Monday, May 29, 2006

Oh My Stars And Garters

So yeah, a little movie called X-Men 3 is out. Setting all kinds of Memorial Day box office records. I’ve seen it myself, and I’ve gotta admit, I’m torn. It wasn’t a bad movie as far as movies go. There was lots of action and explosions and mutant powers all over the place, but…
I came out of the movie feeling divided. Half of the plot/story/movie I really enjoyed, and half of it I absolutely hated. The good news: Ian McKellan’s Magneto is still a spot on charismatic yet ruthless villain. He’s still brilliant, and everything he says is gold. And they really let him go wild with his powers. Patrick Stewart is still the definitive Professor X, but he’s given less to do in this film. Hugh Jackman still owns the Wolverine part, but later on things get odd with him. I really enjoyed the Beast in the film. Much more than I expected to. Kelsey Grammer did an excellent job with him. The FX were also really, really good and there was lots of it, and there were a lot of fun little moments that brought a smile to my face.
But… (and I’ve been using those three dots a lot in connection with this movie) there was a lot of stuff in the movie that just felt off/wrong/dumb. The whole “Phoenix” plot I felt was completely mishandled and basically botched. Not good, considering that’s considered one of the best X-Men stories ever. Cyclops doesn’t do much at all in the movie, and Jean Grey kind of wanders around in a daze wearing a mopey/angry expression most of the time. A storyline that easily could’ve made a great movie in itself was completely wasted by being jammed into this one. But…the ending of X-2 kind of shoehorned the Phoneix storyline into this movie. The Cyclops stuff really did piss me off though, since he’s been my favorite mutant since forever, and I think that he’s just been completely mishandled in the movies anyway, but this was just a stupid use for him (and one that cripples the Phoenix plotline in the movie too). Halle Berry as Storm is still dull, dull, dull to watch. I didn’t mind her in X-1, I liked her in X-2, for some reason, I couldn’t stand her performance in this movie. And her haircut just made me giggle. Wolverine. Remember I said I liked Jackman’s portrayal, but the way the storyline panned out, they were giving him lines that were completely out of character. By the end of the movie I was sitting there thinking “Great, they’re writing Wolverine as Cyclops now. They why do (spoiler) to Cyclops?” Rogue disappears for most of the movie after being involved in a weakly played out love triangle that didn’t get enough time to develop. There’s not enough Colossus, though we do get the fastball special. Shadowcat’s just kind of there. Iceman has some great moments but is also underused. Oh yeah, and there’s no explanation for why Nightcrawler’s missing. They just never mention him. Juggernaut is not nearly the threat he should be, getting used for laughs instead of the unstoppable force he should be. Angel was barely in it, so I’ll barely mention him.
I’ll repeat. There were a lot of great little moments in the film. Unfortunately, there were a lot more big moments that fell flat for me, as both story afficionado and fanboy. The “Cure” plotline was great, and would’ve made for a great movie in itself that built up from the previous two. The “Phoenix” plotline should’ve gotten the full movie treatment it deserved and not been shoved in just because. The movie was rushed into production by the studio, changed directors at least once and is overall the weakest installment of the three X-Men movies. Its not a franchise killer like Batman & Robin. There are no rubber nipples in sight, but still, the X Movie franchise is starting to wobble disconcertingly. Of course if things go really south for them, they could just do what the new Superman movie is doing. Ignoring Superman 3 & 4 like they never happened. And a retcon (comic industry term) like that is probably the best chance we have of getting a Good Phoenix Saga movie.

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