Ugh.

Film When I heard that hack director Brett Ratner had left the Superman project I was happy. When I heard that he'd replaced Bryan Singer on X-Men 3 I was unhappy. Then I saw the trailer and I was happy and again ? and ? well alright this could go on forever but really, I thought that actually, things might not be so bad after all, that the production momentum that Singer could have built up might have been enough for the film to quite good after all.

Today I saw the film.

Oh dear.

I've actually seen some reviews that have talked up the good aspects of the film, but frankly they're all in denial. Most comic book films run a fine line between brilliance and boredom, and I'd say that usually it's something that can't be put into words. Unless your watching Batman & Robin (or walking out as I did).

It's actually very easy to say why X-Men: The Last Stand doesn't work.

There are too many characters and not enough time given for us to care about them, or enough work done to make them distinctive enough, because it features too much bland, placeholder-rate dialogue. It doesn't have a feel for the characters that have been built up in previous films, and too many of them drop out of the film to often and illogically, some giving speeches that are fundamentally wrong as though the words have been written and given to whoever hasn't said anything for while.

There's far too much plot with two stories vying for attention either of which would have been perfectly fine on their own and were in their original comic book form. That one of the plots is from the classic Chris Claremont era and the other from Joss Whedon's latest work on what's been described as the best book since the Chris Claremont era makes the whole thing all the more horrifying.

The spectacle rules the story not the other way around, meaning that unlike the earlier films it lurches from set piece to set piece. Important, iconic story moments that fans will have been waiting for are flubbed away at the expense of other scenes that lack resonance. All of the previous talk about storms coming and the great big battle to end all great big battles add up to naught, especially in the anti-climactic resolution.

It's edited within an inch of its life and doesn't notice that in the Singer films the best moments happened when the characters were just hanging around and chatting. It's not funny enough. It has a horrifyingly generic score. It spends half its time referencing the first film then actually tells us it's referencing the first film in the dialogue.

Hmm.

But paradoxically there are still some moments of genius, hairs on the back of the neck brilliance. Some of the characters work extremely well when they're given room, especially Beast and Kitty Pride who both have the best fight scenes in the film. Despite looking uncomfortable with some of his lines, Hugh Jackman's still great as Wolverine and given that she ends up effectively carrying the other half the film, Hallie Berry finally shines in her role as Storm.

Some of the new mutants are special even if many of them feel generically characterized. The opening scene in the Danger Room is fun even if it tosses off a plotline from the comics that would have been excellent had the filmmakers had the balls to have gone with it, especially since it is the actual final battle, not the sortie that appears here. Some of the special effects are, well, special, even if at times it feels as though the film pauses for a while so that we can see them.

Really this is one of those cases when I'd sufficiently lowered my expectations and still ended up disappointed. To be honest, it's amazing how carefully the X-Men trilogy has paralleled a certain other sacred trilogy. And just like Jedi, this'll pass the time but not make you feel truly satisfied.

2 comments:

  1. Joss Whedon's first story arc on 'Astonishing X-Men', which used the mutant cure storyline but in a much more engaging way, was enormously fun. (Whedon's second story arc, however, was merely decent and felt as if it had been stretched out over two too many issues to fill a trade paperback. Happily his third story arc, still unfolding, shows considerable promise.)

    However, I fear that you have been grievously misinformed as to the author of the best post-Claremont run on the title. Grant Morrison's 'New X-Men' may have suffered at times from the use of different artists, but it was comfortably the most ambitious and enjoyable attempt to take the X-Men in a new and interesting direction. Dammit, the man even made Scott Summers interesting!

    [IMHO, YMMV etc.]

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  2. I think I saw what you're saying but forgive a lot for the depth of characterisation and astonishingly good dialogue. Perhaps I'm none too balanced since its the only comic book I read now.

    I will have a look at New X-Men now though (when I have the time) -- they've got the trades in the local library.

    But what I really didn't understand was how, given that half of X3 was based on Astonishing how the script writers could then turn out something so textually inferior.

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