Franchises are always an interesting thing. The current movie is always judged on its predecessors and both movies before this are regarded highly, certainly with both movie fans and comic book fans. But then the previous director, Bryan Singer, was offered his dream movie with the rebirth of the Superman franchise, so this was given eventually to Brett Ratner. Yes, the director of Rush Hour, Red Dragon and Into The Sunset helms arguably the hottest Marvel superhero franchise (You could argue Spiderman, but the X-comics outsell him). Of course, there were worries that the third movie was being brought out far too quickly and someone who is more miss than hit with the average movie-goer, it was with trepidation that this title was reviewed, as I never bothered with it at the cinema unlike the previous two.
So, what's the story here? Well, for true believers out there, they'll know that it's a somewhat bastardised version of the Dark Phoenix saga. As was hinted at in the last movie, Jean Grey didn't die and in this movie she comes back as the dark side of her persona “The Phoenix” (Yes, they dropped the Dark bit). She then goes on a bit of a tear, killing a few people in the process and hooking up with Magneto. At the same time, a pharmaceutical company has developed an anti-mutation gene, which would effectively turn homo-superior back into homo-sapiens. This obviously doesn't sit well with the mutants, especially Magneto, so his brotherhood with the Phoenix are going to destroy the humans and the gene. Enter the X-Men who will tackle both Jean and Magneto and save humanity from possible extinction.
If the movie has a singular failure, it would be it couldn't possibly live up to the previous two. With new blood at the helm, it was never going to be as dark as the previous two, nor was it going to have as much depth. I never considered the first two to be action movies at all - they had sequences, but they had more heart to them, more soul and more layers to their complexity. Here, we have a very action based movie, so it is no surprise that fans of the first two aren't overly happy with this movie. Taking that aside, one has to remember that these movies don't gel with comic book continuity. From the creation of the team in the first movie to the scaled down storyline here, this certainly isn't the comic books and from one perspective we should be happy about that. Don't get me wrong - I prefer the comic books to the movies. They had more going for them - so much so, that the tales couldn't be kept in one comic book! The movies are still fun, but they are lacking in comparison - there's no escaping that. The biggest sin they commit is in the continuity stakes - Psylocke wasn't a Morlock, Leech was a relatively new character, Callisto wasn't Quicksilver, Juggernaut wasn't Vinnie Jones but a huge dumb character, Jamie Maddrox was in X-Factor not in the Brotherhood, the list goes on. Do I sound like a fan-boy? Yes, but even though I'm not, it's a bit like making the Joker Batman's sidekick - totally wrong. I'm sure that this doesn't make much of a difference to the people who've not read the comic books, but picture this. Jean Gray, as the Dark Phoenix, could destroy galaxies and we're not talking the chocolate bar here. Here, Jean Gray is actually more akin to the Scarlet Witch, even down to the clothing, when she went a bit loopy in the comic books - even more so when you consider that the Witch was related to Magneto!
Anyway I digress. The movie, if taken in context as the big finale for the trilogy and not related to the comics is fun. There's a few shocks along the way with some of the characters who die, there's still an emotional heart to the movie, albeit not to the same degree as the previous two and the action set pieces are well done. Maybe a director's cut could flesh out some of the storyline, or perhaps, just once, the studio should have not interfered and cut back on the dark elements that this storyline truly needed to work.
Ultimately this movie is fun, but a severely missed opportunity.
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