Friday, May 26, 2006

X-Men: The Review

X-Men 'The Last Stand' is supposed to be the last of a cash cow trilogy that will satisfy the comic book geeks and a finale that will put to rest the many movie adaptations of the Marvel comic book superheroes. Yet, X Men has more to it than it's apt epigraph ' The Last Stand'. Judging from the movie's main theme of moral and ethics, an action story that is typical of a superhero movie is degenerated into an elaborate debate of moral belief. The debate is drawn onto the need for a cure for the mutants or the freedom to be what they really want to be. Take that and pour a generous douse of cliche phrases like 'With us or against us' and you get a tale that is deviant from it's supposed superhero versus Bad guy theme but instead a story with a hint of political satire.

X Men was supposed to be a no brainer flick that would appease both the comic book geeks and adolescent movie going crowd with tons of wham bang action scenes. At least this was what they expect anyway as I was surrounded with kids that were born in the decade after me. What they did not expect was a story filled with an overriding theme of moral and ethics that will surely confuse the kids who just wanted to eat popcorn and cheer Wolverine.

Of course to the more mature audience, this last part of the trilogy was worth the money as the director took pains to address more complex issues rather than just outright unneccesary violence. Compared to the other two films before, 'The Last Stand' was indeed an appeal to the audience to take a stand between the need for a cure for their beloved mutants or to let them freely reside as what they are amongst humans.

And like lawyers, Magneto pushed for the case of the latter citing the 'cure' as an euphemism for the destruction of the mutant race. Something that he will never allow to happen. So he seek an army of like minded mutant individuals to lay seige on the research facility that manufactured the cure. Filled with misfits like Vinnie Jones' Jaggernaut and psuedo Goth- like mutants, the cause was noble but the act unintentionally hilarious. When the film reach it's climax where Magneto ordered his army to destroy the facility, his line 'pawns die first' left me cringing in my seat as his original intention was to preserve the mutant race.

Yet beneath the main theme of moral and ethics, the complex love story of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine proved to be a poignant moment as it touched on the softer side of the often brusque Wolverine, who has shown that he is capable of love as well.

Director Bret Ratner decided that his approach towards a Marvel Comic Book movie adaptation should be focussed on characterization and his portrayal of the main characters is this movie sufficently achieved his aim, especially in the case of Jean Grey, Wolverine, Cyclops and Magneto. However, this resulted in an overemphasis that took up too much screen time resulting in the lack of development of the other characters. And it was especially most glaring when he failed to expand on his character, Angel, who was introduced as a small boy in the prologue but diminished to a cameo later on in the film.

As such, the 103 min long movie was too contrived to allow sufficent development of characters as Ratner's mutant cure debate took centrestage. Balancing characterization, moral and ethics debate alas, took the gloss away from a film that was supposed to be every comic book geek and kid's dream. What they paid for was to see a high octane and mindless action flick but they had to settle for an abstract(at least at their level) discussion of moral and ethics. Granted, there was action when Magneto discombobulated the whole San Francisco(bridge and Alcatrez included) for his sole aim of defending his stand and that was what I came for, not for a discussion on morals and ethics.

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