X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
So at one point Brett Ratner was the director
attached to the much anticipated SUPERMAN RETURNS. Eventually he
was replaced by Bryan Singer, who turned in two solid comic book films with
X-MEN and X-MEN 2. With Singer's schedule being occupied by
the Man of Steel, Ratner oddly enough ended up taking the helm with the third
X-MEN outing. It was a decision that met with much controversy
from comic book fanboys, many of who wondered if Brett could possibly come
close to matching the quality that Bryan had already established with this
new film opens with a flashback 20 years ago, where Charles Xavier a.k.a.
Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Eric Lensherr a.k.a. Magneto (Ian McKellen)
stop by a suburban home to meet with a young Jean Grey. This girl
clearly has a powerful gift, but needs to learn how she can embrace it, and
control it. Charles and Eric promise her they can help. Then we're
taken just 10 years back, where Warren Worthington the 2nd, a prominent
political figure, walks in on his young son Warren the 3rd who is trying
desperately to hide his mutant angel-like wings. This leads us into the
not too distant future, where the X-Men are training inside the danger room
located at the Xavier School. Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh
Jackman) seem to have differing opinions on their students capabilities in
battle situations. The team's intended leader Scott Summers a.k.a.
Cyclops (James Marsden) is rather distraught over the loss of his wife Jean
Grey (Famke Janssen), who sacrificed herself during their last battle at
Alkaline Lake. Scott goes to her death site, and is shocked to discover
that Jean is apparently still alive. But something has changed in her.
While her powers have grown to incredible levels, she's not the same person
everyone once knew. Meanwhile Magneto's right hand girl Mystique
(Rebecca Romijn) has been captured by the government, who are being advised by
an intelligent yet animal-like mutant named Dr. Hank McCoy (Kelsey Grammer).
It seems the military has developed a "cure" serum which will nullify the
abilities of any mutant, and intends to use it against those they consider
threats. It's derived from a mutant whose power does just that.
Magneto won't stand for this, and assembles a small army of powerful mutants
to fight this imminent threat. His secret weapon may actually be the
newly changed Jean Grey, who could potentially destroy anyone that gets in her
way. It's up to the X-Men to keep things from getting out of hand, and
hopefully prevent their former teammate from doing Magneto's evil deeds.
can honestly say that I went into this flick expecting a train wreck.
People I know that were close to the production had mentioned things to me
that killed any confidence I might have had. The initial trailers looked
great, but I kept hearing that the script was lame. The end result isn't
completely awful, but certainly falls short of the previous films' quality.
The absence of Bryan Singer is pretty apparent. Gone is the chemistry
between characters, and the emotional elements come across as mediocre at
best. I was always a little let down with how the character of Cyclops
was so underused in the previous outings, and in this one he's quickly tossed
away like dead weight. When you think about it, that character has the
most reason to incorporate an emotional undercurrent. Sadly he's
disposed of rather quickly. I feel bad for James Marsden. Any
serious X-Men fan knows that Cyclops was always the leader of the team, and
was established in the comics as a very important character. This
current movie serves as an unfortunate nail in the coffin for him, and it's a
shame they never gave the audience a chance of really getting to know him on
screen. Wolverine gets the most screen time yet again. Sure, he's
a cool character, and Hugh Jackman is a very competent actor, but I really
wish the filmmakers would highlight some of the other team members
accordingly. Storm's role is expanded significantly in this story, which
would be nice, but Halle Berry's acting is perhaps the most wooden it's ever
been. Though she's given more to work with here in the script, the
change of director may have ultimately hurt what could've been a more
initially intrigued at the idea of Kelsey Grammer playing Beast, but where
Alan Cumming (absent here and not even mentioned) as Nightcrawler in the last
movie managed to sell the image and character so well, Kelsey just looks like
a guy in a big blue fur suit. It's not as convincing as you'd hope.
His voice and demeanor works for the role, but the believability just isn't
there in the end. Several characters end up being wasted in the script.
Rogue, who is a pretty central character in the previous flicks, leaves the
story halfway through, and is absent for a majority of the film. The
character of Angel (Ben Foster), who was heavily promoted in the trailers and
ad campaigns, is barely used at all, and kind of feels like an afterthought
addition. Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) is in the film, but also doesn't
have much to do, aside from literally throw Wolverine into battle.
Mystique has an absolutely great moment halfway through, which serves as the
most effective emotional moment in the story. It's heartbreaking and yet
so appropriate, but the sheer shock of what happens makes it a terrific plot
point. Professor X doesn't get much to do here either, other than look
worried, leaving us with yet another sensation of a wasted character.
Jean Grey starts out with the potential to do some interesting things, but
ends up being mostly a background figure in the end, which really sucks for
fans of the classic Phoenix Saga storyline. Perhaps the only character
that really gets the royal treatment is Magneto, whose motives aren't
necessarily all that shocking. He fights because he feels threatened,
and his cause is actually understandable. Maybe the means he uses to
accomplish his goals are a bit harsh, but he does have a good reason behind
One thing I was surprised by was the amount of violence, which has definitely
been ramped up a bit. A lot of people die here, and some in very violent
fashion. There's one scene with Magneto where he alone wipes out over a
dozen men in a matter of seconds, without showing any remorse. Even some
of the mutants are disposed of graphically. I guess the MPAA gets a
little lax these days if the source material comes from a comic book.
There are some major deaths in the film, including three principal X-Men
members, and a few characters end up losing their powers to the cure serum.
Comic fans will find some nice glory moments peppered throughout the story,
including a few scenes that will bring out sincere cheers. There's
definitely plenty of action here, especially at the end. But the film is
a little too packed for its own good. Some scenes feel over thought, as
if Ratner was going out of his way to include as much as possible. Some
of the popular comic storylines are paid homage to, but not always in
satisfying ways. The average moviegoer will most likely find it all to
be great entertainment, but the hardcore X-fan might not like the way certain
elements are handled. I find myself remembering select scenes as being
VERY cool, thought they're surrounding by a muddled script. Brett Ratner
handles the action pretty well for the most part. Some of the battles
are about as good as they could possibly be, like the final battle of Iceman
and Pyro which is a comic fan's dream come true, but others (such as the two
Storm and Callisto fights) are a tad too frantic. Also absent from this
outing is the serious nature of Wolverine. He's a little over-humorous
on more than one occasion, and that's a character that should always be
brooding by nature. The ending leaves a lot of plot points unresolved,
and comes across as just convenient instead of appropriate. I was almost
to the point of accepting what I had watched, but the way things are wrapped
up just wasn't enough to placate me. I would certainly say this is the
weakest of the three films, primarily because of the story. But if
you're looking for cool comic book action, you could do a lot worse. I
have to wonder how Singer would've wrapped things up had he stayed on board.
I guess it all would've depended on what the story would've been in that
situation. I'm not trying to bash Brett Ratner for the work he did, but
those were some pretty big shoes to fill. Will there be another film?
Probably. This one ends in such a way to where it wouldn't be out of the
question. I just hope that the next time around will focus more on the
Note: stay until the end of the credits for a little surprise.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being best, I give X-MEN: THE LAST STAND a 6.
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