Not as good as you’d hoped, not as bad as you’ve been told. Not Ratner-bashing, but really would’ve been interesting to see Singer’s take…
Whatever your opinion of Superman Returns, it is unquestionable that it really hobbled X-Men: The Last Stand. Coming off of the critically and commercially successful X2, the third X-Men movie was poised to be a solid follow-up, with the same cast & crew. Then Bryan Singer got a better offer – reboot Superman. Sinking feeling begins…
Look, blaming Singer is plain unfair; you should never begrudge someone the chance to accept a promotion, and I don’t care what you say, X-Men is not on the same level as Superman. Yeah, I said it…He wanted to move on to what appeared to be a great opportunity. Sadly, it didn’t really work out for either franchise.
Still, this should have been a slam dunk. While Singer hadn’t planned out the storyline for the third film, the ending of X2 all but ensured we were headed into Dark Phoenix territory, so the story should have written itself. So they have the raw materials: a Claremont Classic (mixed in with a Whedon story arc), the same cast, and pots of money.
Search for a new director; directors who turned down the job included Darren Aronofsky, Joss Whedon, Alex Proyas & Zack Snyder. They hired director Matthew Vaughn, but he left the film. Sinking feeling intensifies. They replaced him with Brett Ratner. And we’re sunk. I know that is unfair to Ratner. I don’t really know why he is so reviled. He seems like a perfectly average director – nothing to write home about, sure, but not incompetent. I suppose it has more to do with the feeling that an A-list director was replaced with a utility infielder.
A further problem is that Fox was developing the Wolverine “solo” film at the same time as this movie. You can’t serve two masters successfully, and this was no exception. They didn’t want to use certain characters in this movie and not have them for Wolverine’s movie. Danger…
So, after that long introduction, how is X-Men 3? Not bad, really. At times it’s excellent.
Here’s everything good about it:
- Angel – great effects lead to some great visuals
- Casting Kelsey Grammer as Hank McCoy/Beast. Hold your hand up if you thought this was a good idea. That makes one. This seemed a horrible idea that I am only too happy to eat crow on and applaud. Frasier has got game…
- The storyline(s): both the Dark Phoenix and the Cure arcs are great stuff and welcome.
- Appearance of film version of Dr. Moira MacTaggert, making my daughter Moira smile…
Here’s everything that isn’t:
- Digital de-aging, also known as “digital skin-grafting”; this technique needs to go sit in the corner until it’s ready to play with the other modern visual effects. It’s time-consuming, expensive, looks like crap, and has convinced older actors that they can continue to monopolize roles that should go to newer actors. The “success” of this technique led Brian Cox to insist that he could play Stryker in the Wolverine spin-off. C’mon, son…
- Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel is an artist – he left after X2 (Singer brought him over to Superman Returns; seeing a trend here?) He is replaced by Dante Spinotti, who is certainly talented, but I think he was given confusing direction here. It doesn’t help that he himself is a replacement for Philippe Rousselot, who left during shooting. Spinotti then had to leave the project before the end of photography, so J. Michael Muro completed it. See what I mean about the confusing look of the film?
- Where the hell did Rogue go? Was Anna Paquin double-parked or something? She was in this movie for seemingly seconds. Considering how much these movies obsess over “Best Actress” Berry, you’d think they’d recall that Paquin actually earned her Oscar and utilize her as much as humanly possible.
- As a love interest she is replaced with Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat. That’s the third Kitty actress in three movies. Page is really not bad, I’m just including her here because the character is simply not as interesting as Rogue.
- Singer took James Marsden with him, so Cyclops is relegated to a small role, barely more than a cameo. Guess they shouldn’t have cut all his scenes in X2, huh?
- Rebecca Romijn had to accept a reduced role because of scheduling conflicts caused by the film being rushed into production. This happens WAY too much. Studios are so focused on certain release dates that they push the creative process past breaking. The breakneck pace likely had impact on the movie’s one-dimensional tone than any mismanagement by Ratner. I suspect he did the best he could; Vaughn admitted that one of the reasons he left the project is that there would not be time to complete the film properly. Really drives home the insight of Ben Burtt; “Films aren’t released, they escape.”
- Berry managed to bully her way into nearly every scene, but thankfully was still not allowed to drive on camera – they wanted to keep casualties to a minimum…
- Um, every single new mutant. Juggernaut is a dumb character, so I guess we can’t fault the fun Vinnie Jones for that. But what pop band did they raid for the rest of these people? When I see characters/actors this bad in a movie I usually assume they are rappers, even if they aren’t. Callisto, Psylocke, Arclight & Kid Omega (I had to look these up; they deservedly don’t even get named in the film) look like a multi-gendered, multi-cultural boy band; you know, during the “edgy” part of their career.
- With so many decades of comic characters to choose from there are there no better choices? Maybe my opinion that Marvel has crap villains is actually true. Scary…
- Also, it’s just sad that they always have to struggle with the problem of how to let Wolverine slash his way through lots of people without actually killing anyone important. In the previous movies they could always pull in nameless, faceless soldiers. But here in the forest, there’s nothing but mutants. Yet they seemingly have no powers unless looking non-descript and getting gutted without putting up a fight is some new mutation. They only gave him one guy with powers to actually fight (Spike). Why couldn’t he have killed some of the hair gel squad?
- Why is Nightcrawler not in this movie?
|Main Cast||Patrick Stewart Charles Xavier/Professor X, Hugh Jackman Logan/Wolverine, Halle Berry Ororo Munroe/Storm, Famke Janssen Jean Grey/Phoenix|
|Release Date||Fri 26 May 2006 UTC|
|Genres||Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller|
|Plot||When a cure is found to treat mutations, lines are drawn amongst the X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier, and the Brotherhood, a band of powerful mutants organized under Xavier’s former ally, Magneto.|
|Tagline||Take a Stand|
|Writers||Simon Kinberg (written by) &, Zak Penn (written by)|