Tuesday, June 13, 2006

MOVIES: This is not a Review, This is not a Rant, Just an observation of X-MEN 3: The Last Stand

Summer is finally here and like everyone who enjoys Big Blockbuster extravaganzas I was eagerly anticipating X-Men 3: The Last Stand. I saw the trailers, I was nervous that they would be doing drastic things, but I did not read too much into the hype all of the fan boys and movie critics heaped onto the film, good or bad. Where I had my moment of clarity is when my close friend Ori, who like me, is a comics fan. (He is also an excellent artist and will soon be an artist on any of the top comic mags in the industry.) Ori told me that they butchered the Phoenix saga story arc, for those uninitiated the Phoenix saga was one of the milestone comic stories in Marvel and in perhaps comicdom history. It ranks up there with the death of Gwen Stacy in Spider Man and the first appearance of Galactus the world devourer from the pages of Fantastic Four.

Now I know you are looking at the date on this blog and you are thinking, Jeff, the X-Men movie came out like three weeks ago, what's more to say it made millions at the box office and stands fourth in the biggest opening of all time, obviously no one needs to hear your opinion. I couldn't disagree more, the reviews were OK to bad on this film from the mainstream critics, but it did seem to me that the people who really got into this movie, the people who really loved every frame of it were people who have only seen the movies and were not big fans of the comic or just had no knowledge of this particular storyline altogether. Now I am not saying that when making a comic book movie you have to go out of your way to please the comic book geeks like myself who know these particular stories. I don't think you do, look at Spider Man they retold the Gwen Stacy bridge throwing scene from the first movie A: They replaced Gwen with Mary Jane. B: The Chick didn't die in the movie. Why were there no boycotts on this, I think it's as big of a change as the one in the X-Men. The reason I think is the themes, even though there were some cast changes and plot changes the ultimate theme of the story remains consistent about a unlucky loser kid turned Spider-Man who faces up to his responsibilities and attempts to balance his dual life as a struggling anti-social student and as a web slinging hero. Sam Raimi does a phenomenal job here. So why is X-Men such a disappointment for us sticklers for storytelling---Because the themes are all wrong! Almost all of the original X-Men except for Cyclops act out of character for their respective personalities.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you were one of the few hundred million people who have yet to see this movie, please do not read any further.

If you were a follower of the first two X films you would see an interesting progression in character development. Scott Summers (AKA Cyclops) is worried for his girlfriend Jean Grey because her mental powers appear to be more than she can handle. I realize that Cyclops part has been slowly diminished after each film, but I think James Marsden does a decent job of understanding the strong bond between Scott and Jean Grey. From even the first X movie Cyclops understands almost as much as Xavier how powerful Jean really is and what could happen if she lost control. Now we come to the third film, where poor Cyke is grieving terribly for the loss of Jean at the end of the second film. He goes back to Alkali lake to deal with his demons and discovers that his lost love is actually not as lost as everyone had thought. So instead of an interesting psychological story of the constant struggle for power over true love, the writers of X 3 decide to kill the lover and replace him with someone who is not particularly known for his romantic outbursts or sad sack emotions: WOLVERINE. Yes, that's right the writers of this film have decided that because Wolverine is so popular he could do multiple rolls in the film, in the beginning he plays himself Wolverine, by story's end he is playing the roll of Scott(Cyclops). This movie has taught me a valuable lesson in what you wish for, because, we got it. Everyone thought it would be cool to do the Phoenix story; the problem is this story may be too big for the movies. Personally I think they should not have done it at all, or it should have been the main and only story. This particular story is about a love between Scott and Jean and how their love is so massive, that their bond is so great that it can penetrate the greatest power in the universe, the Phoenix. That theme was completely ignored by the writers Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg, they obviously didn't get it, and the only solace I have to look to is that even though this film made a crazy amount of money opening weekend, it fell off by about sixty percent the next weekend, the reason I think is that no one liked it enough to go back.

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