What can be said about the latest round of comic book translations that hasn’t already been said? As a self-professed graphic novel fanboy, I expect these movies to be pale reflections of the true glory that they attempt to mirror and so far I haven’t been massively disappointed. The best thing that can happen to a guy like me—someone who’s been reading X-Men comics since he was about ten—is that I’m finally able to draw a distinction between the movies and the comic books they try to exploit, or I garner enough self control to never watch the movies. Sadly this isn’t going to happen any time soon, so you’re always going to hear from people like me ranting about how the movies are just badly diluted versions of the comic books ad infinitum.
X-Men 3 brings back all the characters from the previous two movies: Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Professor Xavier, all those guys that look super-cool as they slice and dice through a fictional world that’s threatened by a new strand of humanity: the Mutants. But sadly, characters are not all it resurrects. It brings back the plot from the previous movies too. The Mutants are getting a hard time of it, people don’t like them because they’re different. The old form of humanity feel threatened by change and have the means to do something about it. The evil Mutants aren’t going to take this lying down… As you watch it, there’s a definite feeling that you’ve seen this film before.
As metaphors for racism go, the Mutant issue was always an interesting one. You can do a lot with it. It raises all sorts of intriguing questions with regards to civil rights, even touching on the current political climate of terrorism and pre-emptive action. The movie takes the potentially absorbing premise of the Mutants beginning to get organised and strike back against the humans who have threatened to end their society, but sadly does very little with it. The problem is that we’ve still seen it all before, in X-Men 1 and 2.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s entertaining, moderately diverting and has cool special effects. I don’t think that you’ll walk away from the movie theatre feeling like you’ve wasted your money. However, you might feel a little disappointed that the writers didn’t give the premise a bit more time, a little but more consideration. It has too many irrelevant characters, too many unexamined plot-lines, and too many undeveloped ideas.
Admittedly X-Men 3 has had a troubled production history with Bryan Singer, the director of the first two instalments leaving to helm the troubled Superman Returns (only to be replaced by Brett Ratner, who left the Superman project). If you stir in endless re-writes and petulant actors, particularly Halle Berry, who jumped back on board when her career nosedived following the awful Catwoman (2004) it’s surprising that the movie got made at all; although it’s likely that this is the last time we’ll see the current cast step out as X-Men.
The movie is a disappointment for fans (despite the inclusion of the Sentinels in an early scene as a nod to the hardcore X-Men zealots) and is potentially confusing for regular moviegoers with no vested interest in the franchise. The movie is in fact rather like X-Men baddie Juggernaut (played incongruously by Vinnie Jones in a muscle suit) who likes nothing better than to mindlessly crash through walls in an unstoppable fashion. Entertaining, but slightly pointless.
X-Men 3: The Last Stand (2006)
Dir. Brett Ratner
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Kelsey Grammer, Patrick Stewart
Genre: Action, Fantasy