I know, I know, you're all waiting for more Lord of the Rings, but we saw X-Men: The Last Stand this afternoon and I might as well talk briefly about that while it's fresh.
Short version: starts out better than I expected, but the more I think about it, the less I like it.
There are a great many structural things wrong with this movie, almost all of which could have been fixed if it had been not one movie but two. The cure and Angel would fill one movie very nicely, and Phoenix another. The latter gets ridiculously short shrift here: she kills Scott and the Professor, and then . . . stands around a lot, until she flips out at the end and gets killed. (I have the vague impression that there is a great deal of controversy over the feminist implications of Phoenix in the comic; in the movie, it seems to me it's one of those fake-feminist things, create a very powerful woman—who is ruled by emotion only, is used by others, and then is stopped by a heroic man penetrating her [*]. Whee!)
[*] In a scene straight out of a bad romance novel cover. Seriously, didn't anyone else think that? The guy's naked chest, the swoon backwards, the flowing dress . . .
As that suggests, the thing that would not have been fixed by making it two movies is Jean's death. I admit that the pyrotechnics were effective enough at clouding my brain that it wasn't until I was walking the dog after the movie that I thought, "Wait, are you expecting me to believe that the four shots of the cure that they used on Magneto were the only whole ones left lying around?"
Once started on this train of thought, of course, one can construct entirely plausible ways of stopping Phoenix without killing Jean (that, say, involved teamwork, as they'd made a point of not five minutes earlier?). Or of making her death meaningful and interesting rather than passive. But alas, that's not the movie we got.
Also, the Professor's exposition about the Phoenix was muddled and incomprehesible even for this genre, which is saying something. Seriously, did anyone (who's not familiar with the comic) understand that?
Other random things:
- In the comics, when did the Professor lose the use of his legs? Did it have to do with his falling-out with Magneto?
Dear Hollywood: I would love a prequel that's about the two of them and that backstory. If and only if Bryan Singer would come back. Very truly yours,
- The whole Angel thing was practically a cameo rather than a reasonable subplot—granted it would have been a little "what, another father-son issue?", but still. And did he stow away on the jet, or did he actually fly from Weschester County to San Francisco? (Chad: "he took a commercial flight.")
- Dear Magneto, you couldn't find, say, several big pieces of sheet metal to float your mutant army across? I gotta think that would have been a lot less work. Love and kisses,
- So, did Leech cure himself? That was him at the end hugging Storm, wasn't it? If not, if his power still exists, then what's to stop fanatics from kidnapping him and getting the cure going again? (The eventual knowledge that the cure isn't permanent, as the last scene before the credits suggests?)
- I did like, in the not-very-subtext area, that the new henchpeople that Magneto picks up in the church are all non-white, and that one (the one with the shock waves) appeared to be transgendered (I could be wrong, but that was my distinct impression).
[Edit: apparently I am wrong. See comments.]
I'm not sorry I saw it, but I am sorry that it wasted two perfectly good storylines to the benefit of neither.
Also, the trailers were dire. We got the Superman Returns trailer, which was almost as incomprehensible as the exposition in the movie that followed; The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, a.k.a. another "white American goes to Asia, kicks all the Asian people's butts in competition, and screws their women too" movie; Ghost Rider, in which yet another actor takes a role that doesn't show his face (a flaming skeleton on a motorbike? Seriously?); My Super Ex-Girlfriend, which packed an amazing amount of offense to feminist sensibilities into a very short time; and The Omen remake, to which I can only say, "Why?"
And now, I will go read the Le Guin essay on Tolkien's pacing that rushthatspeaks recommended.