Is “MaXXXine” Too Tame for a Pulpy Hollywood Tale?

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A Star Is Born, But The Script Is Missing: A Review of "MaXXXine"

Ti West’s latest horror film, "MaXXXine," marks the final chapter in his "X" trilogy, following the chilling events of "X" and "Pearl." While "MaXXXine" stands alone and doesn’t require prior knowledge of the previous films, having seen them enriches the viewing experience by adding context to the character’s past. This time, we find Mia Goth reprising her role as the title character, Maxine, a rising star in the adult film industry, who has relocated to Hollywood with dreams of conquering the mainstream.

Maxine is a force to be reckoned with, a driven and confident woman who isn’t afraid to go to extremes to achieve her ambitions. She’s on the verge of her big break, landing a coveted role in a major motion picture. But her past, filled with violence and trauma, returns to haunt her, becoming a final obstacle to her ascension in the world of fame and fortune.

Goth’s performance is the linchpin of "MaXXXine." Her embodiment of Maxine is captivating, leaving viewers unable to distinguish between the actress and the character. Goth’s deep understanding of the role and innate charisma make every scene she’s in compelling, leaving viewers wanting more.

Beyond Goth, "MaXXXine" is a delightful trip down memory lane, steeped in the aesthetics and atmosphere of 1980s Hollywood. The film’s production design, costuming, and camera angles all transport viewers to a smoky, neon-drenched era, echoing the stylistic elements of films from that era. "MaXXXine" is littered with nods and Easter eggs, ranging from obvious homages to iconic films like "St. Elmo’s Fire," with Kevin Bacon channeling a Jake Gittes-esque look from "Chinatown," to subtler references possibly inspired by "Back to the Future."

The immersive experience of "MaXXXine’s" world is undeniable, enhanced by Goth’s vibrant portrayal of Maxine. However, the film relies heavily on this surface-level enjoyment, leaving the plot and character development feeling like afterthoughts. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the real-life Night Stalker terror, with additional murders seemingly connected to Maxine. Despite this thrilling premise, the film takes its time revealing the interconnectedness of these events, leaving the audience on edge wondering whether the Night Stalker is the orchestrator, and how the pieces fit together.

When the plot finally begins to cohere, it becomes evident that Maxine must confront her past to secure a brighter future. This theme, however, is executed in a surprisingly predictable and underwhelming manner, undermining the potential for a more daring narrative. While "MaXXXine" introduces flashes of quick, intense violence, these moments are overshadowed by Maxine’s rational and seemingly normal behavior, creating a jarring disconnect between her established resourceful nature and the film’s final events.

The film’s climactic resolution feels almost too neat and tidy, failing to deliver the gritty, visceral payoff the narrative setup promises. The overall message about the price of fame and stardom becomes diluted as the story attempts to tie together loose ends, resulting in a narrative that feels formulaic rather than surprising.

While the film’s stylistic brilliance and Goth’s performance are undeniably strong, the story ultimately feels constricted, leaving viewers yearning for more boldness and depth. The overall feeling is that "MaXXXine" might have been a more powerful story if it had embraced its potential for unsettling darkness instead of opting for a more mainstream, restrained approach.

This restraint is not only evident in the story but also extends to the supporting cast. "MaXXXine" features a cast littered with A-list talent, including Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Monaghan, Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Lily Collins, and Giancarlo Esposito. While each actor contributes to the film’s overall enjoyment, they are largely relegated to peripheral roles with limited screen time. This lack of development for such a talented cast is a missed opportunity, as their potential contributions to the narrative could have been more fulfilling.

In comparison to the raw, impactful intensity of its predecessors, "MaXXXine" feels like a muted and diluted version of what could have been a truly unsettling and provocative film. While it provides a satisfying conclusion to the "X" trilogy, "MaXXXine" ultimately leaves viewers with a lingering sense of missed potential, a feeling that the story never truly lived up to its ambitious premise.

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Alex Parker
Alex Parker
Alex Parker is a tech-savvy writer who delves into the world of gadgets, science, and digital culture. Known for his engaging style and detailed reviews, Alex provides readers with a deep understanding of the latest trends and innovations in the digital world.