X3 set a box office record this weekend with a $120 million haul, but that does little to change that this was by far the worst installment in the series, and that is as pleasantly as I can put it. What I really want to say is director Brett Ratner is a club, and the X-Men are a baby seal.Alternate title #1: X3: Try to Guess Why They Fight. Does it really matter who is fighting for what and why people are angry at each other? Magneto's bunch has a clearly defined purpose, and that is to go to the research center and get rid of the mutant who is key for 'the cure'. I can understand that. Hell, any fifth grader could get that from one of the 30-second TV trailers. (What you could also get was 80% of Angel's screen time, but that is for later.) What I missed was why the X-Men were making a "Last Stand" against them. No actual logical reason is ever given in the film, so the best reason I can postulate is that Magneto is 'bad' so therefore the X-Men must oppose him. With such compelling passion behind their arbitrary choice to fight, you can imagine how powerful the picture's 'climax' was.
Alternate title #2: X3: No Stars, All Cameos, All the Time! The Ratner method of jamming as many mutants into a film as possible in order to up the 'cool' factor had one inevitable side-effect: Loss of character development. Multiple Man has two scenes: when he is introduced and when he is captured. I didn't think it was possible, but I'm quite sure Colossus had less screen time than he did in X2, when he really was signed up for a cameo instead of being one of the "Last Standers". And Angel, much promoed and hyped, honestly didn't have much more screen time than you saw in the trailers, and his purpose seemed to be some kind of hackneyed symbolism for father-son-mutant-human reconciliation. Or something like that. Hey, if Ratner didn't have to think it through, why should I?Alternate title #3: X3: Darker, and Stupider. Having more cameos does present a small problem: How do you get more mutants in the picture, but still retain its 'edge'? I know: kill off some major characters quickly! One can make excuses for retarded individuals who confuse things which on the surface may seem identical. Now is the time to learn the difference between death and emotional resonance. Brett: a higher body count does not necessarily equal 'dark' or 'impactful'. Sure, it's a bit of shocker to see you whack some major characters in the first half of the film, but treating everyone as expendable without so much as a purpose makes the film feel like playing a video game.
And if you DO happen to stumble into a powerful moment, don't just cut to the next scene. Give your audience time to process what has happened. I'll give you an example, but it comes with a minor spoiler. Humans have developed a gun that fires 'cure darts', and if you get hit, you're 'cured' of your mutant powers. Mystique steps in front of one of these darts and saved Magneto. She basically turns into a (covered-up) naked Robecca Romijn. At that point, instead of helping her, Magneto abandons her, telling her she is not longer 'one of us'. Interesting twist, thought-provoking, and of course never brought up in the film again. What's more, we jump-cut to a scene in the White House where the Beast is talking about... well something, but of course I'm still trying to process what just happeend two seconds before. Give your audience at least a few seconds to think. Hell, Bryan Singer would have likely devoted half his film to that concept.
Alternate title #4: X3: The Greatest Hits So Far! Much was made of Ratner's adherence to the comics as canonical source material. About how he was putting in a bunch of classic scenes from the comics. And he succeeded in representing. I won't lie by saying there aren't some cool moments in this picture (mostly delivered by Ellen Page's Kitty Pryde), some good one-liners, and some neat parts. However, as you might suspect (unless you are say... Ratner), piecing together a film from spare parts and arbitrarily selected scenes is the surest way to lose any hope of having plot, character, continuity, or development.
Alternate title #5: X3: Yeah, Storm still Sucks It's become something of a inside joke in the films that Storm, who can control the weather, can fly, and can shoot lightning bolts out of her fingers, always seems to get her ass kicked by someone who jumps or runs fast. With all the characters getting killed, couldn't they just whack her, too? No, of course not, Halle Berry, Oscar Winner. We wouldn't do that to you.
You know that scene in Fight Club where it's asked what celebrity you'd fight? Ratner. I'd fight Brett Fucking Ratner. No force on earth can stop him now, who thanks to getting a huge box office take has likely somehow self-validated his 'talent' and gotten the same numbskulls who thought it was a good idea to get him to do this picture to come up with an X4. Should that come about with Ratner's steely vision at the helm, it will likely be the Batman and Robin of the series, killing off all possibility of a fifth until someone comes along ten years later and makes a prequel. And then rinse and repeat.
UPDATE: The folks over at Cinescape have a pretty similar view. Although Kurt Amacker starts by saying he doesn't think Ratner is the anti-christ, he can't help (as I couldn't) descend into a long, thoughtful rant about the film.
UPDATE2: My sentiments better encapsulated by Diesel Sweeties.