Friday, June 02, 2006

X-MEN: Why?

I'd heard negative rumblings about X-MEN 3 way before the movie came out. That's what you get for tuning into in unheathly doses. I'd heard that the early script was littered with screw-you moments for the true comic fans: there were surprising and needless deaths, there were plot twists that totally went against not only the letter, but the spirit, of the X-Men mythology. Thus, the hardcore fans had their panties in a bunch long before the movie was released. With Bryan Singer, the director of X-MEN 1 and 2, leaving the franchise to work on SUPERMAN RETURNS, the producers began entertaining a revolving door contingent of substitutes. They finally settled on Brett Ratner, a so-called "work for hire" director who has a pretty decent box office record.

And that's when the fan-call for blood *really, really* began.

Then, when preview reviews began hitting the Net? Ugly. Fans hated the movie but general movie goers who weren't as familiar with the comics...kinda liked it.

That's when I knew that I'd definitely have to see the movie. And pronto.

Now I do like my comics, but I don't read X-MEN. It's more a matter of time constraints than anything, really, because I'm intrigued by the X-MEN world. The parallels it draws to society are cutting and relevant, and I love the characters and their mutant powers. Hence, I went into X-MEN 3 wanting it to be really good and expecting a lot, since I really enjoyed the first two movies. I felt that Singer did a good job of shutting up the naysayers who like to dismiss graphic novels as trash. (How much do you bet these people don't read comics? Ask them to describe *one* they've read recently and you'll find out.) But this third movie?


***spoilers ahead***
Truly, I tried to enjoy it for what it is--a parade of confrontations and explosions--but I just wasn't content with that. Not when such a strong precedent had already been established. I loved the premise (a cure for "mutancy" has been found and this divides not only the mutants themselves, but it pits homo sapiens against the mutants once again). I loved the first two flashbacks, too, because they had some power, mystery, and tragedy to them. To many mutants, their powers are a bane, not a blessing, and this is great fodder for conflict and character growth.

But after the first few minutes, that's where the characters stopped growing.

I couldn't help thinking of how Singer would've treated Rogue's situation in particular. (BIG SPOILER) Here, we have a young girl (in the movies, at least) who feels cursed with her powers to suck the lifeforce and memories out of those she touches. What a miserable existence--but what a springboard to grow into adulthood and heroism. On a human level, it makes absolute sense that the movie Rogue would be drawn to a cure for her "ailments"--I feel sympathy for her there--but what was disappointing was the lack of care the script gave to her dilemma. This girl is "special," with the power to change the world in a lot of ways, but there's no emotional resonance to her decision to give that up and become normal at all. Not even a flicker. And all those X-Men deaths you're hearing about? Inconsequential. They exist only to serve as plot turns and that's about it. Shouldn't the personal destruction have mattered more to the characters? Yeah, token moments are paid to, say, Charles, graveside, but I never got a sense that the deaths shook the very foundations of these people.

After the movie, I started to understand why a true fan would be disappointed. Heck, *I* was not happy. I started to think about everything I've heard about "the Dark Phoenix saga," which is an X-MEN comic storyline that is held in great esteem. It's what X-MEN 3 is supposedly based on. (Supposedly.) It's one of *the* storylines of the entire comic world, as a matter of fact. How, and more importantly, WHY did the producers blow such a promising premise so badly? As a person who loves lore, I just can't understand the carelessness. Why????????

I'm just crossing my fingers for SUPERMAN RETURNS, you all. It's got to make me happier.


Karmela said...

Prof. Xavier DIES???!!!

Don't know if I'll watch it now. Does Magneto at least get punished? And what's this I hear that Jean is BACK? Does she end up with One-Eyed Pretty Boy or with Wolverine?

Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green said...

Karm! SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE REST OF YOU!!! (So don't read unless you really want to know....)

Yup. Not a fun moment.
M does get punished--kind of. As much as a popular movie villain can in this age of sequels, at least. And Jean is sort of back, but the potential for what she returns as is just...sigh. Sad waste of drama. And let's just say she ends up with another realm.

Karm, I think we should maybe both just read the comics themselves, especially the DARK PHOENIX saga. What do ya say? I'm intrigued enough!

Karmela said...

Chris, my sister finally broke down and gave the entire scoop on X3. Suffice it to say I won't be watching it. Not even on DVD.

BUT BUT BUT, I saw the teaser for Superman last night! It gave me CHILLS, especially when I heard that music. Dun dundundundun, Dun Dun Dun.


Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green said...

OMG, I am soooo pumped for SUPERMAN RETURNS. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole Lois-Lane-with-a-baby storyline yet--I'll have to wait and see how it plays out--but the film looks beautiful....