Why Couldn't This Have Been Better?
After recently seeing The Wolverine at the cinemas the other day I decided to go through the X-Men film collection, but this time in chronological order (though I accidentally watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine first thinking it was set earlier), continuing with this.
When Jean Grey comes back from the dead as the Phoenix, all the X-Men, as well as the Brotherhood of Mutants want her, with the X-Men wanting to help her, and the Brotherhood wanting her with them to help stop the mutant cure from going public.
Now I would't say that this was a terrible film, but it is by far the worst from the X-Men franchise so far, with the series going from it's best film to it's worst. The problem I feel this movie had was that it was trying to do too much, by having two different storylines going on, without enough time to properly develop both. Also due to trying to develop both so as the view could understand the story, it made the film slow, and poorly paced. The film also had a few problems, with the writers of X2: X-Men United leaving along with Bryan Singer in favour of Superman Returns, as well as the later signed director Matthew Vaughn (who would later direct X-Men: First Class) also having to leave before filming, but none the less it should have waited, making sure that they produced the best possible movie that they could. Due to this I can't really blame director, Brett Ratner too much, as he was jumping onto someone else's project, but I still can't commend him for his work, as it wasn't that good.
Once again most of the cast from the previous two X-Men films returned in their respective roles, with Hugh Jackman once again doing a phenomenal job as Wolverine, Patrick Stewart playing Professor X perfectly, as well as the other returning cast members, including Ian McKellen as Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm, James Marsden as Cyclops, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique, and Aaron Stanford as Pyro continuing to play their roles brilliantly. I was however not as happy with Famke Jannsen's performance as Jean Grey in this film, as although it was good it wasn't great (though I'll talk more on that later). New cast members included Kelsey Grammer as Beast, Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, Ben Foster as Angel, Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut, Eric Dane as Multiple Man, Dania Ramirez as Callisto, Meiling Melançon as Psylocke, Omahyra Mota as Arclight, and Ken Leung as Kid Omega (though he looked more like Quill). Honestly I was happy with most of these portrayals, though Juggernaut, Psylocke, Arclight, Kid Omega, and even possibly Callisto were horribly changed.
This movie wasn't just an adaptation of one X-Men story, but two, though I will first focus on the main story it was based on, the Dark Phoenix Saga. Now although I'm not as big a fan on this story as some people, I still really enjoyed the story, and was upset when I saw it adapted here, as to be fair it was very poorly done. Now I will start with props on the main change, having the Phoenix as a split personality, rather than an entity, as although it didn't quite feel right, it fitted with the more realistic tone that they wanted. I also however didn't like how they made Jannsen look, as although I wasn't a fan of her as Jean prior to this movie, she looked terrible in it, with the changes actually making her look slightly haggard, as although it added effect, not quite the right type. I also didn't like how they had here sitting on the fence a bit, as although it gave suspense, and drama, it once again didn't feel right, and slowed the film down even more than it already was.
The other storyline that this film was adapted from was Gifted, which had a mutant cure as the focus point. Now that is all that this film takes from this story, and that is in a way both a good thing, and a bad thing, as it could have been better if it took more from the story, but at the same time it could have ruined that story too. I did however like the idea, as I did in the original story, but I also felt that also having another big story along with that was a little much, and the time it took to develop both landed up making the film drag on. I also however liked how it was a mutant that was a cure, also finding it interesting that it was this that would have Magneto's Brotherhood go to war, being very appropriate. I do however overall still feel that it was too much to add to an already risky story, and that it didn't do too much to help things, but besides the pace also didn't do much to hurt it.
This film would see a whole bunch of new villains, as Magneto's Brotherhood would grow adding, Juggernaut, and Multiple Man to their ranks, as well as a group of mutant outcasts called the Omegas, consisting of Callisto, Psylocke, Arclight, and Kid Omega. Now to be honest besides Multiple Man (and possibly Callisto) I wasn't happy with how these characters were portrayed, as although I don't mind change for film, they didn't do these characters justice. I'll start with the worst hit, Juggernaut, as although Vinnie Jones may look the part of Juggernaut, with his overall acting ability being questionable (he's only good in certain roles), he didn't suit the Juggernaut, making him look like a joke, with silly lines trying to be humorous (Juggernaut's not a funny character). The rest weren't much better, as Psylocke did next to nothing, not even having her proper powers, and Kid Omega neither looked like the comic book equivalent, nor have similar powers, and they shouldn't have given the character that name (as I said earlier it'd be more fitting for him to be Quill). The one good thing I can say about Callisto though was that the actress did a good job of having screen presence, giving a good performance (even if she didn't quite look the part).
Now it wasn't just new villains that this film would see, as it would also introduce some new heroes, as well as put the spotlight on characters that were in the background prior. The main new introductions would be Angel, and Beast, both who in the comics were members of the original X-Men, but were now just getting shown in the films. I liked both characters in this movie, and especially Beast, as although he wasn't as good as the Beast that would feature in X-Men: First Class, being a little too tame looking in my opinion, I still loved seeing him, and Kelsey Grammer did a wonderful job. I was however a bit on the fence when it came to Angel, as I felt that Ben Foster did a decent job of the character, but that he felt like an extra, only there for show, and not being used as much as he could have. The returning characters that have have moved into the spotlight in this film were Colossus, who was once again played by Daniel Cudmore, and Kitty Pryde who this time round was played by Ellen Page. I was so happy that both characters got a chance to shine as they are characters that I love in the comics, and after seeing Colossus' small role in X2 I was glad that it was expanded in this. Kitty was also portrayed well, as although she wasn't used as well as she could have during this film, she was still interesting.
The start of this film would show a younger Professor X, and Magneto visiting a young Jean Grey, and here parents. Now before I talk about the scene itself I found the technique they used to make both Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen look younger to be phenomenal, and although I'm glad that they wouldn't use this technique too much in the future (only using it again to show a young Professor X in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), it was nice in this film, and showed just how much special effects have progressed over the years. The scene itself I wasn't entirely fond of, as although it made sense, and was a good set-up, I just felt that it added to the slowness of the film, not giving much to the film bar a decent set-up.
The action in this film was in general very good, as although there wasn't a great deal of it, when there was action it was mostly very good. I really enjoyed seeing Magneto's Brotherhood fighting the military, and X-Men during this film, and it made for a great fight, that was exciting, and entertaining. I was however not a fan of the whole Phoenix disintegrating people, as it just didn't look right to me, but was at times cool. My favourite piece of action however came at the start, with a Danger Room session that hinted at Days of Future Past, and I hope that the upcoming film based on that will be just as good.
This was a very disappointing film, and easily the worst in the franchise to date. It attempted to do too much, being over half an hour shorter than the previous film, whilst wanting to do more, landing up having slow pacing, and poor development. It did however have some good action, as well as great acting, as although there were some terrible actors in this film, most were brilliant. I would recommend at least watching this film once, but otherwise unless you'll only try the series as a whole I wouldn't recommend rushing to buy it, as you wouldn't be missing much.