ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘X-Men 3: The Last Stand’ (2006), Part Two
In our latest series of super-hero movie reviews, Chris Sims and Matt Wilson take on the films chosen by you, the readers: X-Men!
Chris Sims: Welcome back to our in-depth review of X-Men 3: The Last Stand, everyone! When we last left off on the unquestionable turkey of the franchise, Jean Grey had gone evil, as evidenced by the fact that she was inexplicably dressed for clubbing in the mid-90s. Oh, and also, she killed Professor X.
Matt Wilson: You know, Chris, you say this is the turkey because that’s the prevailing opinion, but if you readers missed the first half of our review, we really saw a lot of nuance that makes this film an underrated gem–hahahahahahahaha! No, I’m just messin’. It’s awful.Chris: Let’s get right back to it, then! As though last week’s comparison to a CW drama wasn’t quite on the nose enough, we rejoin the story with a scene change to the funeral of Professor X. And hey! It’s all those kids that we haven’t seen for an hour!
Matt: We didn’t say much about their powers earlier, but did they seem kind of boring to you? One kid was writing…without a pen! Another was flying around paper airplanes. Three movies in, that’s what we got. Now, they’re displaying their powers through Mutant Sadness Factors.
Chris: I actually like that this movie bothers to put in the mundane mutant powers. That’s something that even the comics don’t touch on too often (probably because it’s way more boring than a dude killing giant robots with his fist-knives), but it’s an interesting aspect to mutants in the world. But yeah, everyone’s pretty upset, which is even more hilarious because nobody even bothered to pour a 40 out for Cyclops.
Matt: He is truly the red-eyed stepchild of the X-Men movie series. Now that Professor X is good and buried (What did they bury, anyway? Some goop they scraped off the walls?), we finally, 52 minutes into this thing, get the first character development for Kitty Pryde.
Chris: Stating “I am sad because I knew that guy who died” is a pretty loose definition of character development, but Ellen Page does a pretty decent job with it. Which I imagine was tough, given how Iceman is just staring at her like he’s about to eat her face for the entire scene.
Matt: There’s also the stuff about missing home, but yes, it’s pretty boilerplate. To help her feel at home, Iceman freezes the fountain outside and they go for a skate. Skating means romance! We learned that the year before, in Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
Chris: That’s why I always get wistful and teary-eyed whenever there’s a new issue of Thrasher. This whole sequence has a definite “kids like those Harry Potter movies, right?” feel to it, but I’m willing to give it a little credit for being a nice scene of kids using their mutant powers to lend a little relatable drama to things. It’d be nice if this wasn’t the first time this had happened in an hour of this movie so far, but still. C+ for effort.
Matt: Aping Harry Potter, yet predicting Twilight two years ahead, Rogue watches the whole thing and gets super jells.
Chris: If I were Bobby, I’d be less upset that my girlfriend thought I was cheating on her with Ellen Page than the fact that she thought I was using our principal’s funeral to do so. Rogue has a pretty pessimistic view of dudes.
Matt: She decides to go off to get cured, and her father-figure, Wolverine, lets her go, telling her, “I’m not your father. I’m your friend.” It’s that kind of caring concern that should enable a more forgiving view of the male sex.
Chris: I do like how he tells her “hey, if you get rid of your powers, make sure you’re doing it for you,” as though her powers did not a) put her first boyfriend into a coma, b) get her kidnapped and put into a magic gyroscope butt-crack-eraser, and c) allow Ellen Page to totally creep on her man. Seriously, that girl’s had nothing but trouble.
Matt: Yeah, he actually does respect her. I’m sorry, readers! I was being a bit facetious! I won’t let it happen again. Next, we’re sent to Magneto’s tents-in-the-woods HQ, despite the fact that we saw a mountain base sort of place a few scenes ago. Really, why are they out there?
Chris: I did the math, and I am 90% sure that this was filmed at a Gathering of the Juggalos back before people knew about it. Need a bunch of weird-looking dudes out in the woods, but don’t have the money to CGI up a whole crowd? There’s your solution.
Matt: Helicopter rides take on a whole new meaning when Magneto’s around. So Jean is standing on top of a big rock, Magneto shoves a cure gun in her face, and she threatens him with the syringes, as if he is surprised somehow by her doing something kind of crazy.
Chris: You’d think the tip-off would’ve been when she made him stop and buy a burgundy prom dress on their way to the woods.
Matt: I have no idea if this is true, but IMDb says the red costumes aren’t just a nod to Phoenix, but also to Scarlet Witch. She is a one-woman coterie of Insane Marvel Women! All you need to add is Malice.
Chris: The rest of Magneto’s running crew is understandably iffy about having the Phoenix around, but Magneto brushes off their concerns by telling them that he didn’t really want to kill Professor X either, but that’s just how you make an omelet sometimes. Back at the school, everyone’s moping around when Angel shows up. Oh hey, Angel’s still in this movie. You may have forgotten that, as I did.
Matt: He’s so important to the movie that he had one of the pre-credits scenes! And this is like, his third appearance. Beast, Wolverine, Storm, Kitty Pryde and Iceman have declared themselves the local school board and are deciding whether to keep the school open when Angel just struts right in. No one ever locks doors in this place.
Chris: Also, everyone is mysteriously conflicted even though there was a scene earlier where Professor X went ahead and told Storm “Hey, you’re in charge when I die.” Like, it was a conversation they actually had about this very subject that everyone is treating like a mystery. Is Storm just trying to be modest? “Well, I didn’t want to tell you guys how he totally picked me and not you, but…”
Matt: And, solely based on Angel entering a room and asking a question, she decides, by herself, that the school will stay open. You’d think there might be a little more to the decision, like, financials and stuff, but no! It’s made!
Chris: Wolverine goes out to Professor X’s grave for no particular reason other than they already built that set so why the hell not, and gets weird psychic calls from Jean. Clearly, this means he should throw some flannel shirts into a duffel bag and go drive somewhere, but how he got that out of a sequence of jump-cuts and the word “Logan,” I will never know.
Matt: Storm tries to stop him, and, look. I know Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman are good actors. I’ve seen them act well. But if you told me this was anything but a first take when Berry says, “You love her,” I will do seven spit takes.
Chris: Hey man, Brett Ratner came up from Rush Hour. You work on a Jackie Chan movie, and you need somebody getting at least three broken bones before you get a second take.
Matt: And that Chris Tucker. He just nails it every time.
Chris: One-Take Tucker, they call him.
Matt: And now we’re back to the protesters, who have been outside the Worthington offices, where Iceman is trying to get to Rogue. Pyro shows up, they have some words, and Iceman leaves. Cool scene, bro!
Chris: Hey, be fair: this scene firmly establishes that Rogue went to go get the cure. Sure, she said that was where she was going the last time we saw her, but I’ve been wondering for five minutes whether she was actually going to get a hamburger or new hat.
Matt: It is important that Pyro shoots some fire at the building, but, you know, maybe you could have done that in a way that was interesting. As interesting as the news alert everyone is watching in the next scene, “Magneto threat issued.” “Oh no! Someone’s threatened Magneto! Or may use Magneto as a means to threaten us! Certainly those words arranged that way, couldn’t mean Magneto has issued a threat!”
Chris: “Magneto Threat Issued” is such an awkward phrase that it reads like it should be an anagram for something. A THOR GAME SUED IS TENT? GATHER, O MENSA, ‘TIS DUE?
Matt: Like, that local Fox station is in trouble and trying to tell us something in code.
Chris: A AD: MOST EIGHTEENS RUT. Are they warning us of porn spam pop-ups?
Matt: The president clearly hasn’t put together the clues, so he orders Trask to send out troops with plastic weapons loaded with cure pellets. To hammer that point home, we see troops arming themselves with plastic weapons loaded with cure pellets while The Only Drill Sergeant in Hollywood, Full Metal Jacket‘s R. Lee Ermey, tells us troops are arming themselves with plastic weapons loaded with cure pellets.
Chris: I really like their use of the phrase “Cure Weapons,” which makes me think of a weaponized Robert Smith. Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick, the one that makes YOU DIE!
Matt: Later, Magneto says “We are The Cure!” in a speech and boy, do I wish he got all pale and had that hairstyle for just a second.
Chris: On the bright side, the cure guns look a lot like the rifles from Mass Effect. So, you know, that’s kind of cool.
Matt: At this point, we are taking what we can get. And what we get after another reminder that Rogue went to get the cure, in case you missed that, is the first decent Wolverine action sequence. It’s pretty good, despite that it includes Marrow, Marrow is a dude for some reason, and it lasts for about 1,000 minutes.
Chris: Are you sure this is Marrow? I remember thinking it was Spike from the X-Statix, or maybe Spyke from X-Men: Evolution back when it came out. Either way: Bone-claws be a-poppin’.
Matt: Oh, maybe it is Spike! Let’s say it’s Spike. Anyway, it’s the first action sequence in this that comes close to anything that happened in the first two movies, two-thirds in. Well, the Magneto vs. cars thing was OK, I guess.
Chris: The soundtrack in this part is trying so hard to be Predator that it is legitimately hilarious.
Matt: Once Wolverine finishes that fightin’, he decides it’s smart to try to be discreet after he just spent quite some time yelling a lot and making loud “clang” sounds with his claws while killing some guys.
Chris: If you think you can hear a little murderin’ over the sounds of the Gathering of the X-Juggalos, then you clearly are not down with the label that runs beneath the streets.
Matt: “We’re a family! A family where murder sounds are just part of the love!”
Chris: Speaking of murder sounds (everyone’s least favorite Beach Boys album), Magneto gives what is meant to be a rousing speech to fire up his troops to go kill some humans, and it doesn’t really work that well. This should, by all rights, be his Big Moment. McKellen’s great in the role and Magneto’s obviously a charismatic character, but there’s nothing he says here that’s half as interesting or alluring as pretty much any line he says in the last film. It’s just kind of generic “Let’s go get ’em!” stuff. He sounds more like a high school football coach than a guy leading an army to battle for the fate of their race. Clear eyes, full hearts, kill the humans.
Matt: He tries. He gets that preacherly tone to his voice and does this vibrato thing, but he just cannot massage these words.
Chris: Yeah. He’s not phoning it in by any means, but it’s just not there. His quiet “you homo sapiens and your guns” from the earlier movie has so much more weight to it than his bellowed “they have their weapons and we have ours!”
Matt: Even Jean Grey isn’t moved, and she walks away near the end of the remarks. Wolverine tries to chat her up, but she ain’t havin’ it. Magneto scoots over, and does that old controlling Wolverine’s body song and dance before tossing him across the woods.
Chris: This is one of the better scenes in the movie, honestly. Jackman and McKellen play really well off of each other, and Jackman in particular makes that whole “hovering off the ground” shot really believable. Even though we’ve seen this same setup before, it still works.
Matt: Too bad the dialogue, about whether Jean wants to hang around with the New Brotherhood, is completely forgettable. I just watched it, seconds ago, and I don’t remember a single word that was said.
Chris: … fair point. Also too bad that they’re discussing Jean like a prop when she is within earshot, quietly listening to everything they say. Sorry, Famke, you had your three scenes! Now grown-ups are talking.
Matt: Now it’s back to the White House, where Trask is setting up an attack on Magneto’s Woodsquarters. Looks like not-mutant Mystique gave him up after a quick trip to Ann Taylor for a sharp black suit.
Chris: It’s pretty weird that Mystique is that eager to sell Magneto out, even after his betrayal. It’s especially after the way First Class goes down later, but even in X-Men 2, she was shown to have some pretty legitimate reasons to be down for the cause. Here, once again, an interesting character is just flattened out to two dimensions and one single motivation. Also: It is hilarious that the government has angled its security camera so that they’re kind of looking down Mystique’s top.
Matt: Mystique went to Ann Taylor, dammit! Take her seriously as a businesswoman! The troops close in, which we see through this kind of cool night-vision thing that makes this all look like Ghost Recon or something, but but but whaaaaat? They’re all Multiple Man! He’s already skipped town! I mean, the woods!
Chris: I’m pretty sure this is the second of Multiple Man’s two lines, and man, does he make the most of it. He delivers everything he says with this kind of smirky Broadway tough guy accent that’s kind of ridiculous, but also pretty fantastic.
Matt: Jamie Madrox was really pretty well cast.
Chris: He’s definitely up there with Bane on the grand list of super-hero movie villains who are two seconds away from breaking into song in any given scene.
Matt: I wish! Let’s get a Kickstarter going to bring these two to Broadway. Maybe Ian McKellen, too. Speaking of Magneto, he’s in the city by the bay, getting an amazing view, saying, of Alcatraz, “It ends where it began.” Did…did it begin there?
Chris: That line makes no sense. Not even a little bit. That’s not even where they developed the cure.
Matt: We also get another patented Vinnie Jones Laff Line about how he doesn’t swim! See, ’cause he’s big! Keep ’em comin’, Vinnie!
Chris: I submit to you that Juggernaut is the exact opposite of Bullet Tooth Tony, whose every line is hilarious. Back at the mansion, Wolverine apparently drove back from Magneto’s camp, which appears to have been within walking distance of San Francisco. This movie has absolutely no sense of time and place. How long has all of this been going on? Months?
Matt: Someone should write a thesis regarding humor, Vinnie Jones, Snatch and this movie. And I have no idea how long this has been going on, how many people have been cured, and, quite frankly, where all the other X-Men are. By the time Wolverine arrives, we have him, Iceman, Beast, Kitty Pryde, Storm and Colossus. Who assembled this team? Why are they just standing around talking about what to do? How are they not actually driving any of the plot of the movie? Beast has quite literally been sitting around at the mansion for days after resigning as a cabinet secretary, where he could have been doing something.
Chris: Rogue alone has been hanging out inside the cure facility for at least two days at this point – she’s there before Wolverine goes off to look for Jean, gets beaten up and drives back to New York, and we haven’t seen her since. But at least we’re finally getting somewhere, with everyone gearing up and Beast rocking a short-sleeve leather jacket (so in this year) and referring to it as his old uniform from when he was an X-Man.
Chris: I do like the idea that there were designs before the fetishy motorcycle suits, but Beast’s actually looks way more contemporary than the already-dated ones Wolverine and the rest of the crew are wearing. Probably because it was based on Frank Quitely’s New X-Men designs.
Matt: It’s blue and gold, too, which is a callback to a joke from the first movie, maybe? I just remember being furious at this movie for making the main characters, the actual X-Men, utterly secondary to events, to the point where they kind of have a little debate about whether or not to even go participate in the climax.
Chris: Yeah. The kids are all suited up, but instead of a scene like Colossus telling Wolverine he can help, like we saw in X-Men 2, they stand around going “hey, should we actually do this?” Iceman comes off as, in the words of the Shogun of Harlem, “a limp wimp.”
Matt: Oh, also Angel is there and he overhears some stuff because, remember? Angel.
Chris: Back in San Francisco, we get some truly bizarre product placement for what I believe is The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask as Magneto struts across the Golden Gate Bridge. And to his credit, the scene where he rips it from its foundations and pulls it over to land on Alcatraz actually does look pretty good. The overdubbed screaming is a little much, but at this point, it’s one of the better effects we’ve seen. Note: By “pretty good,” I mean it looks like a well-done model rather than CGI rendered on a Dreamcast.
Matt: I can’t believe those kids had video games in the car. Snooty San Franciscans! And yeah, the sequence doesn’t look too bad, but it’s lessened by two things. Magneto says, “Charles always wanted to build bridges,” which even McKellen can’t save. And, this is something that was pointed out to me later, if Magneto’s goal is to trash the Alcatraz lab and maybe kill Leech, why not just drop the bridge on the building? That would have been a much more expedient solution.
Chris: You could sort of play off that last one as Magneto wanting to do a grand, dramatic gesture of leading an army to fight Worthington’s people – have we mentioned how f***ing insane it is that this is an X-Men movie where the bad guy is Angel’s dad? – but yeah. It’s mainly like that because you can’t really have Wolverine and Storm fighting a bridge at the climax of your movie.
Matt: I’d love it! It’d be like a Genesis level!
Chris: Also, as bad as that “build bridges” line is, the people on the bridge locking their car door is a pretty great moment. Just the right touch of humor that definitely would’ve made it through had this script gone through as many drafts as it should’ve.
Matt: Yeah, that’s like something you would have seen in one of the other movies. Just like you heard the line, “Humans and their guns,” or a variation thereof, in another movie. It’s repeated here.
Chris: There’s also a bit where Magneto is super surprised that all the army guys are kitted out with plastic weapons, as though there was not a dude beating him with a plastic nightstick in the last movie. It’s almost like Ratner and the writers never actually saw X-Men 1 or 2, and just had someone describe it to them. Over the phone. While driving through a tunnel.
Matt: McKellen looks like Bela Lugosi in an Ed Wood movie in these shots. Also, says something about pawns going first in chess TWO TIMES. A bunch of those pawns get de-mutated with the de-mutating guns before Arclight busts all the weapons up with shockwaves. Maybe she could have done that earlier?
Chris: Arclight? I guess that answers my question of whether she was Stacy-X. Finally, I can rest easy knowing that Stacy-X was not in a movie, but Spike from X-Statix was.
Matt: We were Stacy-X-fooled. So, once the fight is good and started, the X-Men show up, each getting little introduction shots like this is the 90’s cartoon. We should see their names pop up on the screen as they jump down!
Chris: As hard as we have been riding the music in this movie, all would be forgiven if they’d busted this out during the big fight.
Matt: No joke. Everybody jumps into the fight. Wolverine knocks down a light pole and goes at some guys. Beast does some awkward swinging around and jumping, and Callisto goes straight for Storm. Why do the women of color always have to be fighting each other?
Chris: Before anyone emails, yes, we know Callisto and Storm have A History in the comics. But come on, this Callisto doesn’t even have an eyepatch. Also, as much as I understand your desire to block it out, you skipped over Frasier’s line reading of “Oh my stars and garters.”
Matt: That was intentional! Also, Callisto here is half Caliban, anyway.
Chris: We can’t make it go away by ignoring it. And brother, is it a prime example of why “oh, that’s from the comics” is not a great reason to include something. All things considered, Grammar has done a pretty decent job of playing the Beast as smart, but the script has completely left out the fun side. For the whole movie, he’s been either dead serious or mopey as hell, so his “oh my stars and garters” doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen. Like, he might as well have said “it’s clobberin’ time” for how much it means.
Chris: It’s also pretty weird that the military guys don’t just immediately open fire with their cure guns on these mutants that drop out of the sky right in front of them. Do people actually know what the X-Men look like? And even if they do, there’s definitely one of them with Magneto, so… I guess the only explanation is that the soldiers also saw the first two and a half movies.
Matt: They’re pulling Iceman aside to ask, “Is Cyclops dead or what?”
Chris: Thank goodness none of them pointed out that Magneto could just fling Wolverine into the Pacific like we’ve seen him do two or three times now, or else we humans would be in some serious trouble.
Matt: Yeah, not only do they not shoot the X-Men, they take orders from Wolverine!
Chris: “Don’t just stand there, Private! He’s the breakout star of this movie with a three-picture spin-off deal!”
Matt: After some fightin’, Magneto sends Juggernaut into the building to kill Leech. Kitty goes in after him and drags him down into the floor. Then we get hardcore meme’d.
Chris: A lot of people hated this part, but you know what? I’m perfectly okay with it.
Matt: Chalk me up for hating it. I don’t know if it’s the winking acknowledgment of the “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” meme or Jones’ terrible line reading or what. I just hate it.
Chris: Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty terrible from every conceivable angle. But I’d be lying if I said that the original video doesn’t still crack me up, and if there’s one place that you should feel perfectly comfortable dropping a disposable Internet popcult reference, it’s probably the third X-Men movie. My only regret is that they didn’t have the original guy come in and overdub every one of Juggernaut’s lines. Imagine that dude saying “LET ME OUT MAGNETO I GOTTA PEE” and suddenly this movie is amazing.
Matt: Someone should do that. We’re giving the Internet a lot of projects here.
Chris: Vinnie Jones only has like four lines in this movie. That’s, what five grand to get that guy into the studio for half an hour? Totally doable as a bonus feature.
Matt: Juggernaut bursts out of the ground and chases Kitty through some walls, none of them, surprisingly, load-bearing, before Kitty Roadrunners him and runs away.
Chris: Kitty Pryde and Juggernaut running through walls is actually a really good visual gag, and while my X-Men knowledge is pretty sketchy once you hit the ’90s, I don’t remember seeing it too often in the comics. For all that this scene gets a bad rap, it is pretty fun.
Matt: Kid Omega kills that scientist we saw in that one scene, Psylocke and Arclight grab Worthington, Beast half-quotes Churchill and Kitty finds Leech. Of those events, one or two really are worthwhile somehow!
Chris: Is that dude really supposed to be Kid Omega? Like, Quentin Quire Kid Omega?
Matt: That is his name in the credits, though he’s really Quill more than anything.
Chris: Yeesh. Anyway, Worthington the Deuce gets chucked off the roof and saved by Angel while some straight up NeverEnding Story music plays, and remember how I said this movie had no sense of time or place? Angel definitely was not on the Blackbird, so I guess he just flew to San Francisco from New York. In, what, twenty minutes?
Matt: Maybe he stowed away on the landing gear.
Chris: Maybe this movie makes no sense.
Matt: I’m willing to believe both! So Storm takes Callisto down with some lightning, and Magneto up and decides “it’s time to end this war,” because up to now he was just playin’.
Chris: Yes: He’s been standing around watching his entire army get their asses kicked, both individually and collectively, and now has decided that it is time to strike. See above comments re: sense and how much this movie makes.
Matt: However, he and Pyro do pull off a pretty great Chrono Trigger Double Tech attack in which Magneto throws cars and Pyro lights ’em up.
Chris: Which, again, he could have been doing this entire time. It’s pretty cool, but it’s also more of an “opening salvo” move that wouldn’t have caused his entire gang to get trounced and de-powered. At this point, I have no idea at all what Magneto wants or what his motivation is. Also, where the hell has Jean been for this entire time?
Matt: Just standin’ around, waiting for the plot to need her. Speaking of plot contrivances, Wolverine notices a cartridge of the cure pellets and works up a plan to catch Magneto with one. Or four.
Chris: Wolverine and Storm also quote each other from the beginning of the movie to prove how much they’ve come to relate to each other like we’re watching a buddy cop movie, even though they have barely interacted in the 90 minutes since that happened. Beast, who was not there for that exchange, nods silently.
Matt: McKellen’s character is so watered down and confusing at this point that the scene where he’s depowered–because Wolverine does something dumb and Beast sneaks up behind him–has next to no impact. It’s kind of just, “Oh, well that happened.”
Chris: Also, Beast stabs that dude with four of the depowering needles! The only four they have! When they still have Jean to worry about!
Matt: One would have done the trick, doctor.
Chris: Also, how does four times the amount of depowering juice that put young, healthy Rebecca Romijn into a seizure not just flat-out kill 70 year-old Magneto?
Matt: Anyway, that plot necessity is happening now, and a bunch of military guys show up and indiscriminately shoot cure pellets at everyone, even the X-Men who are supposed to be their pals. Jean stops them all, Matrix-style and then starts just royally f**king everyone up.
Chris: And when you say “Matrix style,” you mean “exactly like the Matrix, like, not even trying to hide it.”
Matt: Not in the slightest! Jean makes everyone explode like she did Professor X (except for the good guys, who are in a psychic explosion-free zone, I guess) and Wolverine starts walking toward her while she tears his skin away. We have achieved INVINCIBLE WOLVERINE. Also, this part is gross.
Chris: I think maybe the best part of this is how, in order to get the fiery Phoenix effect on a budget, they just have Jean stand in front of some fires while she mentally strips Hugh Jackman.
Matt: She looks and talks like Gozer. She is Gozer. This movie has a Gozer.
Chris: She is exactly like Gozer.
Matt: Except instead of taking her down by crossing the streams and believing in Ray Parker Jr., Wolverine just stabs her.
Chris: Right after he tells her he loves her. It’s Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair at WrestleMania 24 all over again.
Matt: Then we get a literal shot where the camera pulls away while the sobbing hero holds his dead love in his arms and shouts, “NOOO!” Wolverine cries a damn ton in this thing.
Chris: He is no ore or less upset about Jean than he was about Professor X, which pretty much confirms every bit of fan-fiction on the Internet. Also, it’s worth noting that a friend of my friend Scott saw this movie without being a fan of the comics and was convinced that all the Fastball Specials were leading up to Colossus throwing Leech at Jean to save the day, which actually would’ve been a better solution.
Matt: He or she must not have seen the rest of the movie, where literally no one does anything even close to that clever.
Chris: Wouldn’t that have been great, though? “I do it… for you,” and then WHAM, Leech upside her head.
Matt: It would have been smart and, most importantly, a surprise that had been set up in the script. But nah. Just stab her.
Chris: Back at the Mansion, a phrase that I feel like I’ve typed eighty or ninety times over the course of this review, Rogue is back after being completely absent from most of this movie, Beast is appointed US Ambassador to the UN (after resigning, joining a paramilitary vigilante group and stabbing a 70 year-old man with the chemicals he protested against), and Wolverine is super happy about everything. And Cyclops finally gets a grave.
Matt: Rogue took the cure, by the way, if anyone didn’t catch that she was going to go try to get it. Also, Wolverine says, “Way to go furball,” to the TV at McCoy’s announcement, like they built a friendship at some point?
Chris: Wolverine seems to be in a pretty great mood after stabbing his crush. Wolverine is a weird dude.
Matt: The Golden Gate bridge is still broken, Angel’s still flying around saying or doing something every half hour or so, and Magneto’s an old dude in the park, playing chess with no one. Or…is it?
Matt: You know, this last shot is actually not bad. It’s like Inception’s ending before Inception, in that you don’t know if Xavier’s still a consciousness or something, and it shows how sad Magneto’s life is post-mutant. Too bad it’s not actually the end of the movie.
Chris: This thing sure as hell commits the sin of overstaying its welcome.
Matt: Because there’s a post-credits sequence! Marvel’s first, if I remember correctly.
Chris: Uncredited Moira MacTaggart returns and that brain-dead dude she was talking about in that ten-second video two hours ago speaks with the voice of Patrick Stewart!
Matt: Oh man, good thing we saw that super-short snippet of video that didn’t have any impact on the story earlier! The movie ends on a “Is Professor X not really dead?” note, almost subtly, then, it just s**ts the bed.
Chris: Well, at least it’s over.
Matt: Thank heavens.
Matt: Not really too many. We’ve extolled the virtues of the cast in the previous movies, but this script just seems to have sunk them all this time. Jackman and McKellen get a handful of good moments, and in the parts where she really gets to act, Famke Janssen does pretty well.
Chris: I’m trying to think of stuff that’s good, and the best I can come up with is “not terrible.” There are like three or four scenes that are well-done, but only if you view them in complete isolation from the rest of the movie. Bobby and Kitty ice-skating on the fountain is a cool image, and Jackman’s conversation with Magneto is well-done. The cast… Well, the best you can say is that they do what they can, and in a movie where we know there are genuinely amazing actors, that’s damning with faint praise.
Matt: I liked some of the action scenes. Magneto breaking Mystique out of the prison transport. Wolverine fighting the dudes in the woods. Flaming car throwing.
Chris: Yeah. That’s pretty much it.
Matt: The script. It’s just all over the place. Like, you mentioned that Warren Worthington Jr. is the bad guy in this. He’s in it for what, five minutes? That’s your main antagonist!
Chris: This movie’s a weird one for us, because it’s not like Catwoman where it’s just thoroughly inept, and it’s not like Superman Returns where I’m devoutly opposed to it on an almost moral level. It’s just bland and boring and stupid in a very forgettable way. We talked about how there’s no sense of time or place, and that’s because there’s no real structure to the movie – that’s also why you get the scenes where the heroes have to remind each other that they need to go participate in the climax.
Matt: If we had a problem with characters just disappearing in X2, this movie commits the sin threefold. It kills two major ones off in the first half. Angel, who we’re introduced to as an Important Character, does almost nothing. Beast is gone most of the movie. It’s really the Wolverine and Storm show most of the time, and while I like the two actors, it doesn’t feel too much like a team movie.
Chris: Rogue disappears for 45 minutes, and then disappears for another 50. She has one scene in the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end, and she’s one of the primary characters of the franchise! She’s the one character who actually goes in and gets rid of her powers, and we see no decision-making on that front, no conflict over whether she should do it. Even Wolverine just kind of shrugs it off.
Matt: Even when she comes back, it’s just like, “OK! You did it!” For all we know, the cure’s still being made. Leech is alive. Worthington’s alive. None of the new characters (or at least, characters that got costumes when they didn’t before) get a fair shake. Juggernaut has, really, one scene. Kitty has two. Colossus barely has any. The Morlocks are sort of just set dressing.
Chris: That’s one of the huge problems with this movie: They obviously thought it would be cool to do a big comic book style “event” where these two armies of Good Mutants and Bad Mutants have a fight, but the thing about comics is that those characters are already introduced. Here, they have to just get them all on-screen as quick as possible, and those huge limitations end up with Magneto, Phoenix, a bunch of nameless scrubs and, what, eight guys that we barely know against six X-Men, most of whom haven’t actually been in a scene yet.
Matt: Speaking of that last action sequence, it’s got some just plain bad special effects when the X-Men jump in to join the fight. They look rough. A few special effects are passable to good, others are a clear rush job.
Chris: We mentioned this above, but this movie shows exactly what the limits of great actors are. In X-Men and X2, there’s dialogue that’s just good enough that McKellen, Stewart & Co. can make it sing. Here, it just sinks the performances. McKellen’s last line in the movie is “What have I done.” and it’s delivered with such a flat lack of interest that it’s the one moment in three movies where he clearly doesn’t care. He’s finally phoning it in.
Matt: His most effecting scene is the very last one, where he says nothing. He knows how to play that one. Many of the others, he does not. Likewise, Stewart is just cranky the whole time. He gets nothing to work with.
Chris: I’m sure it doesn’t help that Magneto is no longer sympathetic in the least and Professor X suddenly has weird baggage and no redemption whatsoever.
Matt: Yeah, it’s as though they made Anakin Skywalker into an unlikable, selfish crybaby who was never a good person to begin with. (This is baiting you.)
Chris: I know we’re about two points away from tacking up a list of theses on Brett Ratner’s door, but the relationships in this movie are screwed up all to hell. I think the fact that this is a Dark Phoenix Saga movie in which Cyclops appears for less than five minutes pretty much says it all. Or at least, it would if Wolverine hadn’t wept over the death of Professor X, if Magneto had actually cared about his followers at all, if Storm and Wolverine had actually had a conflict, if Rogue and Iceman had come to some kind of resolution, if Kitty’s interactions with Iceman had led literally anywhere…
Matt: But Wolverine and Beast apparently became pals off-screen! So that’s cool!
Chris: I’m reconsidering my statement above about how this movie isn’t thoroughly inept. But honestly, it’s less that and more that you can see exactly how hard they were pushing through to get it done. It definitely feels like nobody got to do multiple takes until they got it right, they just went until it was okay.
Matt: And they went ahead with a script that looked kind of like a movie.
Chris: “Is it 90 pages? Awesome, let’s shoot.” – Brett Ratner, probably.
Chris: Honestly, I’m kind of impressed that this didn’t just tank the franchise.
Matt: It did in a way. It was toxic enough that the next one had to be a Wolverine solo movie, and the one after that had to be a flashback/reboot. There are still X-Men movies, but not these X-Men movies.
Chris: But there was still enough there that they wanted to hold on to some of it, like how First Class was kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really sold to the audience as an origin for this franchise. But then, it’s easy to see why they had to start doing flashbacks: Where the hell do you go from here? Cyclops, Professor X and Phoenix are all dead, Rogue and Magneto don’t have any powers. It’s kind of mystifying that this movie acts like they’ll get a sequel after all that.
Matt: It really does leave things off in a weird place. They’d have to introduce Apocalypse or something in the next one. Combine Age of Apocalypse with Riot at Xavier’s! That’ll work!
Chris: Oof. Don’t give ’em ideas. I think we can officially say that X-Men 3 sucks pretty hard, but we’ll see how they went about redeeming the franchise next week, as we get into the only X-Men movie I haven’t already seen: Wolverine Origins!
Matt: I haven’t seen it either! We’ll discover it…together.
Chris: Like the fragments of our shattered past. Hopefully they’ll explain why Deadpool looks and sounds just like Hannibal King.