Look, here's your warning: I'm talking about the film. I'm mocking the film. I'm giving away plot points. You don't want to know these things, you stop reading. I am not using a cut. Cuts are for losers.
Upfront: I liked X-Men 2. I thought it was a well done film. It was never going to rock my world, but I thought Singer brought to it a nice sense of subtly, style, and substance, all of which is often lacking in such films. There was always the risk, of course, that the X-Men films would turn into things of spectacle, where only the powers and costume would matter, and would somehow drift down to the stupidity of countless summer blockbuster films; but Singer, with what appears to be the barest hint of slowing down the pace of his films, allows a bit of texture to creep in. But ah, that was a few years back now, and this is a new summer, and Singer is off making
Oh yes. Run, run run.
At the end of the second film, Jean Grey was dead, but leaving a big shadow of a phoenix, so we all knew she would be back. So when the third film opens, a young Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr are visiting her parents, in an attempt to bring her into their school. They talk about how she is the most powerful mutant they have ever encountered and you know that this film is going to be about her, no matter what else might be suggested. And sure enough, she starts calling to her husband, Scott Summers, who goes out to the lake that she died at, and sees her return to life.
And promptly gets killed by her.
Does anyone care?
Sure, it might not make sense, but with Scott Summers out of the way, the Wolverine/Jean Grey romance can take place. It was obvious that his presence in the film needed to be removed. So, beyond the fact that she was married and in love, the first thing Jean Grey does when she returns from the dead is blow the fuck out of her husband and wants to go and shag Logan. Naturally. Hold for a moment here while some people ask where Scott's gone...
Oh, wait, no one's doing that, are they? Funny. He seemed important in the films. Certainly, he seemed like a major character. The leader, you might suggest, though, er, doesn't Storm seem to be rather Scott Summer's like in this film? Wasn't there something about Halle Berry only returning if she had a bigger part? I seem to remember that. Maybe whoever wrote the script just thought it'd be easier to replace the two. It certainly seems to work that way. Still, you really think someone might say when they find Jean Grey lying on the ground unconscious, "Hey, are those Scott's glasses you're holding there, Logan? You think maybe something has happened to him?"
"No, no, I'm sure, like, Jean had a pair with her when she walked out to save us before."
"Like a keepsake."
Yes, well, why not?
So, Scott Summers is dead, and Jean Grey is all powerful and horny. You with me? Good.
In another part of the film, a cure for mutants has been found. This cure, in fact, involves keeping a young boy caged in a room while doctors probe and examine him. No one has a particular problem with this because apparently this centre of disease curing, located on Alcatraz, is complying with all the ethical demands that come with using children in your experimentations. I myself must really look into getting that guideline thing. Anyway, we know that he is the cure, because when Hank McCoy visits the boy, his blue fur evaporates, and he becomes normal. Until he steps away from the boy. Of course, this leads one to thing that, since the cure is injected into the bloodstream, that it might only be as good so long as it is in one's system, but when it goes, well, it's all spikes and sucking your boyfriend's memories out.
Around this time, however, Magneto goes out looking to rescue Mystique. He does this by tossing a few cars around. One flips over his head, in fact. Why? Cause it looks cool, I suppose, though it actually looks stupid. But the point is he's out here rescuing Mystique, because she got caught trying to find the secret behind the cure. If she had only waited a couple of days, it would have been on the telly. And if she had waited a few days, she wouldn't have been shot with the cure, and thus effectively killed within five minutes of being on screen.
Well, near as I could tell, so they could replace her with the Juggernaut.
Yes, that's right, the Juggernaut. The guy who will run fast and bash through walls and, obviously, be the one that goes after the mutant kid who sucks away your powers, and thus get beaten up in a cheap gag. Of course. Naturally. The Juggernaut. Who could have thought otherwise.
It's a shame, actually, that they did away with Stamos's Mystique, as she proved to be one of the more interesting characters in the second film. But perhaps more strange is the way that, once she is cured of her mutant powers, that Magneto simply abandons her. It's as if the companionship that the two shared in the second film--those quiet, laughing moments, and the confidence that Magneto shows in her to do almost anything--evaporates completely, and she is left lying naked on the truck of a floor, while the boys go off to war. Sure, it shows that Magneto is a cold fuck when it comes to humans, but is Mystiique really a human, then? And wouldn't it have been more interesting, I thought, to show Magneto and Mystique's relationship in dealing with this change? There's a lot to work with there, I thought. That could almost be interesting. But I guess that would be a different film, because right now, having gone to track down a horny and all powerful Jean Grey, both Magneto and Xavier find her huddling in her parents old home, like a child.
Which is about where, in the film, Jean Grey disintegrates Charles Xavier. You'll be happy to know he smiles before he dies. He looks over to Wolverine and he smiles and then, well, that's that.
As you might be guessing, the film is about the explodee. The bang. The boom. There's virtually no characterisation in it at all. For example, when Angel rescues his father (yes, yes, Angel is in the film, haven't you seen the trailer?) why does he do this? As far as we, the audience know, Angel's father was trying to "cure" him, so why then, would he risk his life to fly through a battle scene to save him? Since we know absolutely nothing about Angel, one can only suggest that he needs the pocket money. At any rate, when Xavier dies, both Storm and Wolverine are there, and are a bit on the sorry side, showing that emotional range. (Strangely, you might think that while destroying Xavier and lifting an entire house out of the ground and being pissed off in general, more people might have died, but no. No, they did not.) At any rate, they have a funeral for Xavier.
No one says much about Scott Summers. Faculty funerals--there's a limit, you know. Plus, they spent all that cash on Xavier's big grave stone. Look, just don't think about Scott Summers.
But wasn't he Jean Grey's husband?
A major character in the films?!
Surely someone must say, "Hey, what about Scott?"
Maybe it got edited out. Wolverine says, "I think Scott is dead," at one stage, and everyone looks at him confused, so that counts, yes? No? Well, look, he doesn't get a funeral, okay? Just shut up about that.
Anyhow, Xavier gets a funeral, and everyone looks suitably sad. Shortly after, you see Bobby and Kitty skating on ice and touching hands, and though you really have no idea what they're about in the film, the scene cuts to Rogue who, being a hormonal teenager, wants to shag her boyfriend. With all of five seconds given to this weighty decision, she decides to go off and get the cure. No big surprise there, really, but there's no real place for Anna Paquin in this film because her power isn't SF based enough, and so we don't actually see much of her as she goes off and gets her cure, which one might suspect was an important character moment and might actually have been interesting.
But there's no explosions with the cure, you must understand, and the film is concerned with the explosions.
Which is why there is a big fight scene on Alcatraz, where the X-Men run to defend the cure... er. Yes. At this point during the film, I actually thought to myself, why are they doing this? I know it's a stupid thought, but there it was. Jean Grey, I might add, has joined Magneto and is now part of the bad guys, though I couldn't figure out why she did this. Because Magneto didn't want to cage her mind and make her safe? Well, after blowing the fuck out of Xavier, there was small chance of that happening, wasn't there? But she's there, hardly saying a word, until the end, when she and Wolverine go toe to toe and, well, the inevitable happens, and he says, "I love you," when it does.
Does that all sound incredibly pointless to you? You better believe it. It's so shockingly pointless that one the drive home, C and I compared notes on why things happened. Why did Wolverine go to the enemy camp? Why didn't Magneto and the Brotherhood actually attack the clinics that were making curing mutants? Why did they march on the faculty, rather than using their powers, and a little bit of cunning? And why was it that the ice guy and the fire guy, whose animosity was set up in the second film so nicely, have only one meeting in a crowd before going at it with each other in just about the dumbest display of powers that was shown in the film?
Worse, however, is the complete lack of characterisation. The complete lack of small, personal moments that would allow the characters to arise out of their power characterises them mode. I control fire--I'm fire guy, and kind of angry. I control ice--I'm ice guy, kind of calm and collected. And so on and so forth. Even Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen, who have fought so valiantly to draw everything that they can out of their characters, even they are lost in this film, spouting out the angry rhetoric or lost love that the script demands, and letting off quick one liners as the summer blockbuster demands of the hero and villain accordingly.
It is a shit film, yes, oh yes, and an opportunity squandered. Save your money and spend it elsewhere.