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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fishing in the Discount Bin - X-Men: The Last Stand

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my blogging/ranting about a movie I own.  We're continuing to march through the X-Men franchise with X-Men: The Last Stand.  This is originally in my notes at June 28, 2014.

So, since the first two X-Men films were such monster hits, you'd think that the studio would be begging Bryan Singer to come back, right?  Well...

We all know that, when it comes to franchises like these, the actors are usually signed in for a 3-film contract.  Sadly, such contracts are rarely offered to the creative team.  With X2 a certified hit, Singer entered negotiations with the studio to do X-Men 3.  As already mentioned, tensions were high between Singer and the studio, what with the studio having no faith in superhero films and Singer actually going out and making hit superhero films.  Needless to say, talks weren't going well.  As I understand from what I've read online over the years, talks between Singer and the studio ended like this:

Singer:  Well, I really want to do it.  So how about while our people sort this out, I go make Superman Returns
Studio:  You can't quit!  You're fired!
Singer:  How can you fire me when you haven't really hired me yet?
Studio:  Oh, a wise guy, huh?  SECURITY!

And that's why Bryan Singer didn't do the third X-Men film.  Oh, some of his collaborators  have done cons over the years and hinted at what we would have seen in X-Men 3.  It would have been their take on the Phoenix Saga.  To help Jean Grey control her burgeoning Phoenix powers, Professor Xavier was going to call on the heretofore unmentioned third founder of the school...Emma Frost.  And apparently Singer was thinking Sigourney Weaver as Emma Frost.  I think Frost probably would have filled the role that young Mystique is now filling in these prequel movies. 

Anyway, that's one for the heap of great, un-produced superhero films, along side Kevin Smith's Superman Lives! and Darren Aaronofsky's Batman: Year One

So the search was on for a new director, and that May 2006 release date was already locked in.  Fox found the perfect director in...Matthew Vaughn.  Vaughn was only officially the director for about a month.  I read that the big things that happened under his tenure were hiring Kelsey Grammer as Beast and Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut.  But then, Vaughn left the project because the stars aligned for him to do one of his dream projects:  an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust

The search was on once again, and finally the studio found one in Brett Ratner, who was probably best known for the Rush Hour movies at this point. 

With the changes in directors, and the rapidly-approaching deadline, it's no wonder the film...is not as good as it could be. 

As you'll recall when I did Spider-Man 3, the trend with the superhero trilogies tends to be this:

1)  Origin story
2)  Now that the origin is done, we can do a film that fully explores everything we want to explore.
3)  it's the last one, so fuck it, let's just stuff in all the cool shit people want to see.

And a lot of X-Men: The Last Stand seems like they went down a list of things the fans had been wanting since the first film, and tossed them in.

You want a Sentinel?  BAM!  A Sentinel!
You wanna see the Danger Room?  ZIGGITY ZOOM!  Danger Room!
Dark Phoenix Saga?  SNIKT!  There's your Dark Phoenix!
Hey, didn't that Whedon fella that all the kids love write an X-Men comic?  SHAZOOM!  That's now the plot!
Isn't there a "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" thing going around online right now?  BAMF!  That's in the film! 

That's the problem with just tossing all this stuff in.  The plot kind of gets lost.  There's no...cohesive story arc that we can follow.

I said for the last film, the best thing was that, out of all those characters, each one had something to do and their own little character arc.  Not so here.  Such a waste of the Dark Phoenix.  Jean Grey comes back from the dead, and spends most of the movie just standing around looking evil. 

Cyclops gets the shaft once again as he's killed off just about as soon as we meet him. 

Mystique...busted out of prison, only to be shot with the cure, and turn rat on Magneto when he turns his back on her.  Such a weak end for such a great character. 

I'm sure a lot of mileage could have been had with Rogue and her struggle over to take the cure or not, but it's handled so briefly and so perfunctory.  And I really don't think she would have taken the cure in the end. 

Let's see...the new additions to the crew.  Kelsey Grammer as Beast is pretty darn cool.  I'm sure for the longest time they thought about doing Beast with CGI, but something tells me that Hellboy a few years earlier made them go, "Hmm...maybe we can do this with full-body make-up."  And at the end of the day, what is Beast but a blue, furry Fraiser? 

And Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde!  What a movie to have on your resume as one of your "before you were famous" roles.  A quick Wikipedia check says that Juno came out a year later, and that's what made her a superstar.  She gets a little more to do.  For most of the film, all she really does is look cute, act vulnerable, and bring out Rogue's jealousy.  But she does get to kick a little ass in the climax, which is cool.

And speaking of ass-kicking ladies, we probably have the best Storm in the X-Men films in here.  Storm is given a lot to do, almost becoming the main character at times.  Apparently, that was Halle Berry's request, seeing as to how at this time, she was an Oscar winner and probably the biggest star on the cast, but it works. 

But there's X-Men: The Last Stand.  Lots of good ideas, but they can't get them all together for a good movie.

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