Last week I went out to the cinema to see a film in Brighton for only the second time since I moved here in October*. After his rehearsal with the Mike Rosenberg Band, long-time Wolverine comic reader Richard drove me along (entirely willingly) to see the third in the trilogy of X-Men movies: X-Men: The Last Stand. Contrary to all the reviews I’ve read, it turned out to be the best of the three, though I suspect a lot of the grumbles in the press are because journos aren’t quite as familiar with superhero lore as even an occasional graphic novel reader like me.
“Hugh! I love what you’ve done with the vest.”
Interestingly, at least one journalist seems to think that the film’s underlying message isn’t far from that of my parody. (There is, incidentally, already a gay member of the X-Men called Northstar.) But an even more exciting discovery I made was that online superminx Jackie Danicki is a crucial member of the movie’s cast. By day, Jackie is a mild-mannered new media consultant…
By night, she transforms into crime-fighting superheroine Rogue!
*[Brick, a low-budget, self-conscious cross between teen movie and film noir was my other movie excursion and I recommend you check it out when it’s released on DVD.]
It’s certainly very good, but the best of the three? Feh. It’s got nothing to do with superhero lore, either. Simply ask yourself: did you learn anything about any of the characters? Not as in their super abilities, but as in their characters. The answer is no: it relies completely on the first two films to have made the characters interesting and empathetic so that it can get on with action (and redeems itself with some bloody spectacular action, but still). The first two films are good because events occur mainly in order to tell a story about people. In the third film, the people are mere props to enable events. Just look at the characters who are new to this film, with the arguable exception of Beast: Angel only has wings to [SPOILER ALERT!] save his dad from a fall, only exists to provide his dad’s motivation, and only arrives at the school to peruade Storm to take over from Professor X; Colossus is only there to throw Wolverine — despite his having a leading(ish) role, we see less of his personality than in the second film, in which he was a bit-part; compare Leech with the guy in the wheelchair in the second film: they’re both only there to have stuff extracted from them by scientists, but wheelchair bloke had a personality.
If the first film had been made like that, I’m not sure it would have been big enough for them even to have bothered making a third one.
And another thing….
> I suspect a lot of the grumbles in the press are because journos aren’t quite as familiar with superhero lore as even an occasional graphic novel reader like me.
If there is a thing the lack of knowledge of which makes a film worse, it is the director’s job to explain that thing to the audience, not to grumble that they should have gone and read up on it elsewhere. You don’t need to be familiar with the source material for Batman Begins, Master & Commander, Empire Of The Sun, The Shawshank Redemption, Hostage, or The World According To Garp to be good films.
The first two X-Men films were hugely popular with people who’d never heard of the X-Men. If the third film relies on its viewers’ previous familiarity with the lore, then that is one way in which it is simply a worse film.