Based on the long-running Marvel comic book series, X-MEN takes place in the near future, as certain humans are evolving into mutants with special powers. In the Canadian wilderness, a young runaway mutant named Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a bad-tempered, quick-healing mutant with retractable metal claws, are suddenly attacked by the powerful Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his lackeys. Fortunately, Cyclops (James Marsden) and Storm (Halle Berry), students of the compassionate Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), interfere and bring them back to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Here Wolverine and Rogue learn more about the conflict between Xavier and the militant Magneto, who wants to power a device that will genetically alter humans, with possibly deadly results. Only Xavier’s students can stop Magneto’s plans.Director Bryan Singer (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) displays his expertise with an ensemble cast, accomplishing a feat by making the first live-action film about an entire group of superheroes. Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the ill-tempered Wolverine is dead-on, while Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are ideally matched in their Martin Luther King, Jr.- and Malcolm X-like roles. Smart and well-paced, X-MEN towers above most comic book movies.