Sunday, May 28, 2006

X-Men 3: One Night Stand

So I saw the movie yesterday afternoon at the wonderful Vista Theater in Silverlake. I've written about the Vista before, when I went to see Sin City. This time proved to be an equally theatrical experience.

As I approached the theater from my lunch venue at Pioneer Chicken down the street, I saw the theater marquee and two billboards promoting the movie. Clearly Fox has gone all out to promote this one as the line wrapped around the block could attest. I step in line and a guy ahead of me points to the Marquee and more specifically the image of Famke Janssen as Phoenix with her head tilted slightly upwards and lips pursed.

Guy: Looks like Phoenix is having an orgasm or something.
Boy Genius Inside Me: How the hell would he know what a female orgasm looked like? Oh right, porn. We're gonna have a geek moment here aren't we?
Me: I actually look at her and think of a christ-like figure. Look at her. Right next to her is the Angel, and on the opposite side is Wolverine looking sorta Judas-like.
Boy Genius: Religious subtext? In leather? Okaaaaay....
Guy: Okay, then who's Storm over there on the end?
Me: (reaching) Mary Magdalene?
Guy: Wasn't she a whore?
Boy Genius: Let me answer! Let me answer!
Me: Which one?

So the line moves along rather briskly and I get up to the window ready to pay the usual ten bucks, when all of a sudden:

Ticket booth: That'll be five dollars please.
Me: Excuse me?
Boy Genius: Don't argue! Just pay it.
Ticket booth: Five dollars.
Me: (slaps a fiver down) Done.
Ticket booth: Enjoy the show!
Me: I think I will.

And then I turned and saw the most outrageous piece of movie hucksterism this far east of The Arclight Cinemas - an employee of the theater dressed in a Wolverine costume complete with metal claws. Only this guy is a Latino. I got him to say "Eh, bub," but it ended up sounding like, "Aaaaay, booooob." Some things just don't work.

So I go inside and bypass the concession stand as I don't want to make a concession to a heart attack, and find a seat. Seventh row back on the left aisle. Screen filled my entire view. I was getting excited already. I looked over all the wonderful "Movie-Egyptian" styled decor - again, I expected Boris Karloff or Glenn Strange to come out as The Mummy and scare us all to death and laughter.

So the ad for the "real butter" on the popcorn starts and the crowd - which is filled with kids with "anime-hair" and slightly older, twenty-something Silverlake hipsters, gets excited. The feeling is contagious - this could be good. Great even.

Then, the theater did something really smart - they ran the Superman Returns and Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest trailers back-to-back, then started the movie. Both trailers were really exciting and really got the crowd going. We were primed, ready to enjoy...

And the movie started.


X-Men 3 is a good movie. Not a great movie, but a good movie. It fits well within the realm of the other two pictures and amplifies some of the subplots that have been building throughout the trilogy.

The opening scene where Professor X and Magneto go to see Jean Grey when she's a child is well done and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. This is going to be war and we're looking at a cute redheaded WMD right in front of us.

The next scene in the Danger Room sets this thought alight with a scenario featuring Sentinels and the near future - after a war between humans and mutants. These are the stakes.

But what makes this movie merely a "good" movie and not a "great" one? In my humble opinion this is a movie of scenes which while powerful each and of themselves with great lines and consequences, they don't stitch together well. I so wish someone had the ability to step back and say, "These are our threads, but what is the tapestry we're trying to weave here?"

The moments are well-staged and well-played and for those of you Ratner-haters out there I have to say, "Drink a cup of shutthefuckup," this was a monumental job. Lots of action, lots of emotion, lots of twists. Again, I only wish they had the time to step back and weave these wonderful threads properly.

I'm not disappointed with the movie, I'm just left with too much of a feeling of wanting more. For example:

I would have liked to have seen more of the debate between Xavier and Wolverine and the consequences of mutantcy. You want that father-figure of the Professor to say, "I love her too, and I'll do what's best for her." Especially in light of the whole conflict between Angel and his father.

I would have liked to have seen more between Leech and his Doctor. A bond there.

The bond between Mystique and Magneto was torn apart, and yet it was unsatisfying in the way it was resolved.

Rogue tries to form a bond between her and Bobby - a wonderful direct counterpoint to the tearing apart of everyone elses relationships. Especially between Jean and Scott (who deserved better).

Pyro is worried his bond betweeen him and Magneto will be broken by the arrival of Jean. Quite frankly, Iceman should have kicked his ass far more thoroughly than he did. I would have loved it if he had frozen Pyro's hands off and smashed them.

I would have liked to have seen more of Moira McTaggart and her relationship with Professor X and Magneto. The scene after the credits was interesting but could have been played better.

Phoenix's demise could have been more glorious and horrific.

The whole movie ending on Magneto was a cop out. There needed to be something else there to really set it off.

Now as you can see by the title, I liked the two hours I spent with X3, but I don't want to hang out with it. It was nice, good even. But it wasn't great.
Unless a miracle happens, I won't get the DVD.

I'm just not that into it.


Christian Lindke said...

You did stay through the credits, right?

As for your critique of the film, I thought you hit the nail on the head. The imagery my wife and I used to describe the flaws was different than yours, but the sentiments the same. The skeleton of the film was very good, but it lacked some of the connecting tissue.

There were a couple of odd edits, in my opinion, but that doesn't ruin a movie. I also thought a couple of the pathos scenes were a couple of beats too long. An ironic statement considering I think the film could have used another 10 minutes of narrative.

Overall, I did like the movie and it continues the trend of good superhero movies in recent years.

Cunningham said...

Yes, that falls under the "cop-out" category same as Magneto in my book.

CD said...

Bill --

I just saw X3 last night and I'm basically with you.

Part of the problem with the Phoenix/Jean Grey storyline is that she's more or less a pawn in the movie. And I think that's because Magneto dominates most of the movie (and rightly so, Ian McKellan is terrific) so Phoenix is somehow less of a threat because she's not acting like herself -- she seems to have no stake in the outcome. What would've been more interesting was to have her be more active in the third act so then when Wolverine kills her, the stakes are really higher. She's doing something she believes in and Wolverine has to kill her in order to do what's best for the world -- even if he'll suffer a huge personal loss. The ending was more like, she basically goes crazy, and Wolverine kills her to save mankind. There's nothing compelling about killing a crazy person.

Overall, it felt like the movie could've used a few more character moments. There were literally so many mutants, no one had time to get invested in anyone.

One thing really did bug me though. Magneto's a supervillian and his army is basically roughing it in the woods with backpacks and tents? What is this Super Hero Burning Man? You can't tell me there was no abandoned warehouses around to use as a base.

Two and three quarter stars for me. X2 was the best in the series (so far).


Cunningham said...


Director Jim Wynorski pointed outthat Wolverine should havepicked up several of the unused darts and stabbed Phoenix with them as well. My thought on that is she psychokinetically disabled all the darts when she threw up her shield.

My gripe is the fact we should have seen more of the world of mutants going in for the cure. More kids voulntarily "selling out". That would have put more of a human faceon the whole thing. Magneto telling the mutants to "rise up and be counted" or something along those lines.

Again - it comes down to threads and tapestry.

Warren said...

Damn! "Scene after the credits"! I missed out that one.

I too shambled over to The Vista to see XM3 this weekend, and I fully concur on the wonder that is The Vista Theater. It's my favorite venue in L.A.

After checking the ticket prices at The Grove (over $25 for two tics), my wife and I buzzed down to the Vista and got in for $8 each ($5 is the matinee price). Huge screen, gorgeous room, giant seats, fantastic sound. What's not to like?

As for the movie, I thought it was good fun. There are a few glaring flaws (and what was with that day to night transition at Alcatraz? Did anyone else notice that?) But overall, I had a great time. And I personally LOVED the Magneto ending. Subtle, but fun. I just wish that I'd stayed past the credits now!