Friday, May 26, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Where do I begin? I'll start off by saying that X-2: X-Men United is still my favorite superhero movie. There was more time spent with fewer new characters, and a clear focus. Plus the hints of Dark Phoenix were cooler than the realization in the new movie. That being said, X-Men: The Last Stand doesn't exactly suck. It's actually good. My expectations going in were extremely high, so I'm not surprised that they weren't met (even though they were with X-2), but this movie just wasn't very spectacular. There were spectacular scenes (though very few), like that of Phoenix after she goes back to her home growing up and confronts Xavier, and some action scenes were executed near perfectly (Kitty vs. Juggernaut in their race to get to Leech first), but overall, things were sort of bland. Particularly the climax. It just didn't pay things off. It needed to be much more spectacular than it was. We needed to spend more time with the characters up to that point to care about what was going down.

All-in-all, they should have paired the story down a bit. Characters thrown in like Arclight and Madrox didn't exactly hurt the film, but they didn't really add to it either. My big gripe was that the cure and the phoenix arc were just too big to be in the picture together. Particularly Phoenix, who just kind of stood around a lot this movie. She didn't have focus, we didn't love her and care that she dies. Then again, cool things thrown in include The Danger Room and the hat-tip to Days of Future Past, which were really cool, and served as a cool psyche-out after the words "in the not-too-distant future" appeared, before we remember that that's how all of the X-Men movies begin "the present."

I really liked the theme of abortion when it came to Rogue, who was debating getting the cure (Logan asks if she's doing it for the guy, she's waiting in line while a crowd screams not to get it done, etc), however the fact that she actually got it in the end was kind of a slap in the face to that character. I kind of wish Bobby had left her then and there to be with Kitty. That would have made it a little more interesting at least, and gone with Storm's braver outlook. It was a lame end for Rogue's arc, seen immediately after another female character (Jean Grey) is overwhelmed by her power. I imagine the film would have been a lot cooler and more interesting if a feminist like Joss Whedon had taken the helm.

Another character who wasn't served well this time around was Mystique. She's had such an interesting philosophy throughout the trilogy and in the end she, what? Narcs on Magneto because he dumps her? Throws away all of her values over a guy? Oh, Joss Whedon, why weren't you offered this film? What a crappy end for my favorite character in the films... But if the teaser ending is to be trusted, Leech's "cure" should wear off anytime anyway. Unfortunately, that won't change her contradictory actions.

Kitty Pryde was done right. I'm a big fan, obviously, and seeing her portrayed as she was meant to be is wonderful (a saving grace for the picture). I loved her innocent relationship with Bobby, and she had some really cool scenes. A little more screen time wouldn't have hurt though.

I didn't mind Xavier's death. I liked how Scott just kind of fell out of the movie with his death. I even liked Juggernaut and, hey Callisto was portrayed in more interesting a light than she ever has been in comics. But, man, all of the plots had to be scaled back to a clear focus. Bring Phoenix back here, fine, but save the Phoenix Saga stuff for another movie. Serve the movie over the fanboys. Ah, well. At least we have X-2. And really, I liked X-3 better than the original movie, so that's something.


Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the good word on Last Stand .. I'll be seeing it Saturday morning

Tim O'Neil said...

I don't really think Mystique's actions were motivated by the personal jilt so much as simply the fact that she was utterly abandoned by the movement. Perfectly believable, especially since that's often what happens to ex-terrorists in the real world. Especially considering the fact that her loyalty to Magneto was what got her "normed", it makes sense that she would be pissed.

~ Dave said...

I know what you're saying about Mystique - I'd be pissed too. But I don't see Mystique turning tail and helping out the FEDs. Throughout the trilogy, she was the one that most embodied Magneto's message. What a sad, pathetic way to have her end her arc, when she had a view that provided some of the most thought-provoking moments of the pictures. I just don't see her helping people who she said things like "It's people like you who made me afraid to go to school" to, in the first film. She would be abandoning all she's learned and fought for up to that point. It's just too engrained in her character to react out of mere spite in the end.

ADD said...

Didn't mind Xavier's death? Did you see the final scene after the credits? :-)

~ Dave said...

you do realize you're forcing me to see it again, right?

Gordon said...

Caught you through When Fangirls Attack, and I agree with you on many points of X3 - it wasn't bad, it was just kinda...there.

Also, on Mystique's "reversal" - that could have (and should have) been a really good subplot: you have a woman with a complicated history with her mentor (suggested in the earlier films) suddenly lose her powers and abandoned. What do the filmmakers do? Make her strike out as a "jilted lover" - not explore the whole subtext of what-do-I-do-now-that-I'm-human? Maybe even suggest her own identity?

You're right - Whedon (or another writer) might have made that into strong filmmaking. As it stands, this film seems like let's-stuff-as-many-comic-book-references-as -humanly-possible.