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
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
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...