The latest of the Marvel comics franchise is the most expensive film ever made but carries on just like the earlier two – lots of characters chasing too little plot. If you can call a po-faced allegory about society’s treatment of difference a plot. As ever Halle Berry looks nice, Hugh Jackman throws his chest out to good effect and Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen compete to see whose voice has the most actorly resonance.
To flesh things out a bit more, the story hinges on a mutant called Leech, whose special power is the production of something – hormones, pheromones, slimy oozy stuff, call it what you will – which turns our mutants back into normal everyday folk. Should this make mutants happy? Should they, in fact, be forced to have a bit of Leech therapy? Is this a godlike intervention in the affairs of men (mutant or otherwise) or a scientific breakthrough? In short, is difference a thing to be celebrated or despised? There is way too much of this heavy handedness going on and too many characters vying for screen time. Not having learnt a thing from the previous X-Men outings, this one introduces even more characters, including Kelsey Grammer’s Beast, Ben Foster’s Angel, Vinnie Jones’s Juggernaut, Eric Dane’s Multiple Man, Dania Ramirez’s Callisto and of course Leech, played by Cameron Bright. Buzzing round the edges are even more new faces, returning old hands and cameos. There are so many characters, in fact, that director Brett Ratner – brought in after Darren Aronofsky, Bryan Singer, Joss Whedon, Alex Proyas, Zack Snyder and Matthew Vaughn had all passed – has to get absurdly whizzy in an attempt to fit everyone in. But just because you have a property called Rush Hour on the CV doesn’t mean you’re the right man for the job. Though in Ratner’s defence, who could have turned all these ingredients into something tasty?
© Steve Morrissey 2005