Sunday, May 28, 2006

Review: X3: The Last Stand


We caught a 5:30 matinee of the new X-Men movie last night, and though my expectations were high, perhaps higher than they should have been, I did not walk away disappointed.

While the movie did not reach the considerably lofty heights of X2, or even the first X-Men movie, it did deliver much of the same action, characterization, and social commentary that made the first two movies successful. The concept of a mutant cure was clever enough to believably divide the mutants againt each other once again without feeling contrived. The actors delivered consistent, if not exceptional performances - Jackman's Wolverine still satisfied with his usual brusque who-gives-a-fuck attitude, and though Patrick Stewart has clearly aged, he is still the only actor alive who could play Charles Xavier. Though the movie suffered without Alan Cumming's Nightcrawler, Halle Barry's increased role as Storm was a pleasant addition to the cast. The movie also delivered its fair share of satisfying action and special effects, the standard by which mainstream superhero movies are measured these days, including a very impressive battle scene at Jean Grey's childhood house and of course the awesome climax scene with the Golden Gate Bridge which, thankfully, was not ruined by the previews as I had initially suspected.

The movie was not without its faults, however. One complaint that was shared by my wife and brother was that the new characters introduced in this third chapter seemed thrown into the mix without any real fleshed out backstory. Warren Worthingon III's discovery of his mutant powers and the conflict with his father, the inventor of the mutunt cure, while ripe with dramatic potential, was mishandled and mostly ignored, until almost at random, the Angel appears out of nowhere at the end of the movie to deliver typical last minute heroics. Similarly, the Beast, brilliantly played by Kelsey Grammar, was given no context in terms of his connection to the X-Men, or Charles Xavier, nor was it explained how such a mutant could have ascended to the top levels of government. Colossus, another character I think many people were excited about having a bigger role in this movie, was unfortunately relegated once again to the background. But perhaps the movie's biggest flaw was the mishandling of Jean Grey's character. The script did a poor job of explaining Jean's transformation into the Phoenix to those unfamiliar with comic book continuity, nor was it clear exactly what caused Jean to turn evil, or what her powers were.

Still, overall, the movie was enjoyable, the action well choreographed, the humor spot on without feeling forced or overdone, and the audience was satisfied, breaking into applause at the rolling of the credits.

1 comment:

ADD said...

Hey Marc,

Good review, and I mostly agree, although I have to disagree about the Jean/Phonenix element. The script made it clear that Phoenix was a supressed personality that had always been there, but Xavier had created mental blocks to keep her wild side, evident even in the scene with Jean as a young girl, at bay.

When Jean was reborn after being saved in a cocoon created by her own powers, Charles tried to re-establish the blocks, but Logan's interference prevented him from completing the job, and Phoenix took over.

Sure, it's a divergent continuity from the comics, but I think it was explained pretty well.

My biggest disappointment was wasting Bill Duke as Bolivar Trask and the big tease of the Sentinel from the trailer that amounted to exactly nothing in the film, just a Danger Room illusion.