Saturday, May 20, 2006

X-men 3, or X3 - The Last Stand,

X-men 3, or X3 - The Last Stand, sees the team and mutantkind as a whole faced with a confusing issue: If you could remove your ability, should you? A vaccine has been developed by Dr. Kavita Rao (played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, who has a voice I could listen to forever) which eradicates the X-gene, rendering the recipient 'normal'. Happily, there is no catch to this, the cure IS a cure and does exactly what it says on the tin. Unfortunately, it is this promise of a new life which splits the mutant world in two and raises some very pertinent questions. Is individuality a blessing or a curse? If we could change, should we? Is conformity a cure or a disease? These questions are most evident in the characters of Angel and Rogue, who represent the extremity of the desire to fit in during youth.extremity of the desire to fit in during youth. The ambiguous nature of this 'cure' issue leads to some interesting decisions on the part of characters who had before seemed a trifle shallow, and it really serves to add the emotional and intriguing heart that made the comics so rich and compelling notably under Chris Claremont's reign. Several times, I found myself thinking that there were little touches that were reminiscent of his style, Storm's two-pronged bitch slap-fest with Callisto being an obvious case in point, and I hope this was an intentional tip of the hat as the Dark Phoenix storyline was undoubtably his finest hour.

Dead at the end of the last film after saving the rest of her team-mates (wonderfully reminiscent of the original Phoenix saga), Jean (Famke Janssen) is back, emerging from her watery grave to be reborn once more. It is revealed that since early childhood when her potential as a psychic was only barely realized, Professor X not only took in a young Jean to train her in her abilities, but also to block and control part of them. That part, he explains, was akin to an unstable dual personality of immense power, was named Phoenix, and has been kept behind a series of mental walls for the protection of Jean and everyone around her.

Guess what happens next.

Phoenix is a beautiful character. Jean is famous in the comics for having died and come back to life an absurd amount of times, almost comic in it's tragedy, but this portrayal is so tragic and fragile it really hurt to watch Jean lose herself to the irresistible power of her other persona. Her sadness in the chaos that phoenix creates around her is touching, and ultimately her actions have a such resounding impact that, like in all final├ęs of a trilogy, all bets are off.

Simon Crane, responsible for most of the action sequences in the film, did himself proud. Starting amazingly with a days-of-future-past apocalyptic scene and climaxing with powerful (and crowded) showdown, the special effects are well used, and in the case of the phoenix/professor x scene, breathtaking.

Sir Ian and Patrick Stewart are, as always, stellar and watchable even at their worst, but that's what comes from a Shakespearean past. I also enjoyed Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), cocky bastard Jamie Madrox (Eric Dane) and thank God Wolverine wasn't the focus of the film YET AGAIN. He suffers from overuse so much it has often provoked me to groan at his inclusion, but thanks to shifting the focus away from his internal struggle (yawn) to his berserker rage (yay!) I found him much more palatable this time around.

Perhaps on the downside (depending on your opinion of the characters), certain members of the x-team were overshadowed in storyline terms. Rogue, her struggle with her ability, and her relationship with Iceman all felt a little tacked on, although personally I wouldn't have minded if this was overlooked altogether. The flipside of this is that the nature of the X-men has always been a transient one, and with so many characters living eventful lives all at once, certain events are bound to be downplayed.

Beast was a character I was looking forward to very much (not furry), and I was very pleased with Kelsey Grammer in this role. When it was announced that he would be playing Beast, I was a bit confused at the initial fan reaction of 'wtf' as it seemed to me to fit perfectly. His gentle pompousness and charm shone through, which countered well by his ferocity in the later fight scenes. He remains one of my favourite characters. (Still not furry)

I'm not saying a word about Juggernaut. Not a damn word.

I loved this film. It could have crushed me and made me hate something that had made me a happy kid and adult alike, but as I queued up for my mobile phone in the lobby (like I could record a whole film on my damn phone, tch.), all I felt was relief. The storyline are a little predictable for sure, but that's the nature of this genre. The trilogy is complete and it was good.

Talking of mobile phones, I downloaded the X-men 3 - The Last Stand Mobile Game game before seeing the movie
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