Saturday, June 10, 2006

The New Yorker remerges and finally puts in her two cents on X-Men 3

Yes, I'm still alive believe it or not. I know my absence has been longer than usual, but I’ve just started a new job and it’s been fairly time consuming thus far.

At this point in time, an in depth analysis of X Men 3 is probably pointless and beyond my capacity. But I will say this. I fall on the half of the population that enjoyed X-Men 3 The Last Stand. Now I realize that the constituency of people in my life are geekier than the general public, but the resounding chorus of those around me was that it was none too good.

Here's the thing. I've always enjoyed the X-Men films, but I’ve never thought they were particularly outstanding. Certainly in the realm of the comic book and super hero films, I don't think that either of the first two eclipsed Spiderman 2, Batman Begins, or the first two of Burton's Batman films. The X-Men movies are the sort that I really enjoy when I’m in the theatre, but will probably never think of again.

I’ve heard all sorts of complaints about this third flick – that there was no character development, that they killed off too many of the characters, that the script was cheesy and the FX looked bad. Let me attempt to sift through these one by one. I will agree with the character development gripe. Both Kitty Pryde and Angel were introduced in this third film, but neither one of them was given a lot of specific background and story arc. (Actually a different actress played Kitty Pryde in the X2, but if memory serves me correct, her role was fairly minimal..) We knew that Angel had a conflict with his father about his mutation, but that was about it. It would have been nice to see a little more of his internal struggle, as well as what it was that he enjoyed about his sparking white wings. As for Kitty Pryde, all she really did was look exceedingly young (was it just me, or did the actress who played her look about 12?) and share longing looks with Ice Man. HOWEVER, the inherent problem with X-Men in general, I think, is that there are just too many darn main characters to deal with within the constraints of a single feature film. The X-Men films could never do justice to a character the way Donner’s film did to Superman or Raimi’s film(s) did to Spiderman. The closest its come to really paying homage to a character is with Wolverine. The X-Men animated series, made more sense than the feature projects in certain ways, because at least it allotted more time for exploration of these characters. (This is also why the comics are so good, you get to see these heroes revealed over a course of several issues.) The other thing I would argue in regards to the character development, though I realize it’s a bit specious, is that the first two films were able to do most of the heavy lifting. They had already set up most of what we needed to know for the lynchpins of the series such as Wolverine, Dr. X, Jean Gray, etc. So, the filmmakers probably thought they could get away with less exposition in the third installment.

If you haven’t seen X-Men 3 by now, you’re either not going to or you’re going to watch it apathetically on cable. So here come they spoilers. In this chapter of our heroes, Dr. X, Cyclops and Jean Grey/Phoenix are all killed. Some people thought this was pointless, but I thought it was ballsy on their part. It raised the stakes of the game, and actually added some real surprises. And when was the last time a big summer movie actually took you off guard? I couldn’t believe that they actually waxed poor Xaviar-Picard. I did, however, think the tag ending with him speaking out of the body of the brain dead man was silly. I mean, after all, wasn’t this the last stand? Now suddenly Xavier could be alive and Magneto might get his powers back? Come on Fox, stick to your guns.

As for the complaints on the “cheesy script” I hear by present exhibit A.

“Do you know what happens to a toad when it gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.”

Anyone remember this line? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Since when have the X-Men films been the pinnacle of screenwriting. Never, as far as I can remember. Even the second film, which many fans consider to be the best of the trilogy, had its flaws. Deathstrike was cool and everything, but did we ever really “delve” into her character, and did she get much of a set up? Not really. In fact, the only thing I can really remember about the second film was Alan Cumming’s Nightcrawler, which was an exceptionally interesting character.

These movies have always been good summer movie fun, and truly a cut above the rest. I will agree that this was probably my least favorite of the trilogy, but I really didn’t think it was without merit. The main storyline, involving the mutant “cure” was apparently lifted from Joss Whedon’s X-Men comic continuity, and it was compelling. I liked the Jean Grey/Phoenix storyline, and the final resolution between her and Wolverine. The scene where she was going nuts at the end, and the water behind her was spiraling into the air looked amazing. I loved Wolverine’s final crawl to her as his mutant bio-mechanisms fought against the disintegration caused by Jean’s powers. Sure I would have liked to see more of Rogue, but at least we could count on Halle Berry’s performance to be as solidly mediocre as it was in the first two.


Blogger Mike said...

I'm with you. I thought the entire last fight sequence on Alcatraz was pretty stunning and exciting and I was duly impressed by the way they captured Beast. I saw it with a friend who commented "I don't get it. What does Beast do?" Then he saw him fight and said "Oh, I get it. His power is that he's a badass."

Also (and I kind of feel like Comic Book Guy here), but did you mean to keep referring to Professor X as Dr. X?

10:04 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Whoops, brain fart. Just fixed it.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Daddy Background said...

Yeah. I missed Nightcrawler.

Funny thing, Scott's death was so low-key that I kept waiting for him to re-appear through the movie. I never really got that he was dead. Where was the corpus delecti? Maybe me just slow.

I can't say a word against Kitty Pride since she is a home town gal (from way out here in "Halliwood"). All the local papers used the publicity shots she was in.

Same as Kitty (and I had to point out to a Toronto Sun scribe when they announced it) the role of Beast had been populated by another actor as well in X2. Kelsey Grammar is just the Hank-come-lately. (Steve Bacic is the winning trivia answer; here's the copy that I helped correct, he said, proudly).

Anyone read "I Will Fear No Evil" from Robert Heinlein?

So Professor Xavier AND Jean Grey wake up together as two minds inside the same formerly brain-dead body.

There. You've got your head start on X4.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I like it. They both wake up inside the dead guy and it turns into a hilarious mutant comedy, a la "All of Me."

8:44 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

I'd like to see a Hello Again take myself....

9:37 AM  

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