X-Men 3: The Last Stand

(X-Men 3: The Last Stand)

WOLVERINE DIES.

Cyke. Just kidding. Seriously though, if you don’t want spoilers go the fuck away. You know better that to be on the internet if you don’t want spoilers.

People have been asking me since it came out what I thought of it. I’m flattered, in one sense, because if you know me then you know I love it when people want to hear my opinion, rather than sit back and let me force my opinion upon them unsolicited. The other sense, because as a relative comics X-pert, my X-pertise is in X-Men.

I’m sorry. X-puns are completely un-X-warranted. I’ll keep them to an X-Minimum.

I’m gonna go ahead and relay my experiences you as they pertain to this movie as they come to me. Mainly because that’s all I seem able to do what with the brain frazzle and the I hate summer classes even if they are on cool things like comics and American music.

I went home memorial day weekend to visit my folks, since I wasn’t able to come home to see Mom or my Stepmom (or any of my grammas and stepgramma) for Mother’s Day. I had a good time. Having a bad time on Memorial Day weekend is treason punishable by death. Mom and I went to see X3, because she’s a sci-fi fan herself and while not a comic book reader has a good interest in things of the X-persuasion. But we went to a really nice theater, with little to no movie-idiot presence on this particular Sunday evening.

The trailers were pretty sweet. Ghost Rider looks totally badass, and I can’t wait to see what Nicholas Cage (a guy who wears his fandom on his sleeve… and his son) will do with the character. Superman Returns looks badass if only for the reason that Kevin Spacey can do anything. And then… then there was the Snakes on a Plane trailer.

This chick sitting behind me and I were flipping out over it. When we realized that, yes: Someone who knows of SoP is nearby, we hastily made for the high fives and the hearty shoutings of various things involving Snakes, A, Planes, Motherfucking, and On. My mother stared at me quizzically. The exchange went like this…

Mom: “That’s what the movie’s called?”
Me: “Yup. Snakes on a Plane.”
Mom: “What’s it about?”
Me: “It’s about Snakes on a Plane.”
Mom: “…”
Me: “A terrorist time-releases crates of snakes on an airplane to kill some guy.”
Mom: “Uh huh.”

She then stared at me with a sideways glance. That’s OK. She just doesn’t get it.

The movie started, and I watched as objectively as I could. I noticed the lack of an opening monologue in favor of two opening flashbacks. Which were both interesting. Angel’s was pretty powerful for me; I haven’t seen a young lad act that well in a while.

Kelsey Grammar as Beast is a flawless choice. As flawless as Stuart for Xavier and MacKellen for Magneto. He did an above admirable job with every moment of screen time he was given.

Xavier’s death was pretty scary. I jumped a foot in the air out my seat when he went all ’splody. Don’t really think it was all that necessary, but Xavier’s died once or twice in the books already, I think. So I’m willing to overlook it.

Vinnie Jones as The Juggernaut was well done as well. He carried the character well. And the line… the line. When Vinnie said, “Don’t you know who I am?” I shouted “I’m the Juggernaut, Bitch!” And then Vinnie promptly shouted, “I’m the Juggernaut, Bitch!” I gotta say, I flipped my fucking lid. I was glad they inserted such an inside, inside joke.

They cut out the facts that Juggy’s not a mutant and Juggy is Prof. X’s step-brother. Which… is permissible to me. At least for the sake of the movie. It’s one thing to fuck up The Juggernaut, who played the role of disposable strength-villain long throughout his existence as a character. It’s another to fuck up major character plots that are far and beyond essential to who they are.

Speaking of which.

I was decidedly unhappy with the ending of the movie. The way Dark Phoenix was disposed of. By Wolverine.

See, here’s the thing, for non-X’ers, as best as I can sum up (so if there are errors, please forgive, and go read the Wikipedia Entry about it): The Phoenix, itself, is a cosmic entity that found its host in Jean Grey as she sacrificed her own life to ensure her fellow X-Men would survive in their burning, crashing space shuttle. Not too unlike the ending of X2. She then flew out of the Hudson (I think they landed in the Hudson, don’t quote me on that) loudly proclaiming her Phoenixity, and then there followed the saga of the Phoenix and the X-Men’s cosmic adventures saving the Shi’ar race from the evil usurper of the throne, D’Ken, utilizing the forbidden power of the M’Krahn Crystal BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Shortly thereafter, Jean became more and more… fulfilled by her newfound limitless power. She gradually became the Dark Phoenix, bent on destruction and infernos and making things really hot and on fire. She would later be hypnotized by Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind, one of the original X-Villains, and the basis for the wheelchair-bound Jason in X2), and brought into the Hellfire Club as the Black Queen. This worked for a little while, until the X-Men busted in and promptly ruined their shit (most notably, the first display of Wolverine’s full-on kill-every-dude-around Beserker Rage). Jean as Dark Phoenix broke free of Mastermind’s control and roasted him and the rest of the Hellfire club. Then, she turned her attention on the X-Men and began throwing lots of fire at them.

The only one who was able to bring her down from the whole “I want to murder everyone’s souls” thing was Cyclops. Because of that whole Soul Mate thing. Y’know, true love and all that.

Yeah. There really wasn’t any good reason to leave that part out. Sure, Wolverine is the audience favorite. But while Wolverine is the best at what he does, he doesn’t always get what he wants. Which is why Cyclops is able to rescue her from madness and he isn’t. Because she loves Scott. And that love triangle, where Scott always wins, has been a really essential part of the whole X-Saga all together.

Scott’s death, in the beginning of the movie, was beyond dismissive. He died in the first fifteen fucking minutes, man. That kind of early death is the kind of early death that would lead you to expect that he would return in the end and save the day. By the end of the movie, you’re left wondering “Why the fuck did they just off Cyclops like that?”

Well, I don’t know why. I don’t know if that’s what Bryan had in mind when he was conceiving it (I would hope not), or if that was what the studio decided because Wolverine’s more popular. I could speculate all day, but that would prove pretty pointless. The point, since I should be getting to one sooner or later, is that Cyclops coming in at the end and saving the day would not only have been the most logical direction for the story to go, but the better choice. It would involve a couple less X-Deaths (of which there is a staggering amount in X3).

And seriously, how much better of a tragic ending would it have been if Cyclops had to kill her? The woman he loves, the woman he previously thought dead? And he would have to blow a hole through her chest. I don’t even think he’d let anyone else do it. That would be a testament to both his love for Jean, and his leadershiply resolve. And made him a stronger character. And I think, a stronger story.

But, to clarify, I don’t hate the ending of X3. It’s an interesting take, and not the way I would’ve gone. And, if we’re willing to call the movieverse an alternate universe, then sure. It’d work. So I’m dissatisfied. But not like, rabid fanboy angry or anything.
Beyond the questionable ending, the movie’s presentation was eye-poppingly badass in the combat sequences. Ratner really knows how to make powers come alive on the screen, something I think Bryan wasn’t as strong in. The acting was a bit ham-fisted on everyone’s parts but that, too, is excusable. I’ve been hearing a lot of comparisons saying that X3 is similar to Return of the Jedi. I very much agree. And as an end cap for a movie trilogy, it works.

Ratner, I think, did as best as he could to keep Singer’s vision intact. He was signed on to the project only seven weeks before shooting, and the studio rushed the production to get it done before Superman Returns comes out to spite Singer (which is beyond petty, but that’s Hollywood). The other thing to keep in mind in that department is that Ratner doesn’t quite have the same “Creative Clout” that Singer has. If Singer fights for a directorial choice, odds are he’ll get it. Because he’s known for his great vision and creativity. If Ratner fights for a directorial choice, he’s likely not going to get it. Because he’s not known for his creativity, he’s known for making blockbusters that make good bank. So, I feel Ratner did the best he could, given the circumstances. Something also tells me that there’s a bunch of footage the studio took out to make it shorter (for whatever goddamned reason), so I expect an extended director’s cut to come to DVD in a year or two.

To sum up, X-Men 3 had a ham-fisted and mangled story, but a badass and enthralling presentation.

Verdict? Just as good as I expected.

(There’s a lot more details I have thoughts on, that can come out in discussion. I’ve said the things that I think need saying the most.)

9 Responses to “X-Men 3: The Last Stand”

  1. Blue says:

    Actually, the movie is done off of a TOTALLY DIFFERENT SCRIPT than the one Singer was going to shoot. Soooooooo… not so much his vision.

    But I will not dump on it because I have not seen it yet. Not precisely eager to, though… ever since Singer left, every preview of X3 I stared at the screen and whispered “Don’t suck, PLEASE don’t suck.” We’ll see. ::sigh::

  2. Phil Kahn says:

    AUGH! You shouldn’t have read this review if you haven’t seen it yet!

    I WARNED YOU OF THE SPOILERS I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY.

  3. Heather K says:

    Oh Phily… I LOVE YOU FOREVER AND EVERS!!!

    Yeah.. I needed someone with way more experience having a critical eye for movies to give a review of this one, because I had a really hard time narrowing down what it was about it that had me so disappointed..

    Cause yeah.. I was hoping for something that SOMEWHAT RESEMBLED the X-men story… >_

  4. Starline says:

    Did you wait ’til after the credits? There was an extra scene.

  5. Phil Kahn says:

    I certainly did. It was interesting, because it raised all sorts of new ethical questions.

  6. Andrew says:

    I’m an old Avengers fan, so seeing Beast done right (and getting an “Oh my stars and garters”) was a real treat.

    The reason Cyclops got little more than an extended cameo this time out is because Singer tapped him for the role of “Richard White” in Superman Returns.

  7. Mr Myth says:

    Agree on all counts. I mean, Wolverine was once upon a time my absolute favorite X-Character…. but I was wigged out by how much the movie centered around him.

    Even Storm got shafted beside him – in every battle he’s the one leading the team, giving the orders. “Look, not only has Logan figured out how to be a team player, but he’ll be the one telling you how to defeat the bad guy! Quick storm, make some mist while we go do awesome stuff!”

    What impressed me about the movie was that in-spite of the story pissing me off, I enjoyed the entire film. For all that I didn’t like what they did with the plot, they pulled off a fun production, and it definitely could have been worse.

  8. Manny says:

    I agree with the idea that Bret did the best he could, I liked the movie overall, but it just didn’t have the depth that the previous two had…the biggest things that annoyed me were the number of characters being killed off, and Nightcrawler’s missing in action. I liked the way that the Dark Phoenix was portrayed, but I think she could have been more developed as a character, and it would have been cool if she did her freaky fire thing…

  9. NogginDew says:

    Yeh, solike, I love reading reviews. I’m one of the few people who’ll actually go onto a forum and readilly read a WALL O’ TEXT if I know the writer has something to say.

    In any case, you seem to take movies the same way I do. I take movies for movies. I /never/ see a movie in hopes that it’ll follow the plot of it’s original story. Ever. X-3, messed up in the plot department real bad, but that’s okay. Cuz all around, like you, I found it to be full of badassery in all the places that count in movies. (And yes, I LOVED Beast. XD “Well, you don’t shed on the furniture.”)

    More reviews! More reviews! =D