A Rambling Review of
X-Men: The Last Stand
It was May 2003 and I was walking out of a theater after seeing X2. I was ecstatic. I had just seen one of the best films made from a comic strip ever and they hinted at a grander sequel. They were going to tackle the infamous 'Dark Phoenix' saga, a tale that turns the loveable and amiable Jean Grey into a horrible and unstoppable mass murderer. I could not be happier or more excited. How long would I have to wait? I knew that it would take a while but after the second movie how could they mess up. The characters were dead on, just the right amount of cheekiness mixed in with real human emotion set in a world with mutants that had amazing power. As long as they took the time to tackle it they could have the best movie ever.
X-Men: The Last Stand. It finally came. The box they packaged it in sure was shiny. That should have been my first sign something was wrong. Never being one to pick up on signs I took no notice of these ones. Even when I learned that the director was somebody new I did not worry. I am too optimistic sometimes. The new director was Brett Ratner; he was the director of both Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 and apparently the impending Rush Hour 3. Bryan Singer the director of the first two X-Men titles ran off to play with Superman and Brett took over the reins of the hugely ambitious storyline of X3. The fan boys (a cute pet name for the die hard comic book dorks that could tell you everything that has happened in the comic book world but can't tell you if they will ever date) were up in arms apparently. Brett Ratner knew that he had a huge story in his hands and it was his to destroy, so he did what any good director and non-comic enthusiast would do. He added characters and I mean a lot of them. There are so many characters in this film that it's ridiculous. They even had to get Frasier Crane to play one of them, that's how many characters there were! I mean Frasier Crane! All these characters and yet he forgot that he needed a character driven plot. Instead he focused on having Magneto leer and Wolverine slash. Everyone else stood around. They introduced one of the coolest X-men characters into the film, Angel. In the comic books he is a Greek god; amazingly powerful and graceful in flight. In the movie he looks like the blond dorky kid (Anthony Michael Hall) from Weird Science, Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles fame. Great casting.
So our little Dark Phoenix, aka, Famke Janssen, how was she? Well I could not tell if she read the script or not. She spent most of the time alternating between looking confused and looking apathetic. When she was supposed to be really upset about something she kind of looked like she suffered from constipation. So her acting consisted of her looking constipated while the special effects department tried to make something cool happen or a blank stare as people tried to interact with her. What about Wolverine, he was slash happy so that is good right? It should have been. Hugh Jackman had put in a decent Wolverine act in the previous movies so he had it down right? Not really a lot of the jokes he delivered were jokes you could have seen Wolvie say but the delivery wasn't quite right. He seemed happy go lucky and it just didn't feel right to me.
So I hated the movie... but I also enjoyed it. I made myself watch it for what it was. A light hearted romp through one of the best and most shockingly grim comic book tales ever layed out in the X-men comic books. I let myself enjoy the computer graphics. With no character story what else was there. I enjoyed seeing Magneto move the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz. I enjoyed the effect that the Phoenix had on the people as she some how turned them into ash and disbursed them into the swirling air. How she was like an atom bomb always about to go off or a girl that really needed ex-lax; that when you stop and think about it might be one and the same. I let go of the fact that what I like about comics is that these characters have lives that go on even during the fights. That they worry about never embracing their loved ones ever again as they try to crawl out of the rubble of a collapsed building. Or that they get a choice between saving that loved one from death or saving the world. I love that when it's all over and they win they still have to go home and face whatever they had left behind to save the city. Whether it is a painful separation, a loved ones death, increasingly unpayable bills or just the fact that they are so different and alienated from the world. I let myself forget and forgive Ratner for not telling the story right. For taking a great epic tale and turning it into a package of Pop Rocks, all fizz and pop and no relevance and no story. I even allowed myself to not feel robbed by the emotionless final scene on the battlefield as someone made a sacrifice that went against his heart and his own emotions. I allowed myself to enjoy a total failure but when I tried to review it all I can remember it as is a step backward. So that is what I will call it a step backward and a computer generated pile of poo. It lacked story and substance but wow did it look pretty. Well maybe not Famke's Dye job.
Was it a good movie? No. Would I see it again? Maybe. Could it have been better? Infintely. My rating: See it but don't expect to like it if you have ever enjoyed a comic book or one of the previous movies.
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