Disney+ has so much content that I found myself wandering through hundreds of available films to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon. It proved fascinating to revisit the original 2000 genesis of the X-MEN film series.
Back before the series got bloated with too many characters and two and a half hour running times, the crisp, 105 minute origin story kicks things off in style.
Anna Paquin is terrific as young, confused Rogue, just discovering her powers when she meets Wolverine, perfectly played by Hugh Jackman.
For the first time, we meet Magneto and Professor Xavier, in the towering persons of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. If anyone ever asks me for an example of perfect casting, I have to remember these two in these roles. They're not only a perfect fit, their banter is flawless. Powerful voices that elevate the material effortlessly.
The team dynamics gain humor and adventure as Storm (Halle Berry) Jean Grey (Famke Janssen of "Goldeneye"), Mystique (Rebeca Romijn) and Cyclops (James Marsden of "Westworld") all join the story.
Unlike some of the later adventures, whose stories got as bogged down in fake politics as George Lucas's endless tribunals in the "Star Wars" sequels, the adventure is both powerful and simple this first time out.
We understand that mutants are multiplying across the world and that they are being targeted to be round-up by far right leaning Senator Kelly (Bruce Davidson).
Not since Keenan Wynn's Senator in "Finian's Rainbow" has the karma of justice been so perfectly rendered. Of course this time it's at the hands of Magneto instead of a pot of gold.
Director Bryan Singer (Bohemian Rhapsody, Valkyrie) has a sure hand and finds just the right blend of humor, special effects, fable and sci-fi to keep a smile on my face during the entire, briskly paced entry.
The whole cast returned three years later, along with Singer in "X2: X-Men United".
On a fairly small $75 million budget and with nearly four times that earned at the 2000 box office, X-MEN is a sleek, fun treat that gets an A- twenty years after its release.