So geeks like me have not been looking forward to this edition much. Director Brett Ratner was going to direct Superman Returns, and then X1/X2 directory Bryan Singer took over Superman. Eventually, they ended up trading places, and Brett Ratner took over X3. I bought into the geek panning of Brett Ratner. We had the direct of The Usual Suspects, and now we have the directory of Rush Hour? Not much of a comparison!
Thing is, that's quite a good comparison, actually. I mean, dude, I liked Rush Hour. It was a good movie. But whereas The Usual Suspects was all about details, Rush Hour was broad. And that's my first impression of X3: It's broad.
The humor in this movie is broad. Lots of jokes that poke fun at Wolverine and, as the British would say, "take the piss out of him". Geeks might not like that, but hey, they were pretty good jokes. There were even some pretty geeky ideas in this movie. The flaming car scene near the end even made me say, "SWEET." (You'll know it when you see see it.) Thing is, everything's painted in broad strokes; there wasn't much attention to detail. The broad strokes were reasonably pretty and nice, but they don't quite satisfy geeks like me.
I've read that this movie was rushed into production, but the bigger problem was that the movie itself felt rushed (at 1 hour and 44 minutes, including credits). As I said, it had some good ideas, and the central plot point of the Cure was brilliant and appropriate for our times, but they didn't really do much with it. That leads me to...
Demise of the Schematic-based Plan
You know, I was thinking, in a lot of older action movies, ones that took their time, they really knew how to build up to the finale. If the main characters were about to go in for a big fight, or perhaps a heist, they'd plan it out first. The earliest examples of this in war movies was the "sticks in the sand" method. The original Star Wars had its brief wireframe Death Star scene that set you up for the Trench Run. Titanic had the computer animation of the ship breaking apart at the beginning so you'd understand what was happening later. Even the first X-Men had that nifty metal-spike-based map thingy of the Statue of Liberty, remember?
A lot of action movies these days are just action scene after action scene. (I'm looking at you, Star Wars prequels.) They don't give the viewer time to get involved in what's happening. They don't let the viewer in on the layout of the scene, so we don't feel as much like we're part of the action. Instead, we just sit back at a distance and see stuff happen.
I demand the return of schematic-based planning scenes!
I remember when I first moved to this country, and my parents mused on how American action movies always have a bunch of action, then a lull where people chatted, and then some more action. We made fun of that, but it was actually a brilliant and effective device! The lull set you up for the next action scene, and so each action scene became more enjoyable and memorable. Quality over quantity, people! We're losing that!
Still, in the end, I went into X3 with low expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised. It'll probably be one of those movies that I like less the more I think about it, so I'll try not to think about it too much. :)
(Holy crap that was a long-ass rant. That's what happens when you try to review a movie at 4am, I guess! Compare to my mere 160-word review of X2. :P Oh hey... that link is to my review of 8 sequels and a remake, all from the summer of 2003, and we're getting sequels to 3 of those sequels this summer! (Plus, there was already another sequel to Matrix, and T4 is in the works.) Up next: Dead Man's Chest and 3 Fast 3 Furious.)
P.S.: Be sure to stick around until the end of the credits!