Thursday, June 08, 2006

X-Men: Last Stand

Finally saw it last night and it's pretty good. Especially the part at the end where Dark Willow geets all veiny and Wolverine brings her back to reality by telling her that he loves her before he has to impale her to close the mouth of Acathla.

I kid! Obviously Marvel's Dark Phoenix saga came first and Joss Whedon was leaning heavily on it for the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in much the same way that he leaned on the Teen Titan's Judas Contract for season three). But it was striking how much similarity there was between Ratner and Whedon's envisioning of "Phoenix."

It also struck me that the script Ratner and Fox settled on was particularly self-destructive for the future of the franchise. There's nothing wrong with killing major characters--in fact, that's a virtue. But why loose all of the interesting major characters? ***SPOILER TO FOLLOW***

Magneto, Xavier, Jean Grey, and Rogue are the four most interesting characters in the series. They have the most compelling motivations and internal conflicts and the most intriguing powers. The X-Men franchise will soldier on in the next trilogy and certainly there are no shortage of good characters: Ice-man, Kitty Pride, and Gambit are great. But they're ornaments; the stories are going to need dramatic foundations. Turning the series entirely over to Storm and Wolverine seems like a mistake.

There is much to dislike Last Stand--the way the studio cheaped out on the final fight at Alcatraz; the continuity problems with simple things, like time of day; not bothering to have Beast's hair obey the laws of gravity when he's hanging upside down--for that matter, the movie's incoherent representation of his abilities; the spots of bad dialogue; etc.

But there was much to like, too. Kitty Pride was beautifully realized, as was Juggernaught. The great Bill Duke got to do his thing. And how about the way Magneto crushes the first two cars in the motorcade?

In the end, it isn't quite fair to compare Last Stand to Return of the Jedi, as many have. Jedi left such a sour taste in your mouth that there was no need to see what happens next. I still haven't gotten my fill of the X-Men series. It's easy to see where they go from here, but hard to figure out how they'll do it well.


Michael said...

You do realize that the "cure" wasn't actually a cure but a palliative?

First hint: the Beast's arm recovers after he moves away from The Leech (this happens to others as well, but it was most obvious with him).

Second hint: at the end of the movie (may have been after the credits) Magneto is playing chess in the park and moves the metal pieces with his power.

If he can recover after all those doses, then you can bet that Rogue can recover. Though Dr X and Jean Grey may be dead unless (a) they pulled an Obi-Wan (b) this whole movie turns out to be somebody's terrible dream, or (c) Kirk drops a Genesis device on Earth. Magneto, Rogue, and Mystique will be fine, though Mystique probably won't be quite so snuggly with Magneto.

Anonymous said...

But is Dr. X dead? After the credits there was small scene in a hospital room where a heavily bandaged person moves a bit, then says "Moira?" And it was Dr. X's voice!

So I only see Jean Grey as dead. But then she's seemed dead before.

If the powers come back slowly, as appears to be the case with Magneto, does Mystique turn blue slowly as well? And can I watch?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we would all like to see that return to blueness.
Wouldn't that make an interesting plotpoint in the next movie? When everyone gets their powers back, how will Mystique react to Magneto giving her the shaft when she no longer was of use to him? I haven't read X-men comics since the 80s. But even then they were changing affiliations every other issue.

Bizarro Jack said...

I was really disappointed with the dialog and characterizations. I can handle a few continuity errors (and there were a few). I did like the basic storyboard elements. The acting was just terrible across the board, though, and when it's everyone, like that, you have to blame the director. You can tell that the studio just wasn't interested in good characters or good acting, and I hope they don't make any more if they are going to do it that way. Of course, Ian McKellan still rules the school in spite of this, but pretty much everyone else couldn't do it on their own.