Why I thought X3 was so close, but ended up being so far

Why I thought X3 was so close, but ended up being so far

This may be going back a few years, but after seeing First Class and loving it; I have been revisiting the X-Men movies. I thought one and two were great, and will likely comment on them at some point, but Last Stand got me thinking the most. It had so much going for it and it could have bookended a definitive comic book movie trilogy. Here are my thoughts...

It is safe to say that X-Men: Last Stand was a major let down. Critical reception was low, posting a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, down from the 82% and 88% of the first two movies respectively. Many fans did not like it, as it took one of the most famous storylines from X-Men history and did not live up to its potential. That is my biggest complaint about this movie...it did not live up to its potential. It had so many good moments, so many great opportunities, it was so close; but it just didn’t deliver. I am going to take a look at some of the things I loved from this movie, some of the things I hated, and some of the areas where I think a small tweak here or there would have made a world of difference.

There were a lot of good things about this movie. Perhaps the best thing this movie had going for it was the anticipation. X2 set up the dark phoenix storyline so well. With Jean’s powers increasing throughout the second movie, then her sacrifice at the end, and finally the phoenix flashing over the water where she died. Everyone knew what was coming in the 3rd movie, and based on what we had been given so far, we had no reason to believe it would be anything besides amazing.

The movie opened with us meeting young Jean and the audience was amazed by her raw power at such a young age. It adds to our anticipation...how powerful is she going to be as Phoenix...where is this movie going to go? I was excited walking in and my enthusiasm had only been increased by seeing the potential within Jean.

Then we show up in the Danger room. We have not seen this on film yet and I loved the depiction. A huge, over-the-top battle against the Sentinels (I know, kind of a tease, wish they took it a step further). We got to see the X-Men showcase their powers and work together as a team and this is the sort of fight I had been waiting to see on the big screen since I saw it happen in the 90’s cartoon.

The introduction of Beast! One of my favourite characters and I thought he was played excellently by Kelsey Grammar and looked and sounded exactly as I had imagined. They also introduced the ‘cure’ in this scene. I have read elsewhere that people did not like this plotline; that this should not have been mixed together with the Phoenix storyline. I think it was okay in concept, as there was a lot of room to explore different mutants feeling towards their mutation. It also provided a perfect reason for Magneto to gather his forces against a threat to mutants and we get to see Magneto put his new brotherhood together. However, I do not think the ‘cure’ was well executed overall; it, like much of this movie, came up short.

Basically, I loved the first 25 minutes of this movie. The first time I saw it I went in with such high hopes and was not disappointed. The story was moving along at a great pace, setting up plot elements I was waiting for and it looked like this was going to be an epic conclusion to a great trilogy.

Then they introduced the Phoenix. The decision they made at this point basically ruined the movie in my opinion. They killed Cyclops. His character and been highly underutilized up until this point in the trilogy and I thought this would be the movie that would really focus on him and let him shine, let him be the hero, let him be the leader of the X-Men he is supposed to be. But then they kill him. His and Jean’s relationship is the centre of the entire Phoenix story. She is a being of extraordinary powers, capable of terrible things, and her and Scott’s relationship brings out the little bit of humanity left inside of her. Every scene in the movie after this featuring Jean and Wolverine should have been featuring Scott instead. At this point the movie lost all of its heart. There were some cool action scenes, some great moments that I had been waiting to see...but it just wasn’t the same because the Phoenix story had been gutted of its heart.

Say what you want about Singer, I don’t think he would have let this happen. He understood the emotional undertones that drove the X-Men stories and this was one of the most important. The Phoenix character as depicted in this movie has awesome powers but was very one-note. We needed to see her struggle with her humanity, or the loss of it. We needed to see this through her interactions with Scott. Without this we don’t see Jean anymore, we just see an ultra-powered being that has basically become a bad guy and we no longer care about her. This movie makes us want the X-Men to stop her, but the story is supposed to be that we know the X-Men have to stop her, but we don’t want them to because we still care about Jean. This movie did not have this element and that was its major failure in my opinion.

As stated, the remainder of the movie has some great moments, but was lacking emotion. For example, Magneto’s rescue of Mystique from the travelling prison was awesome. Magneto totally owns an entire convoy of highly armed guards like they are nothing. He finds a bunch of new bad-ass mutants for his team. This was pretty cool. But then they go and ruin the entire scene with Mystique’s de-powering. It was not her de-powering that I had a problem with, but Magnetos reaction to it. All of the X-Men continuity does a very good job of pointing out that Magneto is not evil for the sake of being evil. He always has specific, relatable motivations for his actions. His reaction to Mystique losing her powers was just plain, callous, evil; not what I would expect from Magneto. I would have expected some emotions from this man who just lost his best lieutenant. Be it anger, sadness, regret, mourning...whatever, have some sort of reaction!!! He just walked away like nothing happened.

The scene where Professor X died also could have been epic but was wasted. I liked the argument and differing viewpoints and offers presented to Jean by Magneto and Charles. The fight with the other team members outside was also pretty cool. The effects as the house was being torn apart were also good. I was even okay with Jean killing Professor X, as it demonstrated how powerful she was and how far over the edge her powers had taken her. However, the death would have meant a lot more had Scott not already been killed, as it would have been shocking to have the first team member to die be Prof X. Scott could have been shown attempting to bring her back from the dark side or showing sorrow for how far she had gone. I felt this was another wasted opportunity to bring some humanity to Jean’s character.

There were some other highlights within the movie; Magneto moving the Golden Gate Bridge, the X-Men lining up ready to fight the brotherhood, the Pyro vs. IceMan fight with Iceman getting his full ice form, seeing the full scope of the Phoenix’s power...there was a lot of good fights and cool moments, but by this point all of the emotional resonance had been drained from the movie and these cool moments didn’t really amount to much.

It is too bad. There were so many things done right leading up to this movie and many things done right within this movie. However, there were a few moments that totally changed the direction of the story and effectively ruined it for me. I know that many others were also let down by it. Why did this movie not work for you? Please let me know if you felt the same as I did, or if you hated every moment of the movie, or what parts didn’t work for you.

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Member Since 6/8/2011
Filed Under "X-Men" 6/13/2011
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manymade1 - 6/13/2011, 12:01 PM
My main problems were

1. The huge Brotherhood teaming with the Morlocks
2. Cyclops and Xavier dieing
3. Phoenix having powers that don't make sense(If her telapathy grew, why did they only focus on her disentigration.
4. The overuse of characters
HOOThoot - 6/14/2011, 3:59 AM
At the end of X2 they showed Jean covered in flames like the phoenix is always shown as, but then they just didnt carry that through and that was disappointing. Also Wolverines role in this movie just threw me over the edge, fair enough the first 2 he had a main role because it was him joining the school and getting to know other mutants in a way of finding himself I suppose, they carried that through to the secoud film as the villain had more of an attachment to wolverine. But after that there was no need to make him the central character again.
Poor Cyclops and poor James Marsden, I'm actually suprised he didn't confront the writers/director or whoever about being second best to Jackman character-wise and actor-wise.
Caedus137 - 6/14/2011, 6:02 AM
Here we go again... Queue the lemmings. Honestly, 1 person dislkies X3, then another says "I didnt like it either" and all of a sudden it's automatically referred to as a Bad Movie by you 13 year old spotty, probably American, virgins... The Wolverine movie is now referred to as "Borigins" for some bizzare, linguistically challenged reason... Since I'm one of the few visitors to this site capable of independant, rational thought, I'll leave you by saying that actually quite liked the Wolverine movie and think Last Stand is actually better than 1 & 2.
Knightstalker - 6/14/2011, 6:04 AM
Aside from Jean Grey being more Scarlett Witch than Phoenix, and the death of Scott and Prof. Xavier, I felt that Angel wasn't used to his potential. They started out on a good note with Warren III telling his dad to take his cure and piss off, but there was a whole dynamic between father and son that could have been explored. Also, Angel is one of my favorite X-Men characters and I would have just liked to see more of him in the movie.
Knightstalker - 6/14/2011, 6:08 AM
@Caedus137....Wow! Your arrogance is as astounding as your ignorance. As for being a lemming, look to yourself. "Wahhh! I don't agree with you so now I have to insult you and your country and whatever else I can."
Who's the 13 year old?
Caedus137 - 6/14/2011, 6:09 AM
For the record - that wasnt aimed at you 3 above me, your comments were well made. It just for the slew of Xmen bashing that will no doubt ensue underneath by the same old whiny voices...
Caedus137 - 6/14/2011, 6:12 AM
Knightstalker -I dont agree with you at all mate... Im just a bit fed up with the s.hit that gets posted every single day on here. "This is wrong, thats wrong, they've screwed this up, thats not the same as the comics...." Seriously... I remember the days when a movie came out, you'd go see it, you'd either like it or dislike it, then you'd just get on with the rest of your life. Those days are clearly long gone...
Knightstalker - 6/14/2011, 7:01 AM
I hear you Caedus137. Some of the nitpicking gets a little old. Has it really reached the point where we're bashing the bashers before they've even had a chance to post anything?
Caedus137 - 6/14/2011, 10:15 AM
Knightstalker - Haha! Never thought of it that way! But yeah, it appears we've launcehd a pre-emptive bashing... Maybe I was a little over zealous, but I just get frustrated at all of the petty complaints about the smallest changes to a plot-point or a costume etc, and X-men seems to bear the brunt of it.
Knightstalker - 6/14/2011, 10:19 PM
@Caedmus137....If you think X-Men bear the brunt of it, you should take a gander at all the Superman postings. Those guys bitch about a simple hemline in the costume, not to mention the trunks vs. no trunks debate.
Caedus137 - 6/15/2011, 3:10 AM
Knightstalker - I know, Ive read those through the cracks in my fingers... Funny you should mention the Superman one... Im probably one of the biggest Superman-geeks you'll find, all the way down to having the "S" tattooed on my chest and my name in Kryptonian tattooed on my neck.... But the red trunks / no trunks thing - I honestly dont care! He's always had them, and thats fine. If they decide to change it, thats fine too! There's a fine line between being a Fan and being a Fanatic, I find...
KingRob - 6/15/2011, 10:55 AM
@Caedus137 and Knightstalker, congrats! You guys actually had a simple disagreement, talked it through like civilized people, and ended up both seeming rational and thoughtful. I never thought I'd see it on this site. I am so proud I could cry.
As for X3, I enjoyed it mostly, and like it way more then X1 ow Wolverine. I actually understand Gandalf's point on the humanity that Cyclops brings to Phoenix, i just personally hate the Cyclops character, and therefore didn't mind him dying. Having said that, I may have liked ti better than I do now, if they HAD done it Gandalf's way. I will look at that movie in a new light now, and that's the best compliment I can give a reviewer/columnist.
Knightstalker - 6/15/2011, 12:30 PM
@KingRob...I know, right? It just isn't that difficult to have discussion on this site and bring differing points of view to the table. I wish more people would realize that. Seriously, some of the carping and whining on this site as well as the insults and personal shots below the belt are just too much. I often wonder how some of those people deal with real live people in their day to day lives.
shf4839 - 6/15/2011, 2:16 PM
I agree with everything you said here, I recently put x3 in again thinking time had passed maybe I had not given it a fair shake the first time I watched it, and overall its not a bad movie. There are like you said several missed opportunities and character misuses in my opinion. I agree it should have been scott that rushed in after the xavier was killed it would have meant more this man was the father to him he never had as a child so it would have meant more. Wolverine could have been substituted in scotts place as the one that the phoenix attacked at alkalai lake and the movie could have been much better. A couple of years ago I did a fan fic x4 that brought scott back but dont have access to the harddrive that I saved it to any longer. I also think that ben foster was miscast as angel.
Caedus137 - 6/16/2011, 7:55 AM
Kingrob - "Im so proud I could cry..." Haha!!! That really made me laugh mate. Nice one...
samschoen92 - 6/28/2011, 7:49 AM
Completely agree about Wolverine being overused... he pretty much replaced Cyclops in X3 which is dumb as hell... it was an enjoyable movie but definitely flawed

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