Pharyngula

Things blowed up real good: X-Men 3

The plot:

Imagine that people have invented a “cure” for mutants, which is housed in an isolated building, guarded by swarms of soldiers armed with guns that fire hypodermic needles loaded with the cure and bombs that send clouds of cure-shrapnel flying through the air.

Now imagine that you are the cunning mastermind of an army of mutants who want to destroy that cure. You personally have vast mental powers that let you move immense pieces of architecture around like they were legos. Your army has diverse powers: they can fly, they can teleport, they can move at lightning speed, they can camouflage themselves perfectly, etc. You also have under your control the MOST POWERFUL MUTANT IN THE UNIVERSE, who can make things disintegrate by giving them a peevish look. You want to destroy the cure. What do you do?

A) Put together a strike team with complementary super-powers that allow them to penetrate the building and take out the source of the cure.

B) Use brute force. Use your powers to pick up the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, and drop it on the building. Everything goes squish, mission accomplished.

C) Use your powers to pick up the Golden Gate Bridge, and drop it a hundred yards short of the building. Tell your mutant army to run across it and go jump on the soldiers, who are armed and showering the killing ground with nasty sharp needles that turn them into normal humans…although it’s not as if they were using their mutant powers much in the assault anyway. After your army is annihilated, petulantly and belatedly start flinging flaming cars at your enemy, while letting them run up to you. Maybe later your disintegrator mutant will zap a few people…of course, they all seem to be the ones on your side.

Guess which strategy the movie used. If you need a hint, which choice would involve the most explosions and mutant rasslin’?

The characters:

This is a movie that trots out character after character, each given about 30 seconds to demonstrate some freakish CGI, and then poof, they’re done, until they get tossed into the meat-grinder climactic battle.

Purportedly, the central character conflict revolves around the resurrected Jean Grey, who now has mega-powers and a child-like, impulsive mind. This deep inner struggle, however, is portrayed by having her stand around a lot looking blank, and every once in a while slathering on some bluish-purple veiny makeup and having her look cross. Then she disintegrates people for a while, before going blank again. Then a fellow mutant does something dramatic, and poof, the conflict is resolved in about 30 seconds.*

Forget the characters. They could have saved money if they’d just posed some of the movie’s line of action figures on the set.

The “science”:

I was concerned going into this that there’d be a lot of painful pseudoscientific gobbledygook in an attempt to explain how all this stuff worked. There was one throw-away line about how all these different powers are produced by a single X gene, and they can be blocked with an antibody, at which I boggled and was ready to shake my fist at the screen and embarrass my kids…but then the movie threw all this super-powerful magical impossible stuff at me, and a proper sense of perspective was restored. It’s all BS. You gotta go with the flow.

Final grade for the movie: D. The writers were stupid, the director was a hack, the story was trivial, and the actors were little more than armatures for CGI. Things blowed up good, though.

Oh, and there was that final few seconds after the credits. I won’t say exactly what it is, but apparently the disintegration CGI didn’t necessarily always mean the victim was disintegrated. And unfortunately, there will be an X-Men 4.

*If you want to see this kind of story done well, watch season 6 of Buffy.