It's been nice being so late to the X-Men party, because I've been able to enjoy the three-movie run inside a week. A run which has come hot-off-the-heels of the Wolverine movie, and as I've gotten further through the X-Men movie saga, the more I've gotten into it.
I've grown increasingly fond of the first two movies in the past few days since seeing them for the first time ever, and indeed it further cemented Singer's place as a director of quality ... despite that wobble with Superman Returns.
It's a shame then that the quality direction and writing of X1 and X2 didn't hang around for X3 ... because there's a considerable drop in quality in those departments.
The only area where X3 improves on the first two, is in terms of special effects and stuff generally blowing up - everywhere else, it falters seriously at best, and completely goes arse over tit at worst. Instead of trying to write cohesively, I'll just blurt out my complaints/thoughts as they come to me, in a list (it's been about 3 hours, at the time of writing, since I saw X3 for the first time).
* Cyclops has sod all to do before getting killed off out of the blue - lame.
* The 'reason' for Jean Grey not dying is lame.
* The "20 years ago" sequence is actually pretty cool - the 'youthing' of Xavier and Magneto is particularly impressive, and puts the appearance of a 'younger Xavier' in Wolverine to shame alright.
* Gee, let me guess, Rogue's going to get rid of her powers so she can play tonsil-hockey with Ice-Boy ('Man') ... and she bloody well does - thus pissing all over one of the core points in the X-Men series which is, 'don't be ashamed of who you are, and don't let anyone make you think you should change yourself' ... the alternate ending where she didn't go through with changing herself made far more sense.
* Xavier gets killed off - again - lame, plus he didn't seem to have sod all chance. So that's two awesome characters slain in the first half.
* The opening battle is cool - and brave - until you find out it's a simulation, gee, I wonder when that'll come in handy - yes, at the end, surprised? No.
* There's so many characters, and so little running time, that everybody is skimped over completely to the point where most of it doesn't make a lot of sense amidst the constant onslaught of shit blowing up.
* Magneto losing his power is an interesting plot point, although it's tossed into the last ten minutes, but fortunately some quality acting from McKellan makes the best of a bad situation.
* Mystique - yet another character dispensed with willy-nilly (or should that be titty-witty?) - I understand the point of it in the plot, but it's all so rushed - and then she's forgotten about for sodding ages until we get one brief glimpse at a monitor of her apparently giving away the location of Magneto's random woodland camp for his army (why are they in the woods?)
* This bald kid who saps people's powers - he's part of the reason for the entire plot, yet he's barely on screen - then he's rescued from that facility at the end so he can be promptly forgotten about entirely like the actually pointless character that he was.
* Pyro is an even bigger douche than he ever was.
* "I don't swim" - well then steal a boat, or have Magneto float you over the sea on a big sheet of metal - why go to the huge effort of uprooting the famous San Francisco bridge? Clearly (painfully so), it's a meaningless set-piece.
* Yes, throw a ton of flaming cars from the same bridge, but then show a full bridge (chock-a-block of headlights) in the wide shot. Stupid mistake there.
* Blimey, it's Ellen Page.
* Kelsey Grammar's not got a lot to do ... like everyone else ... ah, finally he punches someone.
* Numerous, clunking lines of expositionary dialogue yank you right out of the movie.
* Vinnie Jones ... looking like a giant walking cock ... they even have Ellen Page call him a "dick head" ... geeeeez.
* So Jones' dude can be restrained by thick metal clamps over his limbs and torso in a truck, but encasing him chest-deep in solid concrete does sod all - despite his power being reliant on momentum? Not a lot of sense going on here...but that's what you get in a rushed, hatched-job script.
* The ending they chose is about the best you could get (despite Rogue's stupid decision to lose her power - surely she's no longer eligible to attend the school), but the fact that there's three alternate endings simply goes to show that they had fuck all idea what they wanted in the script.
* That winged dude - what was the point of him? He's one of the least developed characters, and he's purely there to play the same lines we've seen before in X1 and X2 - "mutant is ashamed of self / mutant finds a home at the school / mutant saves the one who disrespected him/her so much in the first place" - an entirely pointless character given sod all to do.
* Fortunately, Hugh Jackman remains the most watchable and best part of X-Men (for me at least, but also many others I think - hence X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
* Tin Man - nifty power, but underacted, underwritten, and generally side-lined ... yes, like almost every other character.
* The final scene is an odd thing - the final punch isn't carried off as well as it could have been, it falls flat for some reason, despite the thankfully subtle nature of the last moment ... but what does work very well is McKellen, who brings some of that Royal Shakespeare Company gravitas to his (and the movie's) final scene. Magneto - robbed of his powers - sits all alone in a park full of old codgers playing chess in pairs, his face full of loneliness and despair. You feel sorry for him, despite him thoroughly deserving it (his cold-hearted ditching of Mystique is reason enough alone - and she was a villainess too!)
That's about all I can think of, off the top of my head, but it's as I figured. I thought X2 was great stuff, so - according to the common theme of reviews online - I was bound to be rather let down by X3 ... and I was. Also, as I'd figured, X3 is the "all action, and basically bugger all else" third act to X1's efficient, introductory first act and X2's grandiose, gap-filling second act.
X3 comes as a real shame - a duff cap-off to two excellent superhero movies which had brain and braun - X3 is as dumb and blunt as Vinnie Jones' Juggernaut. I also wasn't pleased with them killing off not only Cyclops, but Xavier and Jean Grey as well - it felt too harsh, and missing any kind of real redemption.
In the end though, the movie's flaws all come down to the script and the direction. The script is rushed, lacking, confused and misguided with no real direction. The direction is nothing special ... it's paint-by-numbers, it's formulaic, it's mechanical.
When compared to the writing and direction of X1 and X2, there's no similarities to be made on those two fronts, X3 simply fails to meet the standard set by those who came before.
Still ... the action was entertaining (despite the context), Wolverine continued to pwn everything, and the leads all brought their acting chops to the table and more than upheld their part of the deal.
And that was post #299, fact fans - next up, I'll do a run down (in ascending order) of my all time favourite movies (plus, and starting with, the honourable mentions list).