There are very few arguments Tommy and I have had where we are more diametrically opposed than on the subject of X:Men the Last Stand. I will allow him to state his own case, in his words, and so I will merely state mine.
The Internet hates this film, but the Internet film community tends to pile on. Bryan Singer’s previous X-men films got sort of overrated, and since there was a general hate of Brett Ratner and he was attached to the project, this movie by definition had to be an abomination. It wasn’t. I can’t say its a great film, but its entertaining and more to the point, it wasn’t supposed to be possible to make it. It’s like a miracle baby.
Let me give you the context for X3.
It’s a story with a villain, Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment at the time, Tom Rothman, who was good at saving a buck, but not much else. Rothman is behind such legendary decisions as making Die Hard 4 a PG-13 at the last minute, botching the Daredevil, Fantastic Rour and X-men franchise, pointless feuds with Bryan Singer, Tim Burton, Stephan Norrington, Ridley Scott, Alex Proyas, Kevin Smith, Warner Brothers and his own business partner, and last minute edits of Kingdom of Heaven, and Hitman that rendered the films incoherent or worse. He shot down the Independence Day sequel and the Ridley Scott/James Cameron Alien 5 film because he had a good script for Aliens vs. Predator already.
Bryan Singer wanted to leave to do Superman Returns but he was still willing to finish X3. He was taking James Marsden with him. This incensed Rothman who immediately made it personal. He drove Singer off the project (a project where Sigourney Weaver would have been Emma Frost, and Gambit would have made an appearance) and then had characters axed and killed off in a fit of rage. He also hamstrung the movie so it wouldn’t interfere with his pet Wolverine movie project.
Oddly enough, Rothman couldn’t find a director, which didn’t stop him from setting a release date anyway. In the end, he got Brett Ratner. The project at this point had over two dozen script rewrites but they were in the middle of the Writer’s Strike and couldn’t redo anything. The shooting schedule was impossible to meet by industry standards. In the end, it took eleven different effects houses to complete the film which was edited up until its week of release.
Somehow, Ratner got blamed for the ensuing mess, which is not fair. But one thing is that is fair to complain about is the casting. So Tom and Tom is going to recast X3!
Professor X/Patrick Stewart – No problems here.
Magneto/Ian McKellan – No problems here either. This is easy so far.
Wolverine/Hugh Jackman – I have new respect for this guy after Les Mis, but he is miscast. Wolverine is a short, gruff Canadian, so of course they cast a tall, sensitive Australian. If I had a time machine I would be able to put a young Jack Nicholson in the role, but I think Benico del Toro would have been awesome. The Hunted showed his vicious side where he played a psychopathic knife expert, and the Wolf Man remake (shudder) showed his animal side.
Halle Berry/Storm – They needed the star power, but they had nothing for her to do, although in my little world, her arc the first two movies was about a bored actress struggling with a terrible accent. Seriously though, they couldn’t find an actual African to play Storm? If I grab my time machine Storm would be Iman, who probably hasn’t aged a day. Also, Angela Bassett would be awesome, because her fantastic range allows her to play pretty much any black female role. But Thandie Newton would be great here.
Famke Janssen/Jean Grey – In all fairness, her part is underwritten. But you need someone here that is supposed to be the Dark Phoenix, which means you have to be afraid of her at some point, and that’s a chamber Janssen doesn’t have. Jessica Chastain, is freakishly talented and apparently still working for pretty cheap.
Anna Paquin/Rogue – Paquin is a young Brit, who was cast to play a grown Cajun. Rogue is also voluptuous and Paquin is… um…um… hmm. Eastbound and Down’s Katy Mixon is the perfect age and build for Rogue. She has a very Southern presence and great charisma.
Kelsey Grammer/Beast – No problems here.
James Marsden/Cyclops– Tough position. Cyclops has no role to play. His job is be dour and argue with Wolverine. He’s not worth recasting.
Rebecca Romijn/Mystique – I think she’s doing just fine.
Vinnie Jones/Juggernaut – Maybe the worst casting in the movie. I like Vinnie Jones, but when he was cast, Matthew Vaughn was the director, and the British can’t seem to figure out that some people are actually large. For some reason, 5″9 160lb Tom Hardy got cast as 6″8, 350lb Bane, and so likewise Vinnie Jones had to endure a costume that would make him appear almost 7 feet tall. Because there are no actors that could approximate the size of the Juggernaut. Right? They should have just gotten Nathan Jones and called it a day.
What do you think?
As much as I agree with you concerning the reason why The Last Stand became terrible, I still place a majority of the blame squarely at the feet of Mr. Rush Hour himself, Bret Ratner.
Ratner is the poor man’s Michael Bay, except his films lack any discernible visual style. But the hackery? He’s got that down. Matthew Vaughn should have gotten the job, as he killed X-Men: First Class and proved he understands the franchise.
Professor X/Patrick Stewart – Perfect casting here. He was born to play the Professor.
Magneto/Ian McKellan – Also perfect. It takes a great actor to play the greatest comic book villain of all time, and Sir McKellan fits the bill, and then some.
So far we agree. Here’s where we differ.
Wolverine/Hugh Jackman– Let’s start with Benicio Del Toro as Wolverine.
To me, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is like Daniel Craig’s Bond: I didn’t think he was a good fit before I saw him in action, but now I can’t see any one else in the role. He took what could have been a ridiculously over-the-top portrayal of the character and made a three dimensional character out of him. I’m not suggesting Del Toro could not have done the same, but his accent would have been super distracting, and it feels a bit out of place. I would keep Jackman in the role – it’s one of the few things that was surprisingly correct here.
Storm/Halle Berry – We are once again in agreement, as Halle Berry was horribly miscast here. It should have been Angela Basset, as she has the voice and the gravitas to play the role. She’s a bit too old to play the character though, so my second choice is Kerry Washington. Great actress, and capable of playing an African, as evidenced by her role in Last King of Scotland.
Famke Janssen/Jean Grey – We once again agree here. Janssen had absolutely zero to do in this role, and could not nail the awesome of Dark Phoenix. Chastain would be awesome, but I’m gonna go with GOT actress Lena Headey. Her evil Queen Cersei makes me think she’d kill it with actual powers.
Anna Paquin/Rogue – I think Paquin did a good job, partly because they wrote the role for a waifish drifter instead of a tormented sexpot. If the role was correctly written, there’s only one choice: Christina Hendricks. Far better actress than Ms. Mixon, and can definitely play a bombshell.
Kelsey Grammer/Beast – Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
James Marsden/Cyclops – We agree here as well. A better actor would be a waste – He simply has nothing to do.
Vinnie Jones/Juggernaut – I’m a bit torn on this. I like Vinnie Jones as well, and he’s definitely an imposing figure. As for having to wear the costume, that’s what actors do-they pretend. That being said, there was not much for him to do but be large and scary, and Nathan Jones fits that bill, even though his acting is weak even by professional wrestling standards. Change approved.