The third entry into the X-Men franchise turned out quite a bit better than I expected. Early script turmoils were only overshadowed by cast problems. It seemed the bottom fell out when Bryan Singer decided to take on The Man of Steel instead of X3. Enter Brett Ratner, best known for the Rush Hour films. Give the man credit for overcoming a ton of problems to deliver a pretty good thrill ride film. Ratner adapted quickly to the f/x driven world of X-Men and managed to fashion a rather compelling tale. The idea of a…“cure” for mutancy is likely the best plot element in the franchise. Ratner was smart enough to not tinker much with the formula already established by Singer. The problem is, he played it entirely too safe. The story has the potential for a hell of an emotional tale which it never quite delivers. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the film a lot, and I have nothing against these amusement rides, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this film wanted to be something more than it was. In the greatest traditions of shows like Star Trek, there was a powerful message to be mined here. Instead, it sat there more like a clever plot device, which it certainly was. Ratner did a fine job of dealing with so many characters all wanting their own moments to shine. Hugh Jackman still steals the show as Wolverine, but this time Berry’s Storm and particularly Famke Janssen have meaty roles, if not too much dialogue. The real cast surprise has to be Kelsey Grammer. Who could have guessed that barfly Frasier would make such a fine Beast? Patrick Stewart’s death scene was visually stunning but a bit of a letdown. (Stay tuned after the credits for more on this situation.) The Golden Gate Bridge sequence is a very impressive display. Finally, I expected to see more humor coming from Ratner. The fact is, I guess I expected that there would be too much humor. Perhaps he tried too hard not to create X3:Rush Hour.
For the most part this will be the last X-Men film for at least a little while. A Wolverine project will most certainly be the next related film. There is talk of a young Magneto film. I wouldn’t expect to see Berry return to the franchise, as she was not exceptionally happy with her role. When the X-Men do return, I would expect to see more time spent on different mutants. The three films do work well together as a satisfying trilogy. Any future films will likely take a fresh approach to the franchise.
X3 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The f/x shots are nothing less than brilliant. The opening credits look pretty stunning. Color is vibrant, and contrast is nearly perfect. The presentation tends to fall apart a little in the less f/x heavy scenes. Here I found a bit of compression artifact or at least some kind of phase trouble in darker scenes. The night scene at the Brotherhood camp is an unfortunate example. Black levels are at least constant throughout. Some of the lighter scenes such as the child mutant’s cell appear overly washed with light. Perhaps this was an artistic choice that played out better on film but not so well on DVD.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is flawless. Subs come alive at just the right moments. The Surround mix is quite impressive. Rear channels command wonderful atmosphere. When Janssen’s character reaches out to her former colleagues, the room is wrapped in ghostly whispers. The score has just the right amount of punch to deliver without ever walking on other sounds. Dialogue is appropriately placed throughout the sound field.
There are two mostly fair audio commentaries to choose from. Ratner teams up with writing dup Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg. The track is mostly fluff, avoiding the plethora of controversies, but worthwhile for its entertainment value. In the second, we get a lot of self congratulations from producers Avi Arad, Lauren Donner, and Ralph Winter.
There are 10 deleted scenes which are pretty short and add little to the film. Mostly we’re talking alternative scenes with little more than a curse word added or some facial hair. Probably the only interesting scene involves one of the mutant’s making a different choice (leave it for you to discover the details). You can view these scenes with or without commentary, and individually or all at once.
Trailers that include a peek at The Simpsons Movie are all that remain.
The television spot calls this release “Packed with exciting extras”. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but this reviewer doesn’t consider this to be packed. Actually, less commentaries and a better bit rate would have been better. Like the previous films, a more loaded version is likely coming sooner rather than later. That means this one’s a good rental. Just remember. When you see a release date for X3.5, “I told you so”.
Special Features List
- Deleted scenes