Monday, July 03, 2006

X-Men 3 "Meet The B Team"

Well, I finally got around to watching X-Men 3.

I, like most X-Men fans, had severe misgivings about X3. They started filming without a complete script, and made Brett Ratner the director.

Now Brett Ratner isn’t exactly a bad director, and I’ve enjoyed some of his other films, with Rush Hour being a good example. The problem is he’s a journeyman director at best, and a film like X3 needed better.

X3 needed a director like Spielberg or Singer, not someone from the B-list.

So X3 falls into an all too familiar category. It’s not a bad film and it’s certainly not a great film…it’s what I like to call a ‘chewing gum for the eyes’ film. The kind of film you watch and say “Yeah, it was good. Not as good as I expected, though.”

You don’t feel cheated and want your money back, but you don’t really want to see it again either.

The films biggest problem is that they’ve gone for far too much shock value. I know it’s a little late in the day to worry about spoilers, but for those who haven’t seen the film, I won’t give anything specific away. Let’s just say that three of the main characters die…and I don’t mean fake-out dead either.

This means that for much of the film you’re left with two of the main characters, and a bunch of minor characters that you don’t really care about. Even the main characters have changed so much that they bear so little resemblance to the characters we’ve grown to know and love, that you don’t really care about them either.

I’ve just watched two of my favorite characters get killed off…do I really care what happens to this person I got introduced to 15 seconds ago?

Some of the minor characters, such as Ice Man, have been present since the first film, but never really had a big part to play, others are brand new introductions.

Now, if you’re an X-Men fan, the new characters should be well known to you anyway, but in a movie, you can’t suddenly drop a new character into the mix, no matter how well established the franchise is

For example, Night Crawler was introduced perfectly in X2. He had a pivotal role, and you got a lot of his back story. We were re-introduced to him, and it was like meeting an old friend. There was a reason for him to be in the story, and even if you’d never heard of X-Men before, you got to know the character.

In X3, Shadowcat just drops in from nowhere. The film starts, and she’s a fully fledged part of the X-Men team. No explanation, no back story, no nothing. You realize instantly that she’s there because with the main characters getting killed off, they need to fill out the numbers…not for any valid narrative reason.

You get the feeling X3 should have been called “X-Men 3 : Meet the B-Team”

As for the writing, I couldn’t shake the feeling that they never watched the first two movies, or had any experience of X-Men up until they started shooting. The characters look the same, but they don’t act the same. It’s like being dropped in some sort of parallel universe, where everyone seems the same, but they’re slightly different.

For example the film is based around the ‘Mutant Cure’, an injection that ‘turns off’ mutant powers.

When Storm hears about the cure she’s absolutely outraged. She waxes poetic about how mutations are not a disease, and stands absolutely and totally opposed to the cure throughout the entire film.

However, the Storm character I know doesn’t have such a limited viewpoint. Sure, if I had mutant powers like her, or one of the other characters, I wouldn’t want to give them up either. If I could walk through walls, command the weather, or be able to vanish in one spot and instantly re-appear in another, I’d want to hand on to my powers as well…but what about the other mutants who simply don’t want their powers? Take Rogue for example. Her powers stop her from touching anyone and in most respects she’s just a young girl who wants her life back. Why shouldn’t she get the ‘cure’ if she wants it?

If I had a mutation that made my skin blue and I had the power to make my fingernails grow at an amazing rate, I’d be in line for that cure in a second.

It paints Storm as a bad guy. Especially as at that point in the movie, the cure is purely voluntary. They’re not forcing anyone to take the cure, it’s just available if you want it.

So Storm has just as little right to demand that mutants stay mutants as the government has to demand that mutants give up their powers. It’s like coming up with a cure for something like dwarfism in real life. Many little people might be offended that their condition is being called a disease, and point out that just because they’re short, they are just as valid a human being as anyone. This is true, but would it be right for them to demand that no-one be allowed to take the cure?

In simplest possible terms, Storm’s standpoint is anti-choice. She’s fighting against the right for people to decide whether they want to be mutants or not.

Another point is her reaction to Jean. I won’t say anymore, but if you see the movie, you’ll understand.

Magneto is another character that seems to have multiple personality disorder. He goes through the entire movie displaying uncharacteristic compassion, followed by hugely uncharacteristic cruelty.

The whole point of Magneto is that he’s essentially the dark side of Charles Xavier. They both have almost the same goals, and just differ in what they view as acceptable to achieve them. They both work for the good of mutant-kind, only Xavier works by staying within the law and his own ethical model. They’re essentially two friends separated by an ideology.

Without wanting to give anything away, let’s just say that Magneto does and says things in this movie that the character as we know him would never do. Magneto is essentially fighting for mutant rights, but in the movie he sees other mutants as disposable. Magneto’s character is essentially ‘Mutant Rights at All Costs’. In this movie, he’s apparently only out for himself.

His character makes no sense. He uses the very people he’s apparently trying to help as cannon fodder.

As any X-Men fan knows, Magneto is not stereotypically ‘evil’. He just attempts to reach his goals by extreme means. In this movie, he might as well have a curly mustache and tie his enemies to a train-track.

Oh, and did I mention that Juggernaut actually says: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the Juggernaut, Bitch!”

Mr. Ratner, did you think you’d get points from the fans by referencing that video clip from the web? If you’re going to attempt to destroy a good movie, at least take it seriously. It’s like making a reference to the Yoda ‘hip-hop dancing’ web clip in a Star Wars movie. What’s next? Magneto telling Xavier that “All Your Base Are Belong To Us?”

No we don’t think it’s clever, we think it’s self-indulgent. Don’t use a greatly anticipated movie to show us all how ‘plugged in’ you are to pop-culture.

The whole problem with X3 is that it’s a ‘good’ movie, but it’s a good movie that should have been great. When rumor of the movies production problems reached the internet, the response from the fans all over the world was clear: We’d rather wait another couple years for a great movie than get an ‘ok’ one this year. In fact, fans almost unanimously stated that they’d rather see no X3 than a bad X3.

X3 suffered from Blockbuster syndrome. They knew that no matter how bad the reviews were, the X-Men fan base would go to see the movie anyway. Look at the Batman movies if you want to see how that goes. Things just go from bad to worse, until they essentially have to scrap the whole thing and start over.

The other big problem is that the X-Men movie ‘universe’ is now in the position were it’s going to be incredible difficult to make another good X-Men movie, at least without going the ‘Batman Begins’ route. The main and interesting characters are dead, the main villains are either dead or out of the picture…so what’s going to come next?

Trust me, unless they scrap everything and start over…the next movie is going to suck, big time.

To wrap up, I would recommend seeing X3, just don’t get your expectations up too high. It’s a ‘Sunday afternoon with nothing better to do’ movie and that’s about it.


rayray said...

I also have a quandry about a subject dealing with this movie, but I dare not post it until more readers have seen the movie.
I would, however, would like to know your thoughts on it..........

Paulius said...

Ask away. If you wanna email me, write to

Paulius said...

(In case you're wondering, yes I do know the consequences of publishing one of my email addresses...I have my reasons)