Australian Council on Children and the Media

X-Men

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Not suitable under 12, Parental guidance 12 -14 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for X-Men
  • a review of X-Men completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 September 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 12-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: X-Men
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence; Supernatural theme
Length 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film X-Men begins by introducing several of the film’s lead characters along with their superhuman mutant powers. Firstly we meet a young Eric Lensherr, later to become known as Magneto (Ian McKellen), who as a young boy in war-torn Poland in 1944 demonstrates his superpower of manipulating magnetic fields when he is forcefully separated from his parents by Nazi soldiers. The film jumps forward in time to the near future where we meet Rogue (Anna Paquin), a teenage girl who has run away from home after nearly killing a young boy. Rogue’s superpower enables her to suck out the life force of any one she touches, and if that person is a mutant she also inherits their superpowers. While on the run Rogue meets Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a man whose superpowers enable him to heal any wounds within seconds.

Rogue and Wolverine are attacked by a mutant named Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) but are rescued by two X-Men - Storm (Halle Berry) and Cyclops (James Marsden). Storm and Cyclops take Rogue and Wolverine back to meet their leader, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), a mutant with the ability to control the minds of others. Xavier runs a school for young mutants, teaching the students how to use their superpowers responsibly.

Normal humans are afraid of mutants and their superpowers, and in Congress, Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) is attempting to pass a “Mutant Registration Act”, an act that would force mutants to reveal their identities and superpowers. Magneto, who fears the Act will take away the rights and freedom of mutants has built a machine that can transform normal humans into mutants; Magneto believes that if those responsible for the Mutant Registration Act are transformed into mutants they would no longer support their own bill. However, Magneto requires Rogue’s special abilities power his machine. Magneto together with Mystique (Rebecca Romijin) and Toad (Ray Park) kidnap Rogue and take her to Liberty Island where they strap her into Magneto’s machine on top of the statue of Liberty. It is now up to the X-Men to save Rogue and destroy Magneto’s machine. 

 

The film X-Men begins by introducing several of the film’s lead characters along with their superhuman mutant powers. Firstly we meet a young Eric Lensherr, later to become known as Magneto (Ian McKellen), who as a young boy in war-torn Poland in 1944 demonstrates his superpower of manipulating magnetic fields when he is forcefully separated from his parents by Nazi soldiers. The film jumps forward in time to the near future where we meet Rogue (Anna Paquin), a teenage girl who has run away from home after nearly killing a young boy. Rogue’s superpower enables her to suck out the life force of any one she touches, and if that person is a mutant she also inherits their superpowers. While on the run Rogue meets Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a man whose superpowers enable him to heal any wounds within seconds.

Rogue and Wolverine are attacked by a mutant named Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) but are rescued by two X-Men - Storm (Halle Berry) and Cyclops (James Marsden). Storm and Cyclops take Rogue and Wolverine back to meet their leader, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), a mutant with the ability to control the minds of others. Xavier runs a school for young mutants, teaching the students how to use their superpowers responsibly.


Normal humans are afraid of mutants and their superpowers, and in Congress, Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) is attempting to pass a “Mutant Registration Act”, an act that would force mutants to reveal their identities and superpowers. Magneto, who fears the Act will take away the rights and freedom of mutants has built a machine that can transform normal humans into mutants; Magneto believes that if those responsible for the Mutant Registration Act are transformed into mutants they would no longer support their own bill. However, Magneto requires Rogue’s special abilities power his machine. Magneto together with Mystique (Rebecca Romijin) and Toad (Ray Park) kidnap Rogue and take her to Liberty Island where they strap her into Magneto’s machine on top of the statue of Liberty. It is now up to the X-Men to save Rogue and destroy Magneto’s machine. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Discrimination; superpowers

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

  • Brutal fist fights between Wolverine and humans occur in a mesh cage with cheering spectators. Wolverine slams a man head-first into the mesh and a short time later the man’s unconscious body is dragged from the fighting pen. Wolverine fights a second man who kicks him in the back and punches him in the head, knocking Wolverine to his knees. The man then kicks Wolverine a number of times in the stomach, the force of the kicks lifting him off of the ground. Later the same man attempts to stab Wolverine with a knife. The attempt fails and knife blades project out of Wolverine’s fists and cut the man’s neck.
  • Wolverine drives a van with Rogue sitting in the passenger seat. The van hits a fallen tree and Wolverine crashes through the windscreen. Wolverine picks himself up from the ground and we see a bloody gash on his forehead and hear the sounds of bones cracking as he rotates his head. A brutish looking man (Sabretooth) attacks Wolverine, picking him up and hurling him through the air, knocking down several trees as his body crashes into them. Sabretooth picks up a large log and strikes Wolverine in the chest, the force of the blow knocking Wolverine a hundred feet through the air to land on the bonnet of his van. Meanwhile, Rogue is trapped inside the van which has caught on fire.
  • Wolverine lies in bed asleep and appears to be having a nightmare. Rouge enters and stands next to the bed. Wolverine awakes, sitting bolt upright. We hear the sound of blades extending from his fists and hear Rogue gasp and see three knife blades protruding from her back. The blades withdraw, leaving three small bloody wounds behind. Rogue touches Wolverine’s face and both their faces taking on an aged look with blue veins protruding from the skin as Rouge sucks out Wolverine’s life energy. Rogue’s wounds close up and heal within seconds while Wolverine falls to the floor unconscious. 
  • Magneto uses his powers to levitate dozens of guns and point them at police. A bullet stops as it reaches a policemen’s forehead. We see the bullet slowly rotate and penetrate his skin, the policeman screaming out in pain and fear before the bullet falls harmlessly to the ground. 
  • Toad falls from above to land on top of a policeman and squash him flat. We see a split second image of the squashed body beneath Toads feet; no blood and gore is depicted. In several other scenes we see Toad using his twenty foot long tongue to catch a victim and then hurl them through the air.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Sabretooth has a beast-like appearance. He has long hair, bushy eyebrows, fangs, long black claws and black eyes. He never talks, but growls like a lion.
  • Mystique has blue scaly skin covering her body and yellow cat-like eyes. She is able to transform her appearance to resemble other people. 
  • Toad has black eyes and a toad-like tongue that can extend twenty feet from his mouth. In one scene he uses his tongue to catch and eat a small bird. Toad climbs up walls and across ceilings. 
  • Senator Kelly has his face forced against prison bars, his face distorting and changing shape and his eyes protruding from his head. Later we see Senator Kelly hanging on to a cliff face by his finger tips, and when a second person grabs hold of the Senator’s hands in a bid to pull him to safety, his hands stretch as if made of rubber before the Senator falls into the sea. He walks out of the sea looking like a bloated corpse with wounds on his back. Within seconds the Senator’s body begins to transform from a bloated corpse back to normal, the cuts on his back healing.
  • In another scene we see sudden disturbing images of Senator Kelly’s body expanding and distorting as if turning to jelly and then exploding, leaving nothing behind.
  • Magneto tells Rogue that he is going to kill her and that her sacrifice will mean the survival of other mutants. Later we see Rogue handcuffed to a machine that is going to kill her, crying and calling for help.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

X-Men contains a couple of very low-level sexual references. Examples include:

  • In one scene we see Wolverine lying on an operating table with a bare chest. He tells the woman assisting him, “So you couldn’t wait to get my shirt off again”.
  • In another scene Wolverine flirts with a woman. When the woman’s boyfriend walks in Wolverine asks him if he was going to ask Wolverine to stay away from his girl. 

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Women wear low-cut tops that reveal a degree of cleavage.
  • A teenage girl and boy lie on a bed kissing.
  • A naked man walks out of the sea and up onto a beach, his nakedness partly obscured by his body being grotesquely bloated and distorted. 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Wolverine smokes cigars on a number of occasions.
  • Wolverine drinks spirits and beer.
  • Rogue is struck in the back of the neck with a hypodermic syringe, causing her to fall unconscious immediately. 

Coarse language

Occasional low-level coarse language and mild name includes:

  • Arse, freak, geeks, you’re a dick, what the hell, 

In a nutshell

X-Men is a science fiction action adventure targeting at adolescent males and more than capable of entertaining its target audience, but too violent and scary for younger children

The main message from this movie is that the segregation of those who are different by those in power is evil and will lead to civil unrest and upheaval.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Self sacrifice: Wolverine demonstrates on more than one occasions his willingness to sacrifice his life in order to protect and save the life of Rogue.
  • Empathy: Wolverine demonstrates empathy towards Rogue in the manner in which he listens to, understands and responds to her distress.  

Parents may wish to discuss how the film’s depiction of discrimination and segregation relates to the treatment of minorities groups today and in the past.

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