Spoiler alert: This review discusses aspects of the movie that may spoil the plot for you, just as they spoiled the movie for me.
So the movie has great action and lousy dialogue. But for an action movie, is that such a bad thing? No, and X-Men III wouldn’t be such a disappointment if bad dialogue was the only thing holding it back. You see, the movie breaks what is a cardinal cinematic sin for me: it sets up a potential that it doesn’t live up to.
Mike Hodges, in speaking of the work of Akira Kurosawa, said, “Even within this action film, the morality that came strikingly through was like a samurai sword.”
X-Men III should have been a great film about something; a film more thought provoking and cool than simply using Kitty Pryde’s power correctly (and boy do they ever use Kitty’s powers correctly!) The first half of the flick goes about showing us this by setting up some real doozies of moral quandaries.
There has been a cure discovered for the gene that creates mutants – and this has thrown the world into a battle of ethics. Some don’t believe that there is any need for a cure, as they do not consider mutantism to be a disease. Others, while leaning towards allowing voluntary administration of the cure, balk at forcing the procedure on the unwilling.
Imagine this question in non-comic book terms. Suppose there was a procedure that would make one fit into society easier – wouldn’t that automatically be a good thing?
What if I told you the procedure were cosmetic surgery, a way to fit into the world’s standard of beauty?
Or if it were a race eraser, allowing everyone to be white?
Or a Republican Right Mindedness Pill, that would help everyone to only have proper, conforming thoughts?
Certainly, such things would help us all get along; it would make the world a safer place. Safer and easier, sure. But the question is: better?
Back to movies about mutants.
X III (unlucky thirteen) spends quite a bit of time setting up the questions, with a rich diversity of angles. Both the good and the bad (Storm and Magneto) make compelling arguments that there is nothing to cure; Hank McCoy gets to make a moral stand when the cure is used as a weapon; and even the other side of the question is given heart as the teen Rogue feels she is losing her boyfriend because of her powers.
And the subplots are harmonically themed, as Wolverine challenges the ethics of Professor X limiting Jean Grey’s power.
So the questions are set up thoroughly; now comes the time to wrestle with them.
And here the movie fails the viewer. You see, in the fury of battle, the filmmakers either forget about the issues, or the characters decided they couldn’t be bothered by them. At the climax, the three main voices opposed to the cure come to agree that forcing the “cure” on others is a good thing – at least when convenient.
In fact, once the issue leaves the realm of theory and enters into the practical world, convenience is the only argument given any credence.
Which is a shame. At this point, I have to believe that the filmmakers wanted to give substance to the issues raised, and would probably be opposed to the moral point made by their own movie. I base this feeling on the fact that they gave the issue a face – the face of an angel in fact.
Warren Worthington III (the third, just as the movie is the third) is the mutant who won’t go willingly into the dark night of plain humanity. He is code-named “angel,” and he sports glorious wings – a beautiful sign of his mutation. The character really only has one purpose in the film – to look beautiful, a visual reminder of our theme.
It’s as if the filmmakers are trying to tell us that mutation can be beautiful; and the cure would rob us of such beauty.
Too bad the beauty is only a featherweight.
Just my thoughts,