concocts an evil scheme to destroy Kelly and the world as we know it. "We are the future, Charles, not them," he tells Xavier. He kidnaps the kind-hearted Rogue—a necessary pawn in his secret plan—which sets Wolverine and the X-gang into action. The tension builds into smashing climax atop the Statue of Liberty, no less.

"X-Men" teaches a serious lesson about intolerance—replace mutants, say, with communists, immigrants, Jews, or gays—but it never loses its sense of humor. Wolverine pokes fun at the X-names, X-uniforms and X-super powers. "Keep your eye open," he tells Cyclops.

"X-Men" Opens: Nationwide July 14
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Famke Janssen.

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