Exclusive Interview: SCREENWRITER SIMON KINBERG TALKS X-MEN: THE LAST STAND - PART 1
In part 1 of iF's exclusive interview Kinberg dispels myths about Sentinels and wishes he could've used Gambit
By SEAN ELLIOTT, Associate Editor
Love it or hate it, call it a box office flop even though it broke records, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND has certainly made an impact at the box office and in the hearts of comic book fans everywhere. One of the men directly responsible for that is screenwriter Simon Kinberg who together with his writing partner Zak Penn were with the project from the beginning.
iF MAGAZINE: Were you brought in after one whole version of the film had been rejected?
SIMON KINBERG: No. Actually, Zak [Penn] and I were brought in separately. Bryan Singer had left to do SUPERMAN and Bryan took his writers with him to work on SUPERMAN. They had talked with Fox about a general direction for X3, but they had never written an outline, and they had certainly never written a script. Fox hired me about a month after Bryan left to start to write the script. They wanted to start production in July of the following year. I had seven or eight months to go from start to finish to have the script ready to go into production. I started writing for a couple months, and Fox did what many studios do now especially on these big tent-pole films, which is they hired another writer to write a separate simultaneous draft. They had done that with FANTASTIC FOUR, and Warner Bros has done that on several of their superhero movies. What happens 99 out of 100 times, is different writers write different drafts, and then another writer is hired to create a Frankenstein draft that combines all of the different and best elements of each separate draft. That was the path we would have been on, but Zak and I, instead of competing and looking over our shoulders, contacted each other and decided to write the script together. Given the short time frame, and the fact that both of us are collaborative guys, we had the same sort of sensibilities about this movie. In January or February of last year Zak and I decided to join forces and become a proper writing team. We�d never met before, let alone worked together.
We started doing outlines and started writing a draft together and then in February of last year Matthew Vaughn was hired to be the director of the film. We worked incredibly close with Matthew, and wrote a very fast sort of structural draft so they could budget and start prepping the movie. The dialogue and nuances of it weren�t there yet, but certainly the structure of it was. We worked with him for three or four months, and then Matthew ended up leaving the movie for personal reasons in June or July. The movie was hurtling towards production, and they needed a director to come in with about six to eight weeks of prep, and make the it work.
Brett was one of the only directors that the cast felt strongly about, and who was willing to take on that very daunting challenge.
KINBERG: There never was a Sentinel script that veered away from the story we ended up with. I have no idea where the rumors came from, but it may have something to do with the Sentinel in the danger room. It also might have something to do with the fact that there was an earlier draft of X-MEN 2 that had Sentinels in it.
iF: How much research did you do in the writing of the script?
KINBERG: I�m a huge X-MEN comic fan, and I grew up a huge X-MEN geek. So, I had read the vast majority of the comics that were in my lifetime, and I was certainly familiar with the Phoenix Saga. I went back and re-read the Phoenix comics in great detail. Not just the [Chris] Claremont saga, but also the other incarnations of the Phoenix over the X-MEN�s history. We did a lot of that type of research, and Zak and I photocopied pages that we felt were especially relevant and posted them all over our office. The walls were literally wallpapered with pages of comics.
iF: You also brought in elements of the most current X-MEN storylines like Joss Whedon�s ASTONISHING X-MEN as well correct?
KINBERG: One thing that I knew going in was that it was going to be the Dark Phoenix story since Bryan had laid the groundwork for that in X2, but what we didn�t know was what the other parallel stories would be. I think everyone felt that one of the strengths of the first two X-MEN movies was that they had a number of parallel stories. In many ways the Phoenix story is the emotional �A� plot of the film, but the political �A� plot of the film became about the cure. That was actually a studio executive�s idea. One of them had read Joss Whedon�s gifted run with the mutant cure in it and thought that would be an interesting quandary for the characters. One thing that you�ll find when you look online, is that whether fans do or don�t like this movie (and the opinions are pretty wildly diverse as you can imagine), they certainly acknowledge that there is a lot of the comics represented in this movie. I won�t claim credit for anything good in the movie except Zak and I are the biggest X-MEN geeks that were anywhere around this film with the exception of Avi Arad. Zak and I were certainly the ones on set everyday, who were fighting really hard to shoehorn everything into the movie that we loved about the books.
iF: Was Alan Cumming in the original script as Nightcrawler?
KINBERG: I don�t know if Alan backed out or whose decision that was. There was a draft of the script where Nightcrawler had a cameo but not a big part. I think the studio felt that either we should give Nightcrawler a major story since he was so well established in X2, or we would do sort of what the comics do, which is to move onto another story with a new set of characters knowing that Nightcrawler is out there in the X-Universe and can possibly return for some other X-MEN movie in the future. Bryan did such an excellent job with Nightcrawler in X2 both in terms of representing his powers and giving him an emotional arc, that there wasn�t much left to do with the character in X3. It also felt like he might tread a little bit on the terrain of Beast; in terms of similarities in the characters and their political standpoints in terms of dealing with their mutancy. We ended up jettisoning the character.
iF: Were there any other favorite characters that you wanted to use in X3 that you didn�t get to use?
KINBERG: I think the one character we really wanted to find a way to include in the movie, and ultimately just couldn�t find a way to do it, was Gambit. We wrote a cameo for him, and then really felt like it was better to save Gambit and give him a major role in a future X-MEN movie, rather than give him a cameo where fans would be saying "that�s all I get of Gambit?" The plot that we chose for the story, felt like it was so good at introducing Beast and Angel, because of the department of mutant affairs and Warren Worthington the first being the creator of the cure. It all felt very right and very resonate. Finding a place for Gambit where he wasn�t going to be just one of the team didn�t come to us. We didn�t want to introduce a fan favorite character and not be able to do him justice. There just wasn�t enough space in this movie.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF iF'S SIMON KINBERG INTERVIEW
Stacie from Earth sez....
I agree w/everyone! I think all the X movies have been good the first being my favorite! X-3, however just gave me an icky feeling all over!I mean I liked the movie and I didn't like it, does that make sense to anyone? What I don't get is why Rogue's character after being one of the main characters in the first two was kicked to the kurb...huh? There was the perfect oppt. to introduce Gambit seeing as how Rogue & Remy are enamoured of one another in the comics....It could have been the just the "cure" Marie needed,were Bobby AND Logan were concerned...hehehe! And that whole Logan, Rogue seen when she was bolting to go get the cure..."I'm not your father, I'm your friend" what did that mean? Was he letting her know, he did NOT want her to think of him in a fatherly way? Rogue to me is such a great part, her character in the comics is polar opposite of that in the movies... She should have been developed to her potential, and allowed to do what she does best, and that is kick butt! Another canundrum I have is the clip @ the end of the credits everyone waited to see..if they are not making anymore X movies, what was the point? If the writers for the Wolerine movie wants some GREAT idea's they should go online and read some of the Fanfic I have read...some of those ppl should be on Marvel's payroll!!
7/5/2006 11:28:37 PM
Messor from Canberra sez....
"what everyone seems to forget these day is that a film is completely different to a comic/novel," I haven't forgotten. I'm just sick to death of that excuse. They can do a much better job than they did. "its asking a bit much for any screenwriter to trawl through all of that and come up with something that not only pleases EVERY single person" I'm not. I'm asking them to trawl through the less than four hourse of existing *movies* and come up with something that will please fans of the first two. Two movies have already done, imo, a brilliant job of capturing the X-Men. The third does not follow them successfully. Again, imo.
6/24/2006 9:12:58 PM
Shawn from Nashville, TN sez....
I have to agree that they ventured too far from canon on this one. I still remember when X-men #136 came out and Marvel received over 100,000 funeral arrangements for Jean. I always felt it was a slap in the face that, years later, they told us it was never Jean to begin with and that she'd been on the bottom of the Hudson all that time. In all honesty, I didn't feel like there was any reason to pursue Phoenix at all. They certainly didn't give good reason for Jean to "die" in X2. Bobby could have easily frozen the wall of water she was holding back, creating an ice dam and keeping her from being washed away. I honestly feel like this movie would have been far better served with a nightmare of future past feel to it. Sentinels would have seriously rocked if the danger room sequence was any indication. Other issues I had with X3: They use the mutant "cure" on Magneto but kill Jean - how stupid is that? In canon, the Phoenix ultimately sacrificed herself protecting Scott Summers, yet in X3 she kills him - again, how stupid is that? No Russian accent for Colossus - why? Why not Kitty/Piotr relationship? All action and little to no story. I had a hard time even caring when they killed off Jean. In canon, if Kitty had phased someone half into the floor and released, it would have killed them - Juggernaught or no Juggernaught. Her power works by phasing her molecules through those of solid matter, so if she were to dephase inside or partially inside a solid object, that object's molecules would be intermingled with her own, resulting in death. Further, the fact that Leech negated the Juggernaught's powers was stupid. Juggy isn't a mutant and Leech can't cancel out magical abilities.
6/22/2006 8:09:11 AM
Nate from england sez....
what everyone seems to forget these day is that a film is completely different to a comic/novel, theres been over 40 years of X-Men comics... tbh i think its asking a bit much for any screenwriter to trawl through all of that and come up with something that not only pleases EVERY single person who's ever read the comics and everyone else who's never heard of them. i've the utmost respect for what these guys have done and yes i would have liked to have seen gambit and many other characters but its not feasible to put the 15 or so main characters in with many more, how many films have you seen that everyone enjoys and have almost 20 character arcs to portray? just look at it as a way to spend a few hours getting away from the real world and try to get some enjoyment from actually seeing a large chunk of the X-Men realised in film form or you can sit and complain about it but when it comes down to it remember your still gonna be in line waiting for the next one. peace out.
6/21/2006 7:16:24 AM
Joe Centeno from san antonio texas sez....
make a lot more
6/19/2006 5:53:22 PM
grg. from brl. sez....
BEST X-MEN MOVIE. ONE OF THE BEST SH BASED MOVIES EVER. HANDS DOWN.
6/18/2006 7:41:09 PM
Messor from Canberra sez....
I didn't go to see 'a movie'. I went to see 'X-Men', something based on the comics. I kinda got that. But this interview reveals to me a lot of what went wrong; starting with: "Bryan Singer had left to do SUPERMAN and Bryan took his writers with him". Sorry, Mr. Kinberg; I can see your passion, but you just did not do as good a job as the earlier writers. This movie was nothing to them; the first two are my favourite movies. Another big thing that went wrong, a huge thing, my second warning sign months before I saw it (the first being the change of director): "Zak and I were... fighting really hard to shoehorn everything into the movie that we loved about the books." Yeah. You crammed way too much in. I wish you'd thought "Finding a place for Gambit where he wasn�t going to be just one of the team didn�t come to us. We didn�t want to introduce a fan favorite character and not be able to do him justice. There just wasn�t enough space in this movie." about the Dark Phoenix saga, Psylocke, the cure, Arclight, Angel, Beast, Juggernaut, Quill, Spike, Trask, Callisto, Days of Future Past the Danger Room the Sentinels (all in one big, cool, Terminator homage), Caliban (in the form of Callisto), etc... Too many notes! It *was* an enjoyable movie, but nothing like on the level of the first two. There was just too much crammed into it, meaning no meaningful time was spent on anything. I may be the only one who liked the "I'm Juggernaut" . :/ Oh, and since when does Storm being leader mean Wolverine takes command?
6/12/2006 10:05:57 PM
Ray from Florida sez....
To Nate who says he doesn't read comics, about 90 or so percent of X-Men members have either died or lost their powers in the comics, then resurrected or regained their powers including our dear boy Cyclops. Nothing is sacred in the comics and they shouldn't be in the movies either.
6/12/2006 5:34:01 PM
nate from port city sez....
im not a very big comic fan but even i know that cyclops doesnt die i mean he is the leader of the x-men team the movie was ok but they left to much loose they left it open to have a shot at a seconed one but the only thing that i though was qa bunch of bull where was colossus he had 4 lines at the most in the movie oh and they showed him throwin wolverine two times and throwin a couple jabs the best part he had was when he walkin down the hall carrying the tv under his arms come on i mean he needed more and so did angel they made him look like a sissy ewww he saved his dad he didnt even stay to help
6/12/2006 4:39:34 PM
Luke from bored at work sez....
I dunno what is wrong with the majority of you fans. X-men the last stand was an enjoyable movie. This coming from me is compliment as for months prior I was on the bash Bret Ratner wagon. Sure the flick is riddled with lame moments and dialogue I.E. "Do you know who I am? I'm the Juggernaut bitch!" Though despite 12% this was an entertaining movie and is not deserving of the flak that has been getting. Alot of you are gripping about how its not true to the comics. So what everything still had the soul of the comics and thats all thats important. In fact it was very reminiscent of Joss Whedons "Astonishing Xmen". Comics although great have ridiculous stories that only work in the relm of comics. Try explaining your favorite story arc to a non comic reader and they will think your nuts, so it wont work in cinema. If a major change is made to a character then deal with it and be happy you saw them at all. Obviously Phoenix and Juggernaut had the biggest alterations and rightly so. Does anyone remember their comic origins? The movie was a major imrovement while still making them cool. That scene when phoenix roast the professor was incredibly intense. " you dont kill the professor!" DID ANY OF YOU MORONS STAY STILL AFTER THE CREDITS?? Also the cure is NOT PERMINENT ( hello the chess piece moves) also rogue wanting to and getting cured was perfectly relevant to her character.
6/12/2006 2:30:09 PM
tru from newyork sez....
wow all of you are a bunch of haters and thats why none of you should ever be writers you are all way too closed off to ideas. the whole idea to writing well is to present an insurmountable problem and find a solution to it , and one that wont be obvious. A good writer will always find a way to repair or make a seeming bad mistake work to their advantage. The movie was good... it showed just how confused the world is ..to them , how confused they were. How magneto's cause was so easy to go with and most importantly showed the divide in the x team.. and that proffessor x's ideals and actions sometimes conflicted with his own students beliefs. I applaud them for their hard work and as a true comic fan appreciate what they were able to do because it takes to long to introduce certain concepts in a movie otherwise it becomes crap just like the stuff you all are writing about the movie. so grow some balls and stop whining about certain things not being in their, if you cant do it well dont do it at all. oh n stop hating on wolvie he's always been a pivotal character n just like the actual phoenix saga scott couldn't do it .. so who does that leave wolvie somone who could get through to jean and not hesitate to kill her if she didnt comply.
6/12/2006 12:14:09 AM
Perrin from Vallejo, CA sez....
I read somewhere that storytelling (i.e., spinning a yarn for a group of kids sitting around a library) is related to, but different from, story writing (i.e., the books in the library where the kids are sitting). Comics and movies are in the same boat: you can take characters from one to the other, but there will usually be something lost in translation. Obviously, it's a lot easier to take a movie character and make a comic book out of him/her/it, but that doesn't stop folks from trying in both directions anyway. The Danger Room is as much a part of the X-Men legend as the inescapable presence of the 24th letter of the alphabet on all their gear, but the very nature of the D-Room makes it really difficult to incorporate into a movie. I would have thought that Cyclops' introduction of it to the 2nd team in "Giant Size X-Men 1" would have been perfectly acceptable, but hey, as I'm not a professional screenwriter, what do I know? For my part, I would dearly love to see an entire production company spun off of Fox devoted specifically to making Marvel movies... apologies for the excessive alliteration... with an unlimited budget and access to a pool of highly-talented unknowns just waiting for their chances to break into movies. Or even second-stringers; it worked for JMS and "Babylon 5", didn't it? Dammit, I want to see Gambit on the silver screen, and I want Doug Ramsey and Warlock to have another chance to earn their 'X'-uniforms. But until then, I'll settle for half a loaf and let Big Name Actors(tm) shrink the effects-budget to cover their salaries... and still see the movie, as opposed to waiting years while the aforementioned highly-talented unknowns get old, waiting for the producers to get the money together on the strength of the property, rather than the property *plus* the actors.
6/11/2006 1:37:04 PM
Jim from wisconsin sez....
Btw, my favorite X-book of all time is the current Astonishing series. cough, from the mouth of our editor in chief, Joe Quesada: "I�d like to focus more on Joss� take on X-Men. Whedon-san has shown us the way. I believe all our writers and editors do as well. The path has been shown, we just need to walk down it now. Oh, and less Wolverine showing up everywhere, which is something we�ve already started to do" hmmmm....
6/11/2006 9:57:01 AM
Jim from Wisconsin sez....
Hey, Steve from Michigan, two things. One, I typed that pretty fast about 2 minutes before I had to go to work. And second, I'm not your bro, chief.
6/11/2006 8:24:51 AM
A.J. from N.Y. sez....
X3 sucked so bad!!! cyclops died!!! what- the- hell? and freakin' wolverine had to steal the show! i hate him! I think Hugh sleeps with both bryan singer and Brett Ratner!!!
6/11/2006 8:11:15 AM
Ray from Florida sez....
Let me pitch the first X-Men movie (translated exactly from the comics in 2 hours or less and you tell me if a studio exec would fund this): -Professor Xavier forms a team of teenage mutant outcast to train them on how to use their powers to protect a world that hates and fears them (20mins establishing origin). -These mutants: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman are all dealing with there new powers and finding a way to fit in, not only with their new "teammates" but in their new role as society's outcasts (40mins establishing character development and background) -Enter Magneto, a powerful megalomaniac who is determined to annihilate the human race and establish mutant superiority (20mins establishing character development and background *1 hour and 20 minutes and still no Wolverine for those of you out there counting*) -In a fight to the finish the X-Men with the help of their mentor Charles Xavier pull together as a team to defeat Magneto and save the world (30mins overall plot throughout the course of movie) -Movie ends (No Wolvie in sight) My point for this was to prove a fact, love him or hate him WOLVERINE SELLS, be that comics, cartoons, movies or key chains. So please stop complaining "....Wah, too much Wolverine in the movie...." or "....booo hooo the movie's to Wolverine-centric..." The truth of the matter is when they say Wolverine is the best there is at what he does...they're not just whistling Dixie.
6/10/2006 11:27:05 PM
Steve from Michigan sez....
Were there flaws with this movie? Yes. Did it stop me from seeing it a second time? No. Will it stop me from buying the DVD? No. Jim from WI, take a deep breath bro. There have been big steaming piles of crap writing and illustrating in the comics that went on and on and on and the series still survived. They put too much emphasis on Wolverine in the comics too. Christ, he's on all three teams and he's an Avenger. Bottom line, he sells comics. He is the most "realistic" character in the entire mutant world. Unless you're animating, there are things that just can't go from page to live action. People, it's just a movie. You have to walk in expecting little and let yourself enjoy what is put on screen. And by the way Jimbo, learn to spell. Its great that you're a "student of movies and screenwriting", but you might want to master spelling first. Finally, I don't know what X-Men comics you've been reading but this was the closest to Storm they have gotten in any of the movies. A leader. A strong woman. No super corny dialogue. Do you remember "Do you know what happens to a Toad when it gets struck by lightning?" My comic book collection has been growing strong for 30 years. I break my back every time I move transporting it from place to place. There are easily 1000 X-related comics in my collection. It's not that serious. Next time around, I want to see Beast, Angel, Iceman, Cyclops (bring him back however they want) and Jean Grey vs. Apocolypse or the Hellfire Club. But just one story.
6/10/2006 9:25:39 PM
Jim from wisconsin sez....
I got the fist comment before, and I have more to weigh in, as not only a comic fan, but a student of movies and screenwriting. The fact of the matter is if it serves the story, most non-rabib fans won't mind a few alterations. I know I don't and I'll use Spider-Man as an example. Yes Gwen Stacy is supposed to come first, but the story was so true to form of the Spider-Man character and its essence, plus it told a well rounded thought out story, comic fans everywhere were not up in arms. They rejoiced at their character not being used in some kinda Hollywood camp-fest, but as a full fledged cinmatic extravagaza with heart and depth. X-Men the last stand as nither of those. Really, we ask very little as comic fans. As long as you get the essence of the characters and basic plot outlines, we can be happy. But really if you strip out the heart, there is nothing there to keep the project breathing. The real fact, and the reason this movie sucks, is because not only did they get the characters essences wrong, mostly because of actor's egos (cough cough Haley Barry) and studio miss handling, but how the characters were handled through ridiciously hap-hazzard story telling is what makes it, well...a summer blockbuster turd. Nothing is fleshed out and don't even get me started on the petty dialoge. The too many mutants arguement is also null and void: X-Men are a TEAM. The spotlight for each character needs to be shared for the audience and there is a balance of screentime that the movies haven't got right yet. You just don't get enough. I've always walked out of an X-Men movie entertained, but still wanting more. Still wanting it to not focus so heavly on one charcter. Also, the Dark Phoenix story is strong enough to merrit a side-story sitting this one out. Instead of the incredible character they kept saying she was, she stood around like a goon while the "cure" storyline was serviced, taking away all credibilty of her character. And finally, you don't fucking kill the Professor. You just don't. Jean can die as many times as she wants, the Professor must live on. Oh, and while I'm at it, Rouge. God Rouge. She was cured even before she really even got to understand the full potential of her powers. That's extremly dissapointing.
6/10/2006 12:37:00 PM
Brandon from Texas sez....
One of the films of this Summer people seem to be approaching with a lot of baggage, I felt kind of an odd man out stepping into the third and purportedly last full "X-Men" feature. As someone who has only occasionally browsed a comic, and haven't read so much as a single "X-Men" story in my life, my entire knowledge and enjoyment of the franchise has come from the films and second hand tales from friends who are fans. The first "X-Men" was what it was, the first film in around a decade that finally got the idea of a comic adaptation right. With its serious tone and attempt to fit these characters into a more realistic world, it was a quite enjoyable piece of fluff, even if some of the writing and direction were on the amateurish side and the villain's scheme atrociously bad. The second "X-Men" though was a big improvement and to me stands as the best Marvel comic book adaptation yet (the fourth best comic book movie overall behind "Batman Begins" and the first two "Superman" films). Polished in every way and very easy to get into for even laymen like myself, X2 is just a deftly entertaining and effective piece of filmmaking. Hopes were set high then for the next chapter but behind-the-scenes shenanigans changed all that. Bryan Singer got offered a better deal over at Warner Bros. to do a new "Superman" movie and quickly scarpered, leaving a third "X-Men" in early stages of development and executives at Fox fuming. Thus in many ways the third "X-Men" has unofficially become a revenge project, a film which suffered heavily from studio politics and insane deadlines to be out first. The question is, has all those problems rendered the final product a mess? Surprisingly not as much as you'd think. Taken on its own, 'The Last Stand' is an enjoyable Summer action blockbuster and the first film of the season to actually prove entertaining after a trifecta of bland disappointments (MI3, Poseidon, Da Vinci). Held up against the higher standards of the previous films, it's as polished (if not more so) than the second one but simply doesn't flow as well and ultimately sits just above the level of the first film. Held against the standards that comic book fans set though, it'll likely be slammed. Lets start with the good stuff. The big improvement here is action of course. When Singer was onboard it seemed obvious that the plan was to churn out a franchise that could yield at least a half dozen movies and so took his time with establishing the mythology in each one. It's a great notion but economically prohibitive which is why it comes as no surprise that Fox has decided to pedal this as the last film in the series even if the ending leaves the door open for more. It also meant the action was significantly ramped up in this one, finally delivering on the much touted war between humans and mutants that was always mentioned but never really seen in the last two. The action itself when taking place is pretty cool. There's several jaw dropping FX pieces ranging from the Golden Gate bridge being relocated to two sequences where the Phoenix lets her powers out and essentially disintegrates everything around her in a lethal whirlwind. Director Brett Ratner's work proves almost carbon copy to Singer in look, though is somewhat different in feel. Much of the lighting and small details about the characters and locations are almost exactly the same as the last film and are convincing enough that many going in probably won't notice much of a difference. Yet there are distinct variations between Singer & Ratner's filmmaking styles with the same material - most notably the editing, score, and storytelling hallmarks. Neither director is of a calibre that you'd put up there with the likes of Ridley Scott or Spielberg, but both have their own distinct approaches and ultimately different strengths. Singer's strength is an obvious adoration for the comics, a geeky perfectionist with a love of the source material and a more slavishly loyal commitment to keeping it intact. He's also displayed a better understanding of emotional impact and character on screen than Ratner does, and is able to infuse a more genuine sense of pathos, humour and respect for these characters. Singer's films were filled with little lines and references that implied a much bigger world and backstory to explore - subtle references unfortunately lost in 'The Last Stand'. Ratner on the other hand is a crowd pleaser, a man with a better understanding of big scale action, cinematic visuals and the elements that are pleasing to the majority rather than the fans. With the film Ratner displays a surprisingly respectful stance to the mythos that Singer's first two films have established before it, but obviously doesn't have the same passion for the comic so takes liberties with that which fanboys will find infuriating. General audiences though will find his take more relaxed and easy to enjoy than the somewhat stuffy heaviness that came with Singer's approach, even if the film lacks the smarts and emotional weight that the previous ones had. Performances are strong for the most part too with Ian McKellen finally unleashing his Magneto at full power and ultimately owning the film. His presence whenever on screen simply commands respect and the film does a great job of seeing different parts of his personality from his friendship with Xavier to his ruthless determination to survive. Jackman again dons his signature role with style and even though his actions aren't as interesting this time around, he does his best with it. Berry is Berry, you either like her or you don't and this won't make a difference even though she has more screen time than ever before. Kudos also to Stewart, Grammer and Romjin for turning small parts into solid turns. With all the good though comes the bad and whilst there's lots of scenes that work, there's more than a fair share that don't. The big problem with 'The Last Stand' isn't its lack of adherence to comic lore or replacement of a director. It ain't even something more common like the script or production values. It's time. I don't just mean time on the screen but off it too. This isn't a purely cynical marketing venture like last year's woeful "Fantastic Four", there's certainly more substance here than that, but It's the kind of film that distinctly feels like had the powers that be taken their time with it more instead of rushing it out for the Summer, they could've come up with something much more substantive. A lot of the problem also goes to timing on screen. The film throws several balls in the air - new characters, the 'cure for mutation' plot, the Dark Phoenix plot, and the assorted subplots about pre-existing characters. It's too much to fit it into a two hour film, and yet it does all this in 100 minutes - further exacerbating the problem. The obvious result is portions suffer, most notably the new guys and the Phoenix storyline. The 'Phoenix' plot is obviously included as it's essential to providing some big action set pieces for the film and gives Jackman something of an attempt at an emotional storyline. Yet it all just feels short changed with all sorts of major details skipped over. Janssen is stuck with little to do aside from a menacing look, so its final emotional conclusion rings somewhat hollow - especially after the way the storyline is introduced with a relevant character death so flippant it verges on the appalling. Purely from the film series standpoint it comes off as a passable but ultimately useless little subplot. Fans of the comic though are mostly likely going to be upset by the way this is handled more than anything else. Much better is the 'cure' subplot. The film doesn't explore the nuances of the issue as much as one would like, but it does bring up the interesting ethical issues involved with such a thing more than you'd expect for this kind of film, even if it beats out the political message with less subtlety than ever. The X-Men have always been a representation of minorities, most notably gays and lesbians, and as we approach an age where genetic manipulation can yield things like 'curing' qualities that don't fit the majority - it becomes a quite frightening thing to consider about where a line is drawn. Not as well handled though is the characters because at 100 minutes, dealing with all the existing characters plus several new ones leave many short changed. Angel is a great idea for a character yet the guy has at most four lines of dialogue in the movie and about 60 seconds of screen time. Juggernaut gets one good line (his first), several bad ones and a helmet so ridiculous it makes his fake muscle suit far less distracting than expected. Kitty Pride is essentially useless, and a subplot about a love triangle between her, Iceman and Rogue is a waste (Paquin seems to get more marginalised with each movie). Beast gets the most screentime of the newcomers and is a welcome addition, even if the blue fur looks a little too much like the Cookie Monster from "Sesame Street" in the action scenes. Cyclops, they may as well have recast considering how little he's in here, and Olivia Williams shouldn't have even bothered showing up for all her involvement (two lines and 10 seconds of screen time). Much of the lacklustre Berry's time should've been given over to the newcomers. On the flipside most of the main characters (Xavier, Magneto, Pyro) get the right amount of time, and the film starts with a great flashback to a younger Xavier and McKellen (utilising a CG trick that makes them look younger, but also like they've been injecting a little too much botox). As has been made aware, the film finally starts killing off some of its big ensemble - one badly, one along expected lines, and one with surprising poignancy. The later, coming in the middle of the film, isn't a surprise as such but it's the one that has the most impact - even if it's undermined by a short post-credits scene that again hints at another entry in the franchise being quite possible. Ultimately X3's enjoyment will depend a large part on what you bring to it. From a purely objective standpoint there isn't really much of a difference between the films in style. Whilst those involved didn't save the best for last, they have delivered a film worthy of the title and an entertaining little vehicle to boot. Certainly had they spent more time developing it and working on delivering a good product rather than meeting a deadline we could've had the best film yet - all the framework is there for it. Nevertheless, what we have got is a lot better than most comic book movies that have been coming out in recent years, and its the first of the recent action blockbusters that delivers decent entertainment.
6/10/2006 11:09:43 AM
Ray from Florida sez....
I�d just like to point out a couple of things that a lot of comic fans seemed to have missed: IT�S A FREAKIN� MOVIE���. In this day and age I�m still amazed that comic book fans don�t get the fact that when comic book character(s) and storyline(s) get transferred into the cinematographic medium some of the translation will be lost if not altered. I mean to this day when we translate a language not all the words or phrases come out the same on the other side. Fans should not expect all movies to be exactly as the comic book they originated from. If that were the case we�d have a lot more �Spawns�� and a lot less �Blades��. I honestly though that Brett, Zak and Simon did and excellent job taking an established franchise and running with it. The movie was solid and although I myself would love to have seen Nightcrawler return from the previous film, I think the movie held itself well and serves as worthy bookend to the previous two films.
6/10/2006 10:11:39 AM
Somedude from Somewhere sez....
I don't see any problem with X-men the Last Stand. I really don't get why so many people are complaining about this that and the other. you can only put so much in a movie. You give Bret Ratner a hard time about him mixing mutants' powers and stuff, Sam Raimi did the same sort of thing in Spider-man, exp; Green goblin on the bridge with Mary Jane and his death scene... all of that didn't happen to Mary Jane. it Was Gwen Stacy if anyone recalls...he mixed gwen and Mary in that movie.. Noone complained, Norman Killed Mendel Strom, the Robot master (noone complained) Everybody hails Spider-man as the greatest superhero movies. but when someone does the same thing in X-men it's the end of the world.. "they killed Cyclops! They can't do that!" yeah well they also killed Doc Ock.. Plus if you noticed you don't actually see Cyk die the cut away, they could easily write in a loophole to say she stopped herself and Cyk regained his powers and blasted her and ran off which would explain why Jean was knocked out when storm and Wolverine found her. Easy as that. (not saying they will cause I'm sure they won't but still) Stop Complaining about it cause it won't change the film it's already been made accept it.
6/10/2006 2:17:49 AM
Blind Justice from Georgia sez....
It's almost humorous that fans are so torn about this movie. Honestly I believe it is all due to the name: The Last Stand. Is it really the final movie? If 20th Century FOX doesn't want to make another quadrillion dollars than yeah that was the end of the X-Men films. But, if FOX is smart, they will listen to us (the ones who pay their sallaries) and pump out some more. After X2 the message boards were alive with mostly positive feedback, but then again there were still fans out there crying about silly things such as: No Gambit, too much Wolverine, not enough Collossus, didn't show enough of the other students, etc... Do any of those sound familiar? They should since they are pretty much the same sob stories we're seeing all over again. Get over yourselves people, we are so lucky to be alive and witnessing our beloved characters in the flesh and on the big screen! If any of you truly feel you can write a better story and screenplay than what X3 had, be my guest. Send it into FOX or Marvel and see what happens. Word to the wise though, it probably helps to know people in high places. I won't lie to you, I felt there was some rushing done in the movie's story (I read the Chris Claremont novelization of the movie a couple weeks before release). But, this crap about them cutting 40 minutes of the movie right before release is nonsense. How would the manager of a theatre know they did this? 20th Century FOX would have had to send out over a million emails! Sorry for the venting, I just wanted to put things into perspective for all of us X-fans out there. We are the lucky ones remember!
6/10/2006 12:36:52 AM
Mis from Florida sez... sez....
I think that the movie was wonderful indeed, still it was nothing like the comic books... Emotional wise, I'm confused about the killing of major characters such as Cyclops and Professor X. Why the Dark Phoenix? I hope that further X-men movies will be true to its comic book storyline. I wish to see Cyclops and the Professor back. I do wish to see Gambit and the Nightcrawler fighting side by side. The Phoenix can always return to life... afterall she is eternal...
6/9/2006 9:43:32 PM
Stanley from Arlington, VA sez....
I really really enjoyed the score of this film. I know this article is about the script but no one ever discusses the music till the Oscard night no one watches. And the way the score accented Jean's (rather creepy) wiggin out moments was outstanding. This was easily the best scored film in the franchise. And certainly the most action packed. The action sequences in this one are absolutely jawdropping. Just staggering.
6/9/2006 8:39:26 PM
Ravnosloki from Clinton, Iowa sez....
Just like the other movies my wife and me enjoyed it from start to finish. Do I wish for more? Yes of course. Still I have proudly been a fan boy for over thirty years. Long was the wait for a good Marvel movie. Now the movies are rolling and where I sit we are lucky to get them.
6/9/2006 5:48:42 PM
Mecko from California sez....
Hoestly, X3 was the least satisfying of the movies. A very average script, which was very rushed and the characters come off very one dimensional. The worst part about the whole thing is that I heard from the manager at the theater I live by that about 40 minutes of the movie was cut out the week before the movie hit theaters, and everything that was cut was probably more character development and story, just so that the movie could be a straight action movie. Wasting characters like Phoenix, making Juggernaut a one not joke, and just in general TO MANY MUTANTS. Maybe if a fourth movie happens, the studio will consider giving them more time on it, and maybe, a different director. No offense Brett, but your better off making the Rush Hour films then X-Men.
6/9/2006 4:30:39 PM
New from U.S. sez....
This whole process is stupid...they hire 3 writers to fashion a script? No wonder Hollywood is going broke. P.S.-Warning to all. Whedonesque kicked me out of their chat room for simply disagreeing with a moderator...no foul language...no rude behavior. The are real Nazis over there!!!
6/9/2006 3:30:02 PM
John from Texas sez....
I am a fan of the X-men comics, and am a fan of the Star Trek universe. I understand what you guys are looking for and want. But you ask the impossible. If they didn't try to squeeze so much in, they would end up not pleasing thousands of other fans who want to see more. If they follow one series of 6 or 7 editions religiously, they would do the same. There are some TREK fans out there who wanted to see a minor character from the TV show make a cameo in the last movie. But why? It was not neccessary. A movie must be a different entity than the comics. Otherwise there will always be problems. Isn't wolverine 12 inches taller than his comic book counterpart???
6/9/2006 2:45:47 PM
Laura from Florida sez....
Of course the main events were very cool ideas. They came from the comics, which are currently very well-written. The dialogue and character development completely stank, however. "Bitch" and "dickhead" were the "wittiest retorts" the writers could come up with. Dear Lord. Yeah, that was hysterical. When I was eleven. Dark Phoenix? Amazing character. Too bad she was so empty on screen. What a waste. The writing was average at best, and that's not much in Hollywood. Can I truly be upset about it, however? Hardly. Joss Whedon declined the job. I don't blame him. Too many cooks in the kitchen these days. Does the box office total speak for itself? Hardly. Crap movies earn gazillions all the time. Standard practice. The Davinci Code = further proof. Another yawner. When dollars are all that matter, quality suffers. Hollywood 101.
6/9/2006 2:25:56 PM
Eric from NORTH CAROLINA sez....
I thought x-men:the last stand was fine. I hear alot about lack of story and character development, but I think some folks are being too harsh and critical of this movie and everyone is not a movie critic.Love it or hate it, the box office speaks for itself and I applaud Brett Ratner, the writers and everyone else involved for giving it their best.Thanks.
6/9/2006 1:45:43 PM
Brent from Texas sez....
The movie is getting too much crap from fans. If fans watched the first two with the same judgemental eyes, we would have had the same complaints. The second one is the only that stands out to me as a little bit better quality of a movie. But i remember after viewing it the first time feeling it was missing something. It didn't feel like a comic book movie. And deep down that's what i wanted to see. A great comic book movie about the X-Men as superheroes, not just as outsiders fighting a generic villian with yet another generic world threatening device. I wanted to see them fight as a team. I didn't want to see a Wolverine movie with the X-Men hovering in the background. But I think X-Men TLS delivers something the second one lacked. And that is that feeling you get from reading a great X-Men comic. This is the X-Men movie I would have loved as a ten year old. And that's what's great about it. We can argue all the other aspects. But seriously, I feel the storyline and character payoffs are all great (not perfect and exactly like i'd hoped for or just like the comics) but great none the less. I hope to see these writers and directors on the next x-men flick. let's hope the wackjobs at fox give them an extra year on the next one to polish it up a bit more.
6/9/2006 12:36:10 PM
Ben from From WV sez....
If they consider themselves X-Men comics geeks then they are insulting X-Men comics geeks. The two "deaths" and no Phoenix firebird and the Phoenix was just Jean's subconcious and Juggernaut a mutant and...
6/9/2006 11:25:17 AM
John from New York City sez....
I thought the first X-Men was by far the best of the three. It was all around solid. It kept us guessing what was gonna happen next, with misdirection everywhere leading to great payoffs when they happened in Act 3 of the movie. X2 was just bigger. More action, less dialogue (less inspired and exceptional dialogue at that), overall I was unimpressed, which was exactly what I felt about X3. X3 felt like a rushed project. I wish they'd given it a few more months, maybe open it in November or wait until summer 07.
6/9/2006 11:02:32 AM
Ken from California sez....
Although not as good as X2, THE LAST STAND was a solid screenplay and a definite improvement from the first X-men movie. I thought it was very clever to have most, if not all, scenes from the movie inspired by various scenes from the comics. The strength of the screenplay was the importance of the main story: is the "x-gene" a disease or something to cure? In this day and age when people are beginning to think about the possibility of genetic manipulation, it becomes a very relevant topic. The secondary Phoenix storyline also demonstrated what the extremes of the �x-gene� can create. What lacked from the screenplay was a bit more of the emotional development. As an example, it seemed that Logan/Wolverine was the only one who cared about Jean/Phoenix, even though the first two movies had established that she was at least somewhat close to the other X-men. There were also too many mutants�it would have been a better story if there were less mutants to have to pay attention to. Overall, the script on its own was good, but not fantastic�I see it as a solid effort and definitely better than most comic-movies that have come around recently.
6/9/2006 9:36:28 AM
Sprite from United States sez....
The Last Stand had the worst screen play I have ever seen, and was completely unfaithful to the comics.
6/9/2006 8:06:58 AM
Paul Bibeau from N'awlins sez....
Gambit represents that only real Cajun /Creole "superhero". For people of French descent residing in New Orleans and the surrounding bayous or currently displayed by the biggest bitch of all - Katrina, no one comes close to Remy Etienne LeBeau. God knows, the Louisiana Gulf Coast could use some heroic distraction these days. Furthermore, his mutant powers, humor, wisdom, bayou-pirate-theif up-bringing, coupled with his asking kicking - metallic alloy bo staff wielding fighting style and ability offer a plethora of character depth. In my humble opinion, Gambit is the premier X-Men! It is an absolute travesty that Gambit has yet to make it to the big screen. I can only hope that someone will see the obvious and bring Remy LeBeau/Gambit to life on the big screen.
6/9/2006 7:42:04 AM
Jim from wisconsin sez....
Way too much is jammed in there with no real focus on plot or character development not to mention the incredibly lame "sentinel in danger room" sequence. That felt like it was finally put in just to shut up fans. Everything and the kitchen sink isn't an effective way to write...anything.
6/9/2006 7:27:48 AM
Jim from wisconsin sez....
The movie is even more insulting then if he says him and Zak are huge X-men geeks, and did all the reasearch because it was all for nothing. Haphazard piece of shit with horrible dialoge and where the characters are all wrong, not to mention way too much focus is put on Wolverine and Wolverine alone.
6/9/2006 7:25:42 AM