Roger Moore of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, for my money the best movie reviewer around, said in the lead of his X-Men review that it would offer the movie "faint praise." I wish I could give it more, but alas, he got it dead right.
The beauty of the X-Men franchise, to me, is the ambiguity of the lead combatants. Professor Charles Xavier is not purely good, and Magneto, though clearly a more prickly pear, was never purely evil.
And X-3, as I'll call it from here on out, sets up the perfect premise for their paths to further blur: A "cure" that will make all mutants "normal." If Brett Ratner had made a movie about how each man and their forces react to this threatening development, we would have a great wrap-up to the second-best superhero franchise (next to Spider-Man, of course.) And he almost pulled it off.
Perhaps his studio handlers got to him and whispered in his ear. Someone must have told him, "You surely can't make a Summer blockbuster about that. We need more. More mutants. More action. More, more, more!"
And that's where he gets into trouble. Concepts that would have made for their own great X-Men movie are introduced here as mere diversions, then swatted away as soon as they start to get interesting. The most egregious was the Phoenix. I don't want to turn into a comic-book geek here, partly because I'm not a very good one. But I have read many X-Men comics, and the Phoenix saga is one of the most compelling storylines in the X-Men canon; Here it is introduced and discarded in a matter of minutes.
That happens just way too many times in X-3 to make it terribly compelling. Rogue's struggle with whether to stay a mutant or take the cure? Five minutes of screen-time at best. And Angel? Why bother to give us the mutant whose father was so repulsed by him that he dedicated his life to eradicating the mutant gene from his son, and then tell us nothing else about him?
But I shouldn't get so worked up over what is, after all, a popcorn movie. And it's far from all bad here. Ratner, for all the abuse he takes, is developing a real talent for set pieces. The encounter at Jean Grey's house and the final showdown at Worthington lab were fun to watch, and clear of any of the shaky-camera hijinx that are so contagious nowadays.
And Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart just got better with each movie, especially Sir Ian. He makes Magneto such a force that you manage to forget just how silly that costume looks on such a distinguished actor. Kelsey Grammer as the Beast is also a welcome addition.
Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry, however, are just annoying. Watching Jackman's Wolverine become more and more cuddly as they set him up for his solo franchise sometime in the near future is simply sickening.
In the end, it adds up to how I'm beginning to think the rest of this summer will turn out: Not as bad as we feared, but not nearly as good as we deserve.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 2:30 PM