Saturday, May 27, 2006

Movie Review - X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Now, as some of you will know I regularly write DVD reviews for our North Scotland, North Devon, Hull, Lincolnshire, Scunthorpe, Stoke, Essex, Grimsby (etc., etc.) sites, and print the unedited versions here. I've never been moved to write a review independently on a current release before. This evening, after a year of fanboy expectation, I saw X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Here is my review...

NB: CONTAINS WOPPIN' GREAT SPOILERS

Oh, my, word. The X-Men, those mutant heroes sworn to defend man and mutant in a world that hates and fears them, are back! Wooo-hoo! This time, with the help of Beast and Angel, they have to face evolution itself in the form of their former team-mate Jean Grey (Phoenix), plus Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants! And so, 10 of us assembled at the Showcase in Derby this evening, with baited breath...

Now I am an X-Geek. I've been reading X-men since I was 6, seriously since I was 14. I'm not a collector I'm a reader. Stan is my god. Claremont is the new messiah. Naturally, I was hoping for certain things. I wanted Sentinels, the Danger Room, Gambit, Skrull, a Colossus/Patch fast-ball-special, Lockheed, and a million impossible icons I knew I was never going to get. My expectation was that it was going to be pants, but that I could at least play 'spot-the-mutie', eat some popcorn, and revel in the genius of fine Shakespearian actors like Patrick Stewart (X) and Ian McKellan (homo superior himself) as Magneto.

Basically, and uncharacteristically, I was right.

Now that Ratner is directing, that certain X-factor has gone. The movie is, in short, something of an uninspiring and over plotted mess compared to the gritty world of moody atmospherics and emotional weight that Singer and his crew has already brought us.

Ratner fails to make the audience connect. Recurrent x-themes of division, alienation, responsibility, discrimination and even (dare I say) terrorisum, are lost in a blaze of throwaway CGI and star gratification. While watching, I was left with the sensation that certain cuts made it to the final edit through lack of coverage rather than preferred performance. I found I felt genuine pity for the likes of Sir Ian, forced to drag the performances of his Brotherhood, kicking and screaming, out of mediocrity. Aaron Stanford (Pyro) and Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut) are simply dreadful.


Noted additions were the performance of Ellen Page and the characterisation of Kitty Pride, who carried the roll beautifully and sympathetically. Kelsey Grammer (while undeniably Frasier Crane) was the perfect piece of casting I hoped for. He was, in all ways, Beast, and his witty asides and unexplored inner turmoil carried the theme of the piece, if ignored by the raging hodgepodge around it.

There was some beautiful CGI, when used sympathetically, truly beautiful. The score swelled across my senses as Magneto ripped the Brooklyn Bridge from its foundations and turned the planets magnetic field against these pitiful homo sapiens. Wolverine howled as the flesh was stripped down to his
Adamantium bones as he faced Phoenix, pressing forwards against the fire and pain towards the woman he loved. But, a truck load of fanboy masturbation and computer generated moments do not a quality motion picture make. It helps, but it doesn't.

Do not expect this to reflect the things you love in the X/Marvel Universe. Angel is an unaffiliated newcomer. Nice potential plot points such as Juggernauts immunity to the mutant crippling serum (due to his powers being magical in nature), Jeans love for Scott preventing her tipping over the brink, and the involvement of the Shi'ar Empire could simply not be explored in this format and so fell flat for me as long-term fan. Was I asking too much? Perhaps?

Still there was some nice character 'bits', but they were few. Storm actually using her powers, Wolverine teaching in the Danger Room, Multiple Man playing the 1 man army, and Eric's reaction to the 'demise' of Mystique are snippets of rare joy. Keep watching too, there's a nice little bit after the credits worth hanging about for.

I have been able to forgive the breaches of X-trivia in, and thoroughly enjoyed, the previous 2 movies, but I could not find it in myself to excuse this recent attempt by a far more naive director and such a lank-lustre supporting cast. Despite some 'lovely bits'.

I was looking forward to discussing the film afterwards with a fellow x-geek who saw it with us, but on exiting the cinema she was taken physically ill and had to go home and bitch about it on the message boards of SuperHeroHype instead. I'm sure we'll catch up and weep into strong alcohol in the very near future.

X-Men: The Last Stand took in nearly $45 million on Friday to become the 2nd largest opening movie ever, just behind Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, according to FOX News. Sounds good on the surface, doesn't it? This probably means we're going to have another half dozen of them, maybe a Magneto or an Emma Frost movie, no doubt progressively worse...

Movie: 2.5 out of 5

Lets pray it was worth sacrificing Singer for a really good Superman.

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