Sunday, May 28, 2006

MOVIES: Quick thoughts on "X-Men: The Last Stand"

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWell, it may be getting mixed reviews from the critics and so far the Internet fanboy reaction is kinda negative, but heck, I"m an ol' softie and enjoyed "X-Men: The Last Stand." It's a polarizing movie in the comics world, I guess, but judging from early box office numbers, this will be a big hit. Quick impressions (with a few SPOILERS, but if you want to see it completely uninformed, you might skip this post for now):

Quick verdict: Better than the first, not as good as the second. More action and bombast, a little less heart and soul. I'd give it a B to B+ I think.

The good:
Really felt like the closing chapter of a trilogy. Nice apocalyptic showdown, with real consequences. Much bigger action sequences than any other part of the series, with the final scenes in San Francisco a fanboy bonanza.

I've always liked Famke Janssen's Jean Grey, and it was good to see her step into the spotlight in this one. The take on the "Dark Phoenix" arc really got her talents to show, and she was quite scary as the ultra-powerful friend-turned-foe. The scene at her parents' house was probably the best in the movie, extremely tense stuff. If the script faltered somewhat at giving Jean Grey motivation, Famke took up the slack on her end.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt's a big-budget action movie, but using the idea of a mutant "cure" as a hook for the action gives it a real emotional resonance. Some of the characters make surprising choices, and the stakes feel quite high.

Kelsey Grammer is the Beast. Perfect casting, even if the action sequences featuring him seemed a little too slick. But like Ian McKellen, Grammer can sell even the laziest of dialogue with that Shakespearean voice.

Loved all the cameos by other mutants, especially Madrox the Multiple Man – the actor playing him was so perfect, I wish he could've had more than a few brief scenes.

Kitty Pryde versus Juggernaut. Awesome.

Ian McKellen. The entire movie could be him in a cave making phone calls and it'd still be worth watching, I think.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is still the beating heart of the movies. While he's warped into a warmer and fuzzier version of the comic character, he's still pretty fiery – particularly in the movie's climax.

The OK:
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIf you read the Internets, Brett Ratner is the antichrist who raped your neighbor's puppies. While he's a pretty workmanlike director, he didn't ruin "X3" for me, and I've never particularly gotten the venom toward him online. He lacks Bryan Singer's subtlety and rarely stages a scene in a truly transcendent fashion, but he didn't screw up too badly. Frankly, since the script to "X3" was written by the "X2" writers, there felt like a decent continuity between movies. And like I said, it's still better than "X-Men," which started strong but ended in a muddle. ("What happens to a toad when it gets hit by lightning?")

Still, if I had one bone to pick with "X3," it's that the emotion and humor of Singer's two movies is missing. There's lots of big explodey, which I liked, but little as effective as, say, Iceman "coming out" to his mutant-phobic parents in "X2."

Halle Berry
may have an Oscar, but she's never been very good in these movies, stiff and uninterested. Her part was expanded in this movie, fine and good, but I still don't see her as "Storm." My casting choice if I could do it all over would have been "Hotel Rwanda"'s Sophie Okenedo, who has some of the grace and mystery Storm should have.

If you're one who thinks the movies should slavishly follow the comic, you'll be disappointed, particularly with how the "Dark Phoenix" saga unfolds. But a strict comic-to-movie adaptation probably wouldn't work with this most tangled of properties. Comics ain't movies and vice-versa.

Would have liked to see more of Ben Foster's striking Angel, who has most of his scenes in the trailer.

The ugly:
Some of the deaths were quite effective, but at least one character really went out in a punk fashion, and deserved a better fate. The storytelling around the character's fate was choppy, almost like there were scenes missing.

Utterly wasted in parts that could've been played by extras were the fine actresses Olivia Williams as Moira McTaggert and Shohreh Aghdashloo. Why cast them if you don't use them?

While the Danger Room sequence was nifty, the "Sentinel robot" appearance was extremely cheaply done.

Still and all, for what I was expecting, "X-Men: The Final Stand" is a decent time at the movies. I'm sure many will disagree, but considering how mediocre comic movies can get ("Daredevil," "Fantastic Four,") I still feel like as a whole this trilogy has strived to cut a little deeper than most.

No comments:

Post a Comment