x_men_three_ver1I loved the idea of a third X-Men movie up until a certain point. The first two movies were, in chronological order, very good and freakin’ fantastic. And the end of the second movie pretty effectively telegraphed what the third one would cover when it showed a Phoenix-like shape under the water where Jean Grey had just drown. (The movie came out three years ago – if you haven’t seen it yet you deserve to be spoiled.) That Bryan Singer would continue his masterful direction of the franchise as he covered the character-exploration that took place in the Phoenix Saga was about as alluring a prospect as you can find in comic book moviedom.

The moment where this stopped being a good idea was when it was announced that Brett Ratner would be assuming the reigns of this third installment. Singer had parted ways with the franchise to pursue what was reported to be a dream for him – another comic adaptation that would turn into Superman Returns at Warner Bros. For a while director Matthew Vaughn was attached to X3 but he left suddenly just before filming due to the usually vague “creative differences.” When Ratner was announced as his replacement I figured out what those differences must have been. Vaughn likely wanted to continue Singer’s storyline and general look and feel of the movies, while Ratner was willing to drop trou and allow himself to be passed around like fresh meat on the prison block. That included giving Halle Berry more to do as Storm. Considering she’s the worst actor in the movies and had done little but bitch about how she wasn’t given much to do this was disappointing.

Even through all that I still hold out hope. The ensemble Singer created was strong and I have this faint glimmer that they can rise above the hack director’s influence. At least that’s how I felt before I started seeing the marketing campaign gear up. Hold your noses people.

The Posters

The teaser poster is pretty cool, even if it’s a graphic that just about anyone could have guessed would be used, with Wolverine’s three claws in front of the “X” logo. It’s the same sort of image that was used for Jurassic Park 3 and other third in a trilogy movies. The coolest of the bunch, though.

The theatrical poster, as I said, pretty effectively telegraphed the focus of the movie for anyone passing it in a theater lobby. Everyone but Wolverine and Storm are in the background and kind of fuzzy. Nice way to treat that ensemble that’s acted as the emotional underpinning for the movies to date, guys. And way to show who is really calling the shots here.

The best of the batch were a series of character-centric posters that were created for the key figures in the movie – at least up to a point. Beast, Rogue, Wolverine and Jean Grey were pretty cool. The Rogue is very nice and the Beast one nicely shows how Kelsey Grammer fit in as the blue-furred mutant. The one for Storm, though is awful as Berry looks like she’s posing for a Stuff Magazine spread and not, like the rest of them, like she’s in the middle of a battle. And the one for Angel is just awful, but that’s a feeling of mine that extends to the character in general. Like for the second movie there were also a collection of head-shots of everyone in the movie, no small task considering X3 hosts a lot more mutants than the second entry. You can view most of them at Yahoo Movies and here’s a collection of some of the better ones in banner form.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer was alright. It did it’s job of introducing the characters but did not go to any of the real plot points. The biggest things to come out of it were a brief glimpse of Beast and visual confirmation of Jean Grey coming back in a new, more powerful form. It also showed that Ratner was trading character development for big things blowing up.

A second TV spot/trailer then debuted during a March episode of “24.” This one was much better – possibly the best of the bunch – and gave Grammer some furry dialogue which showed he was the perfect choice to play Hank McCoy. It also introduced a love triangle between Rogue, Kitty Pryde and Iceman that is there to give the kiddies something to get all choked up over. What it did the most, though, was show just how much the cast had grown, with quick shots of a whole mess of new mutants in battle and gathering for goodness or badness.

The movie has gotten a slew – about 12 or so at last count – of TV spots all of which hammer home the same ideas as the first two video pieces. That’s a lot of money being spent on TV spots and I’d love – I mean absolutely love – to see what the return on investment is for these bad boys. There have also been enormously bad character-centric spots created for Wolverine, Storm and Mystique (?). Not sure what these were created for, since the trailers themselves are largely devoted to Wolvie and Storm and Mystique seems like an odd choice for highlighting. Why not Magneto or Jean Grey? Or someone new like Colossus?

Online

The official site is such a slow-loading eyesore it’s almost not worth mentioning. Here’s what I scribbled into Google Notebook while visiting the site:

EditDelete
-Takes forever to load
-intro is horrible
-setup like a browser – interesting
-off to left – list of mutants. Again, very slow loading and contains headshots of mutants
-GALLERY – just headshots
-TRAILER – trailers, TV spots and other clips
-DOWNLOADS – character posters, headshots, AIM icons, mobile stuff and itunes widget
-WIDGETS – for both Apple and Yahoo music players
-FILMMAKERS – really just mentions of who did what – no more info
-CAST – really brief bios – like really brief
-PROD NOTES – really brief notes – about two paragraphs
-PARTNERS – 7/11, H-D, Marvel and others
-JOIN THE CURE SUMMIT (blogged about before)
-SEARCH THE SITE – let’s you search for “mutant connections”. So this is for people who don’t know how to go to the character guides?

There are two online efforts that didn’t get mentioned here, interestingly. First was the movie’s MySpace page. That’s alright since all it really does is recreate content from the official site so there’s nothing real innovative going on there. Second is the X-Planet site that was created as a mash-up of Google Maps and social networking. Seems like that should have gotten some more play since it was probably the most interesting think online.

Other Efforts

As the “Partners” section of the website will attest to the movie doesn’t lack for promotional partners. Click there if you’re interested in the details of those arrangements. That’s about it since there wasn’t much else created for the movie’s campaign.

Overall

Is it OK if I sit this one out? I mean I’m going to see the movie just to close out the franchise but definitely won’t be rushing out to it. I actually picked it as the most likely loser of the summer movie season. The campaign is pretty one-note, which is especially disappointing considering just how many TV spots and trailers were created. I don’t think that bodes well for the movie. The emphasis on Wolverine and Storm gets old after a while, especially since there’s a good deal of buzz about the new additions to the cast. That’s what people were talking about but the campaign does nothing to encourage that discussion. A missed opportunity if you ask me, as was most of the campaign.

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4 Comments

  1. I’ll probably go and see it; like you said, to close out the trilogy.

    Truth is though, I’m a lot more excited about Clerks II! I’ve been reading Kevin Smith’s blog about the build-up to its release, and its subsequent EARLY release date.

    The trailers make it look funny, and I love how there’s always a connection to the storylines from the past flicks, etc.

    Kevin Smith movies are a guilty pleasure; you can’t watch ’em with your mom, but isn’t that the point?

    (Guess I should left this comment at your Clerks II post…sorry)

  2. Make sure you check out what Fox Japan has done with X3 as it’s stylistically different to everything else (in the western world) and I love the Wolverine poster shot.

    http://www.foxjapan.com/movies/x-menfinal.

    I worked on X-Planet http://www.xplanet.net which you mentioned (thanks for the kind words). And we wanted to integrate the main site into Xplanet a lot more. Ie provide links to characters mutant profile on the maps from the site but this didn’t eventuate.

    You also forgot to mention The Cure summit http://www.curesummit.com/

    Which I feel should have been rolled into the main site rather than a separate site by itself. It’s a failed concept I feel as the different forums spread the debate way to thin to be enjoyable.

    Also there was the really low flying Danger Room http://thedangerroom.net/ which we didn’t even know about.

    The only thing I disliked from the overall campaign was the text “The Last Stand” which covered the logo. It just looked rushed. Likle someone just used the first font they found. Luckily in the movie opening titles it’d been cleaned up slightly but the rest of the design material is still suing the horrible font.

    Oh well enjoy the movie.

  3. Chris, I saw an advance screening of the movie last night.

    It’s good, but not great. The last two set up high expecations, and this one was merely okay, imo.

    Also, it seemed like it might have been a bit open-ended in the last few frames. Is X-4 on the horizon (even though Hugh Jackman said he wouldn’t do another)?

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