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X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (PG-13) (2006)

20th Century Fox

Official Site

Director: Brett Ratner

Producers: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter

Written by: Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn, Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammer, Shawn Ashmore, Anna Paquin, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Ellen Page, Shohreh Aghdashloo

Rating:


For fans of the first two X-Men movies, Bryan Singer (director of X-Men 1 & 2) was an essential part of the recipe for success. He brought the characters to the big screen in a universe that was modern and relevant while keeping them true to the source material. So as a fan of Bryan Singer and X-Men, it was no small concern to hear that he had left the director’s chair only to have it filled by... Brett Ratner. This is the same guy who gave us Money Talks, Rush Hours 1 & 2, and Red Dragon. Would the X-Men series now be destined to end on a sour note, with the third movie being so horrible that all others in the series are forever tainted by association? The short answer is “No.” X-Men: The Last Stand is not nearly as terrible as some (myself among them) had feared it would be, but it still falls short of its predecessors.

The movie follows two story arcs. The first and most compelling is the discovery of a “cure” for mutation. This resonates well because all of us have, at some point during our lives, felt different and desired to fit in even at the cost of our own individuality. The message of accepting those differences came across loud and clear in the previous two X-Men movies, but here it is obscured by the film’s other storyline—the resurrection of Jean Grey (Janssen) as Dark Phoenix. Her return and enhanced powers are explained with a quick flashback sequence and a few lines of technobabble from Professor Xavier (Stewart) and since the writers do not seem very interested in revealing anything about this new Jean Grey, the audience cannot care very much about her eventual fate.

Therein lies the problem with X-Men: The Last Stand. Quite a few new characters are introduced—Juggernaut (Jones), Kitty Pride (Page), and Beast (Grammer)—but none of them are adequately explored. They simply show up, do a CGI demonstration of their powers, utter a catchphrase (Example: “I’m the Juggernaut, B*tch!” And what of it? I’m the film reviewer and you don’t hear me shouting.), then leave as swiftly as they came. The only people with any substantial screen time are Wolverine (Jackman), Magneto (the always magnificent Ian McKellen), and Storm (Berry)—the last of these I suspect because Berry threatened to leave the project unless she was given more camera time. Of these, Wolverine has evolved the most, from the moody loner of the first movie to a full member of the team, comfortable wearing the X-Men uniform and believing in the cause. Magneto continues to play foil to the X-Men by preaching mutant superiority and warns the humans will strike by coming for only a few of the mutants at a time until, when the last mutant is taken, no one will be left to speak for him. This argument is seductive in that it is historically accurate.

Brett Ratner knew the fans wanted to see all these famous characters and of course they wanted to see them fight and in that the film comes through with the goods. This movie has all the clichéd Hollywood ingredients—dueling laser beams, psychic battle expressed by two people squinting at the camera, and an old fan favorite, the “fastball special.” The problem: Some of these things are just not interesting to watch, no matter how much special effects budget there is. Nothing said here will deter fans of the comic or movie series from handing over their loot, but having seen it once there will be little desire to come back for more.

—Woodrow Bogucki

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

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