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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog

(OR EL DUDERINO IF YOU'RE NOT INTO THE WHOLE BREVITY THING)

-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Brief X-Men 3 Review

I saw X-Men: The Last Stand last night. I'm sure many of you have seen it already, and many others have probably written on it. So I'll just make a few brief comments.

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!

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4 Comments:

Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

My boys have all seen it twice and while the eldest complains that the story stunk, he praised everything else except the fact that nobody explained where Beast came from. His movie reviews are usually radically different from mine.

I haven't see Xmen yet so glad to read your remarks.

3:50 AM  
Blogger Emily Blake said...

I haven't seen it yet. I'm a huge fan of the X-Men so I'm afraid of the inevitable disappointment.

But I agree with you about Superman not being as interesting. I've never been a big fan of the man of steel, and I think it's because he's too perfect. His biggest character flaw is that he just cares too damn much. The X-Men, on the other hand, have all the major sins represented. They are flawed human beings. Without those well developed characters, it's just another action movie, and your review confirms what I've been hearing in that regard.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Bill Cunningham said...

As I said in my overview, I liked it, but I just didn't love it.

There just wasn't enough of mutant culture there for me - showing the freaks who want to be normal going in for the shot and being ridiculed. I would have liked the people outside the Wothington center to have looked like mutants instead of the homeless.

all in all, a movie that had its moments, but skipped a few opportunities as well.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Systemaddict said...

Being both an avid fan...and a realist...I understand what they must do to change it for the masses...that being said...they sadly missed the mark.

The addition of characters is hardly admirable.

Angel- really was useless. It seemed like a throw in- what development did he have? What real impact? nothing but filler.

Beast is actually mentioned in film 2- but still human- which was interesting. I did think he was done as well as could be expected...and well acted.

But the slaughter of 'pawns' was seemingly 1)endless 2) also useless. I think you're right, that action got in the way.

The first act was so well played and writter- thrust you into the story...but then it seemed like they just sorta waded in fights until they could end it. Were they checking their watches?

My dissapointment really lay in the set-up, because it could have been so great. The idea of a 'cure'- that choice alone had a presence...but I don't think the relished in it enough.

And...one more thing...if they made Leetch- the bearer of both the cure, and essentially the driving force behind the motivations of magneto- wouldn't it have made sense to have him at least do something? Interact more than twice?

visuals were great, acting was fine (even storm didn't bother me this round)...but it just coulda been the climax of the franchise...and it was hardly epic imo...body count doesn't mean much when you don't know 90% of them.

neat little entry after the credits though.

1:08 AM  

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