X-Men 3: The Last Dump

No, that’s not a typo in the title, that sums up my feelings about X-Men 3. If you’re just looking for a decent summer blockbuster/action flick, then you may enjoy it. But, if you are a fan of the comic book, then you’ll be better off sitting at home and watching the first two movies on DVD.
The movie has a lot of issues, the primary one being what story to focus on. For some reason that I don’t pretend to understand, the rumor has long been that this X-Men movie would be the last. Why on earth any studio would let go of a franchise that they could easily milk for another 10 or so movies (and since there are 20-something Bond movies, 9-10 Star Trek movies, and 6 Star Wars movies, its not unheard of) — especially considering any script writer for the series has 40 or so years of comic books to draw from — boggles my mind. Maybe they wanted to end on a high note?
Maybe they should wait till X-Men 4 for that…
A couple of significant events happened between X-2 and X-3 that I think had a major impact. 1) Bryan Singer, the creative force behind the first two movies, jumped ship to work on another comic book movie — Superman. 2) Singer is replaced with Brett Rattner, who did the Rush Hour movies. 3) A new X-comic came out in 2005 by Joss Whedon ( of Buffy the Vampire and Firefly/Serenity fame ) with a very compelling story about a cure for the mutant gene.
There are enough X-Men storylines, including Whedon’s, that would make a great movie and potentially be an excellent way to end the movie series. Singer hinted at the end of X-2 that we might see the Phoenix saga.
For those of you playing at home, the Phoenix saga centers around Jean Grey/Marvel Girl. She has the combined powers of telekinesis and telepathy, and is one of the most powerful mutants ever. Followng the classic concept of power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, Jean Grey is seduced/deceived by a villan, which inadvertantly unlocks her true potential. She goes nuts, and turns evil, and her teammates have to stop her.
There are a couple of variations from the original story, but in the end of the original, she pays for her crimes with her life.
Anyway, I digress. The Phoenix saga is regarded as one of the best X-Men storylines in its history. So, it would have been a great story to do in X-3.
But, somewhere along the line, someone decided that if one of these stories are great, then if we combine three of them together in the same movie, it’d be absolutely spectacular!!! Lets mix the mutant gene story with Phoenix, and oh yeah, let’s have Magneto threaten mankind again. That would make an uber story that would make the fanboys thrilled to see all three stories in the same movie.
At least, in theory…
The reality is that X-3 becomes a movie that bounces back and forth between three separate stories, making it feel disjointed. It also feels as if they primary focus is the grand battle at the end, and everything leading up to it is simply there to throw enough of a back story in front of you before moving you along to the next stop on the express train to the end of the movie.
The movie has some good action sequences, and it does introduce us to some more of the main X-Men. Kelsey Grammer is an excellent choice as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast, and the girl that plays Kitty Pryde doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but she looks exactly like her comic book counterpart.
There are a lot of ‘deaths’ in the movie, a couple are not surprising, but the others are. One of the characters is killed off simply to show us that another character has ‘gone bad.’
But the mixture of the stories never really takes hold. The movie follows one story for a while, then swtiches to the next, then goes to the third. In the end, two of the stories are wrapped up, and then the movie goes into ‘oh yeah’ mode, remembering at the last minute that there’s still this other issue to resolve.
Realy, what they should have done was forget about only doing three movies. They should have spent this one doing the Phoenix saga, and then use X-4 to cover the mutant ‘cure’ story. Both would have made excellent movies in their own right.
Instead, we get the mess that is X-Men: the Last Stand. I’d blame it on Rattner, but I don’t think he did a bad job with the movie. The movie was in trouble long before he got on board.
But, it’s clear that the movie was created by someone who wasn’t a fan.
To me, it’s the most challenging thing about making a comic book movie, and why some of them work while others not.
Spider-Man (1 & 2 & probably 3), X-Men (1 & 2) and Batman Begins were all excellent movies because the directors behind the movies were all fans of the comics. They work dilligently to preserve these characters when they make the leap from the comic book page to the screen.
All of the other movies don’t work for any number of reasons, but one of the main ones has to do with directors having no background or personal interest in the characters. Just look at some of the other comic book movies — Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Elektra, Hellboy, Hulk, Constantine, etc.
Maybe the studio will change its mind and do an X-4. I’d hate to see the series end with this one.

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