Wednesday, June 28, 2006

X-Men: Late to the Party

How was X-Men: The Last Stand? Simply put, it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable for me as the first two movies. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t horrible or that I hated every moment of it, just that the first two movies were exceptional for the genre while The Last Stand was something closer to typical.

The good: a few surprise twists and turns combined with captivating and cool special effects definitely kept it from being boring. It followed its plot more effectively than, say, the Matrix trilogy--as if the directors had intended to end up where the movie stopped instead of flailing around for something meaningful. The Wachowskis couldn’t quite pull off the trilogy (although The Matrix was brilliant).

Kelsey Grammar as Beast was more satisfying than I would have expected.

The bad: the new faces were a blur of unexplored personalities. The special effects, while top notch, also managed to be over much and distracting. Oddly, there have been movies that I will watch, willingly forgiving their flaws, if the visual effects and style are worth the attention. The Cell and Sky Captain... come to mind. Here, though, the effects were more of a barrier to enjoying the characters.

And was I the only one who thought that some of the lines were cheesy? Even for a comic book-based movie?

The pissy: that is, I’m pissy about a few things. First, how did Angel end up having such an inconsequential role in the movie? As one of the original X-Men (if memory serves, the originals were Iceman, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Beast, and Angel), it bothered me from the beginning that he wasn’t one of the characters in the film. Now, when they bring him in it’s just for a a few moments of screen time and no real character development. Secondly, where did Nightcrawler go? One of the best parts of X-2, I would loved to have seen him back.

It wasn’t a horrible movie, but it was the cinematic equivalent of going to see Return of the Jedi and finding yourself discovering Ewoks. It didn’t ruin The Trilogy, but it wasn’t a particularly good feeling. It could have been better--and, damnit, it should have been better--but it’s still not such a bad way to spend a few summer hours with mindless explosions, pretty blue women, and two of the best comic-to-film characters ever. Because even when everything else is only marginal, Professor X and Magneto remain the gravity that holds the center. 

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