by Aaron Beierle, published on September 7, 2006 at 22:21:18|
The third in the "X-Men" series came under fire for the choice of director Brett Ratner, best known previously for his two "Rush Hour" features. While the film is not the loss that quite a few fans worried it would be under Ratner, there are still some problems that could have been addressed and this is a step down from the great second film.
The picture opens shortly after the events of the second film. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) has died and Cyclops (James Marsden) has become deeply depressed over her loss. Meanwhile, new character Beast (Kelsey Grammer) comes to Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his fellow mutants to inform them that a drug company has announced that it has come up with what it calls "the cure" to the mutant gene.
Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his followers fight against the "cure" (which comes from a young boy, played by Cameron Bright, who has the ability to stop mutant's powers), thinking that this is not a "cure", but the first step towards exterminating mutants entirely. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry) and the others to try to take a stand for humanity.
The picture introduces a series of new characters - Angel (Ben Foster), Beast (Kelsey Grammer) and Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) - but really doesn't find any substantial way to fit them in. This is especially dismaying in the case of Grammer's character, as despite being buried under a heavy costume, this is still the actor who memorably voiced Sideshow Bob - he's capable of a lot more than what he gets to offer here. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), thought dead, is resurrected as the all-powerful Dark Phoenix, but one wonders if the movie could have done more with the character. Overall, while it's fun to see new characters added into the franchise, the movie has trouble fitting everyone in (a couple even leave with surprisingly little explanation) and trying to balance story and action. "X3" is one of those instances where I'd actually have liked a longer movie, which would have helped with character and story development. "X2" was an epic 133 minutes, while the third film is only 104.
Still, the performances from many of the main players remain solid. Jackman is entertaining as Wolverine, although he gets a bit less of a chance to shine this time around. McKellen is as terrific as ever, while Stewart, Anna Paquin and others are fine, as well. While I thought the movie could have done more with Janssen's character, she's good in her scenes as the creepy Dark Phoenix.
While Ratner doesn't handle story as well as previous director Bryan Singer, the film's action sequences are enjoyable and the visual effects are often impressive and the movie remains fun, despite its faults. Overall, a few fixes could have helped, but this remains an entertaining Summer blockbuster.
VIDEO: The review copy that arrived offered the special features that came with the final product, but the video presentation is not the same as final copy. A final review of the video quality will hopefully be done on or around the release date.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1-EX and DTS 6.1-ES (Discrete) audio options are absolutely marvelous, offering a remarkable audio assault without sounding too gimmicky or overdone. Surrounds are frequently put to superb use, offering up an array of effects, ambience and also, refinforcement of the score. Those with a rear back surround will find that this soundtrack puts it to good use, creating a remarkably enveloping audio experience. Audio quality is also terrific, with crisp, powerful sound effects and clear dialogue. Overall, this was certainly one of the most entertaining sound mixes I've heard in a while.
EXTRAS: Director Brett Ratner and writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn and producers Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter offer their thoughts on two different commentary tracks. Thirteen deleted scenes (which includes no less than three different alternate endings - these, along with the post-credits sequence, makes one wonder if the filmmakers had trouble coming up with a way to end the flick) are offered with optional commentary. We also get a couple of trailers for the film, a promo for the next "24" DVD release, a promo for "Night at the Museum" and an animatic scene from the upcoming "Simpsons" movie.
Final Thoughts: It's a step down from the movie that came before it, but, despite some issues, "X3" remains a fun Summer movie.
The Film B