X-Men 3: The Last Stand left such a bad after-taste that I had to go see Over The Hedge again just to get back on track.
The track record for this summer has been pretty ugly. Out of all the summer blockbusters I’ve seen thus far—Mission: Impossible 3, The Da Vinci Code, Poseidon (which has the distinction of being the worst film of the year), Over the Hedge and now X-Men 3, the only memorable blockbuster was Hedge, the animated film about animals stuck in suburbia. So far, the summer blockbuster season hasn’t impressed me much.
The X-Men franchise should go out with a bang, and if this latest installment is said to be the last, well, it definitely went out with a limp fizzle. The first two films were strong efforts, and X2 United was considered by many to be one of the best films of that year. So the franchise has quite a track record to uphold. When news came that Brett Ratner was directing the third installment and not Bryan Singer, it left unease in many fan’s hearts such as myself. Well, unfortunately, our expectations for Ratner we’re met and he proves time and time again that he is incompetent; he’s more in it for celebrity status than actually being a good director. Scenes in X3 feel so ill-prepared and thrown together at the last minute that you wonder if Ratner spends more time using up his monthly VIP passes to the Playboy Mansion than actually prepping for a scene in a film he’s directing.
Brett Ratner gives directors a bad name.
Forgive my rant on him. Back to the topic.
The major problem with the X-Men movies have always been the overload of characters. So it seems the filmmakers wanted to clear the overstuffed screen, follow modern film conventions and have just one archetype of each character. So the film, at its core structure, almost feels like a roll call—we can only have one room for a femme fatale so now that Jean Grey is the saucy Phoenix, off you go Mystique! We can only have one brooding leading man, so off you go Cyclops and welcome to your new seat, Wolverine! Too many smart mutants so let’s kill off Professor X and give the expository lines to Beast! Brett Ratner, who is so stupid that he completely trashed the idea these films are ensemble pieces. Instead, he and his writers give most of the work to Halle Berry (fresh Oscar clout), Huge Jackman (box office draw) and Sir Ian McKellan (for panache and his popularity thanks to a little film about a Renaissance man and his codes).
There are wonderful themes and issues in X-Men 3 that could have been beautifully drawn out, reflecting today’s hot-button issues such as immigration, citizenship and homogenizing society. Instead, Ratner resolves to “orange fireball cinema.” Nothing is really accomplished. The issues of acceptance, differences and diplomacy are brought to the table and are just left there to rot while we marvel at the CGI, which were downright unimpressive. A good amount of the film takes place in San Francisco but the city streets sure didn’t look or feel like San Francisco. All the effects felt as real as an XBOX 360 demonstration. It’s clean, no doubt, but its still just pixels on a screen. Nothing really comes to life.
Characters are wasted for the sake of eye candy, which is a common trait found in most of Ratner’s cinematic fumbles. It’s too bad too, because to his credit, he delivered a pretty good first act. It just goes down hill from there.
The last scene in the film is supposed to give you hope. Instead you groan at the possibility of a fourth film. And at the tail end of the credits (if you sat through it) is a scene that solidifies the notion of a fourth film. One can only pray.
This could have been an excellent film due to its premise. Instead, it ends up being rather . . . X-traneous.