Brief X-Men 3 Review
Minor Spoiler Warning
So, I liked the film, but not as much as either of the first two. For me, what made the first two such great films, and among the best superhero movies ever made, in my opinion, was their blend of excellent action, eye-popping but artfully executed special effects, and complex characterization.
In particular, that last ingredient raised the first two films above standard superhero fare. Without that, they would have remained above average, due to their supremacy in the first two ingredients. But it was the characterization which made them transcend the genre.
This third installment falls short on that front, as I see it. While still full of intriguing characters, and some pleasing character reversals and surprises, this film seems to keep its characters at arm's length, where the first two really dug into them. In particular, I felt that Jean's transformation was too cartoonish overall, as was Wolverine's relationship with her. And since this is so central to the film overall, the film suffers for its failure.
In short, I actually blame this on too much action. Every time the film had the chance to delve a bit into the characters, it quickly dropped these scenes and cut to another action sequence. And even those action sequences didn't always work as well as they could have. In particular, the final battle on Alcatraz coul have been much stronger. When Magneto sends his "pawns" out, I'd have loved to see just a few more hints of some of their distinct powers. Instead, it is just a wave of people running and being cut down by Wolverine and the like. The only one you actually see is the guy whose arms keep growing back as soon as Wolverine cuts them off. (Though the Indiana Jones type win in that bit is funny.)
I'm not familiar enough with the work of either Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn, or David Hayter to judge if the differences are unique to their respective work, but I think at least in part the directors are largely responsible. I think this is largely the difference between the Bryan Singer mindset, and that of Brett Ratner. Ratner is all about the action, and Singer has always brought at least a bit of characterization to all of his films. I'm not a massive Singer fan, but I do respect much of his work. Ironically, Superman Returns doesn't really interest me much, while this X-Men film did.
Still, overall I must say I thoroughly enjoyed X3. I thought it introduced a few more cool mutants. Some of the new mutants not only had fun powers, but were played by actors who were well-cast and interesting to look at. And the effects were still top-notch. So as I said, it remains a superlative example of the genre. Just not as good as the first two.
And by the way, for those of you who haven't already heard, there is a little scene after the credits that is worth sticking around for. And if you already saw the movie, and didn't see that scene, you're welcome to email and I'll tell you what you missed!
Tags: X-Men+The+Last+Stand, movie+review