X-Men: The Last Last Stand in 2009?
Everyone knows that it isn't a great idea to try and build a house on unstable land. The same is of course true of a film, as foundation is everything and the foundation of X-Men: The Last Stand, namely the script, is shaky at best. The story centers around the fact that the government has developed a cure for Mutants. Now, that in and of itself is a fine idea that could have generated a fine script. However, the builders of this particular script were simply in over their heads. Simon Kinberg should not be penning big budget scripts. The man has failed miserably at every turn. Case in point, he worked on XXX and the modern day masterpiece Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Mr. And Mrs. Smith succeeded due to star power, nothing else. Nothing. Kinberg, should not delude himself into thinking he has a talent for tackling action or big-budget sci-fi based on the success of these films.
Kinberg's partner in the the semi-castration of the X-Men franchise is Zak Penn. Penn was one of the people responsible for Electra. Listen up folks, somewhere out there Electra is someone's favorite film, and that is scary stuff. Electra is seriously one of the worse films in recent memory and the reason is largely the script, as the visual effects and cinematography are fine and the acting, for the most part, might have been passable for an action film with a different script. Penn also wrote Last Action Hero at the rip old age of 25. Do you remember the Last Action Hero? Oh, and these guys seem to like working together. X3 also suffers from oddly placed undeveloped characters and some real cowardly reversals of some key plot points at the end of the film. In all fairness, the later may have been the result of studio pressure in lieu of possible sequels—a la X-Men: The Last Last Stand. Lucky us, huh. Enough said, you should have a feel for the problem by now.
Other problems abound, such as casting. The core group from the previous films are fine, however, the increased role of Shawn Ashmore as Iceman is just painful. Ashmore is simply not believable as a nice guy, which also makes his role on Smallville as Jimmy Olsen just plain scary. Ashmore always comes across as a frat boy serial killer and a smart casting director would only cast him as such. Consistently trying to squeeze Ashmore into the “nice guy” roles is just folly and it hurts the film. As does the painful, painful addition of Vinny Jones as Juggernaut. Ouch. And they put him in a muscle suit.
With all of that said, you may be surprised to read that X3 is not horrible. The visual effects and acting performances save the day and make up for the numerous large holes in the script. X3 is essentially a fun, turn off your brain (like the writers did) set back and have a good time summer blockbuster. This is not to say that what you see on the screen justifies the remarkable $200 plus million dollar price tage. The ultimate product on the screen from director Brett Ratner does not reflect this phenomenal dollar amount. No way, no how. Much of the early internet buzz was centered around the acute fear that the unholy alliance of Ratner, Penn and Kinberg would destroy the franchise, and while that proved to be extreme, there is no doubt this definitely wounded this particular cash cow, but it wasn't a head shot.
X3 is a depressing film whether or not you are a fan of the series as it could have been much, much more than it was. X3 is a perfect example of showing up, collecting a paycheck and not working too hard, at least for the high-profile players involved. From a studio perspective X3 brought in over $400 million dollars making it less profitable than other X-Men films, but still a huge money maker. What saves X-Men are all the “little people” such as the visual effects artists and director of photography who are increasingly working harder and harder to try and save the train wrecks cranked out by the likes of Kinberg and Penn. X3 is only fun due the work of these men and women and not the “creative genius” of Ratner, Kinberg and Penn.
Story C- (The script is not as ridiculous or moronic as Mr. And Mrs. Smith or Electra.)
Acting B- (The strong acting performances by the core cast make up for some really silly casting and script decisions, such as giving Iceman played by Ashmore, a larger role.)
Visuals A (This is what saves the film from being a total disaster as many of the visuals are excellent.)
Originality/Innovation F (X3 is devoid of anything approximating originality, just like Mr. And Mrs. Smith and Electra.)
Enjoyability Grade B- (The visual effects and action sequences make for a fun film. Many viewers will be left wondering if they could write a better script and they will often be correct in this assertion.)
Home Theater/HD Factor A (The visuals are great and X3 will look fantastic on next-generation DVD.)
Overall Grade C+ (Ratner, Kinberg and Penn need to thank the “little people” on this one. Like many of today's big budget, screenwriters like Kinberg and Penn need a army of ghost writers, pure and simple.)