Film Reviews

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND

By • May 26th, 2006 •

Share This:

20th Century Fox presents in association with Marvel Entertainment
MPAA rating PG-13 / Running time — 104 minutes

I liked it. Everyone was angry, really tense, and emotionally charged up. And, they got rid of the dead wood. Hated the Blue Beast.

I liked it. Everyone was angry, really tense, and emotionally charged up. And, they got rid of the dead wood. Hated the Blue Beast.

I know I’m going to pay dearly for that pull-quote. I’m still defending my gay credentials answering vicious emails (my RENT review) as well as furious emails about my reviews of SILENT HILL (and I liked it!) and SERENITY (I hated it). I seem to be getting surprisingly complimentary emails about my review of THE DA VINCI CODE (discounting the folks who suggest I get a better spell check program), so I am now psychologically prepared to take on the X-MEN loyalists.

That said, I am not an X-MEN reader, so as a neophyte I am reviewing this third installment of the franchise purely on its cinematic value. I know you don’t care. You want all reviewers to be disciples of the X-MEN mythology.

I happen to like what director Brett Ratner has done with it. While he probably did not have much to do with fiddling with the sanctioned storyline, he chose strong-willed close-ups and directed the actors to be really angry and emotionally on the edge of reason.

However, contrary to the intention, the level of mutant destruction of public property had me almost cheering for the humans.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND is supposed to be the last installment but I strongly doubt it. Three-picture contracts are up. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) wants his own franchise. Mutants are getting sexier and their super-powers are more impressive. Budgets are bigger and the franchise doesn’t need names. Time to highlight teenagers with issues (important audience demographics) and cast unknowns without big back-end demands.

Rogue needs to go back to Oklahoma and leave HARD CANDY’S Ellen Page (here as Kitty Pryde) to take center-stage.

If the writers can unearth Jean Grey, the best of Magneto’s clan, Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) will come back. Let’s hope we have seen the last of the gay duo, Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Pyro (Aaron Stanford). Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) must be a comic book favorite but he is useless here.

As far as the premise goes, who doesn’t want super powers? I have a large group of friends who all believe they have super powers: They are psychic, healers, mediums, remote viewers, talk to angels and dead people, have sex with ETs, come directly from other planets, or are reincarnated famous people. Everyone is desperate to be special and have powers. But, in X-MEN world, “mutants with glorious flying powers” are hated.

I’ll ask the disciples: If, by a quirk of some unknown DNA fusion with an X-factor, you are not a born a “mutant,” can anyone have a child who has superpowers? That’s pretty democratic. Where is the “I am chosen, you were not” theme?

In the real world, people would be trying hysterically to have super-babies. If the amniocenteses came back “normal,” you could elect to “discontinue” the pregnancy and try again for a super-baby. In the very near future, we will all have what we really want: beautiful designer babies.

Nobody in X-MEN World likes having superpowers. They want to be normal and ordinary slaves to the Laws of Nature – just like us. That certainly means no flying, walking through walls, or changing into different people at will. They want to wait on line and travel by bus?

There is a pharmaceutical cure and, wouldn’t you know it, neither Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) nor Magneto (Ian McKellen) likes the idea. But they have different methods about how to combat the mutant menace cure of Warren Worthington Sr. (Michael Murphy) and his band of scientists. Worthington is unhappy his son (Ben Foster) has wings and can fly.

How much did Kelsey Grammer pay 20th Century Fox to be in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND? Here is a good case of an obscenely wealthy TV actor using his clout and syndication money to be part of a blockbuster. What’s next? His Playboy wife Camille in movies? Grammer plays hairy, blue-tinged Dr. Henry McCoy/Beast, who is the Secretary of Mutant Affairs. Dr. McCoy’s lumbering nearly cripples the movie. As a contractual clause, he gets to wear an X-Men costume that barely fits.

Xavier’s saintly teacher crew is back: Besides the groomed Wolverine, unloved Storm (Halle Berry) has a new hairdo and a cat fight, Cyclops (James Marsden) takes off his glasses, Rogue (Anna Paquin) still can’t hold any screen time and Jean Grey defies death by being resurrected as Dark Phoenix. It’s the ugly, but far more interesting, part of her powers. Her reptilian brain is unleashed.

Both Xavier and Magneto want her as their own little manipulated plaything.

These mutants are outcasts but they do have a caste system. Dark Phoenix is a Level 5 Mutant!

It would have been daring if screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn had added some sociological ideology into the uneasy themes behind X-Men. At least they can’t avoid Magneto’s Genghis Khan philosophy of warfare and his Nazi-style costume.

Ratner uses his budget to impressively destroy a nice little neighborhood, a part of the Planet Earth, and the remodeling of the Golden Gate Bridge. The visual effects merit mention and Ratner has delivered on his promise to invigorate the franchise. With so many characters laid to rest, it is time to look towards a more sinister plot – with a worthy villain.


Credits:
Director: Brett Ratner
Screenwriters: Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn
Producers: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Avi Arad
Executive producers: Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, John Palermo
Director of photography: Dante Spinotti
Production designer: Edward Verreaux
Editors: Mark Helfrich, Mark Goldblatt, Julia Wong
Costume designer: Judianna Makovsky
Music: John Powell
Visual effects supervisor: John Bruno

Cast:
Logan/Wolverine: Hugh Jackman
Storm: Halle Berry
Professor Charles Xavier: Patrick Stewart
Magneto: Ian McKellen
Jean Grey: Famke Janssen
Rogue: Anna Paquin
Dr. Henry McCoy/Beast: Kelsey Grammer
Cyclops: James Marsden
Mystique: Rebecca Romijn
Bobby Drake/Iceman: Shawn Ashmore
Pyro: Aaron Stanford
Juggernaut: Vinnie Jones
Warren Worthington III/Angel: Ben Foster
Kitty Pryde: Ellen Page
Callisto: Dania Ramirez

Tagged as: , ,
Share This Article: Digg it | del.icio.us | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)