Saturday, August 4, 2012

Marvel Movie Project #7: X-men: Last Stand

Everyone hates this movie except me and I have only found out about this recently.  I don't get it.  X-men 3 isn't The Avengers, but it also isn't Fantastic Four and while I realize there is a sea of difference between the two, I struggle to find what's not to like here. (Aimee will help us out there)  I mean, this movie pretty much has it all:  more fun with characters I like, the balls to kill off three very prominent characters, new/interesting villains, old/interesting villains, a fairly straightforward plot, the Beast says "oh my stars and garters" and it works!, and big climactic final battle that rivals some of the great X-men showdowns in the comics!

X-men 3 is a logical and necessary conclusion to X-2, so it is never going to stand on its own as a great film, but as team movies go I think it is pretty strong.  Sure, the Angel storyline is almost completely superfluous, but it is also very forgettable.  I think the balance is better here than it was in X-men, which, while being a decent ensemble piece, felt like Wolverine's debutant ball.  By the time we get to X-men 3, the characters are all fully developed and we are allowed to enjoy them being put to the test.  Storm in particular shines in this film where before Halle Berry seemed more content to play Catwoman.  Kelsey Grammar is an unexpectedly compelling Beast, and Rebecca Romijn gets a surprising twist in Mystique story arc.  And, of course, Ellen Page captures Kitty Pryde dead-on.

There is a lot to like in X-men 3 and a lot of lessons have been learned.  Gone are the days of the World Peace Festivals and Doomsday machines.  Instead we get a plot that, while condensed, is straight from the pages of the comic books.  We get internal strife within the X-men as characters follow their natural story arcs and disagree on what is best for the future of the team.  We get plenty of hard-hitting action without having to concoct a lot of goofy reasons for it.  Comic book nerds also get lots of nuggets to feast upon with cameos by Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man and Psylocke and much needed screen time for the under-used Colossus.  Not to mention the awesome "Days of Future Past" Danger Room sequence.

With all of these great things going on, I find it hard to find major fault anywhere in this film.  For me it is just a fun action-romp with great X-men characters in a world that has been firmly established.  Does it have problems?  Sure.  But they are not big enough for me to get in a snit over and they certainly do not diminish my enjoyment of this film.  There are two (three if you count The Avengers) other team films ahead of this one on the list, but X-men 3 earns its #7 spot by learning from the mistakes of other team films, particularly X-men, and succeeding in delivering a blockbuster-type experience.

Aimee's Take:

I really don't like Angel, I think he's stupid. 

I really don't care for the "mutant cure" premise.

I think there are altogether too many premises in this movie.

But, here's the good news. It's mostly ok. The film manages to execute a lot of interesting things and represent characters, in general, much better than the first installment. It's a good movie. It has a lot going on, though--so you have to pay attention.

I'm biased. I saw this movie and did not like it at all in the theater. I had no idea where it was building and no patience for any pay off. I was pissed that it took a long time to get there, too.

Here's the thing, though, the second viewing changed things for me. Once the burden of navigating the plot was off my shoulders, it became much easier to sit back and enjoy the movie. Do I think it's the best out there? No. Is it better than much of the stuff that exists lower on the list? Yes. Is it better than, for example Spider-Man? I'm not as sure. I think it's better than the first X-Men.

I think this makes everything ok.
I lobbied pretty hard for this movie to be lower on the list. Stan wanted it higher. In order to keep X3 sufficiently low, I had to relinquish my stranglehold on the #1 spot. I think it was ultimately worth it; this movie is good but not great and should take a lower spot compared to what comes later on this list. And the #1 spot was almost a coinflip anyway...