X-Men: The Last Stand (DVD, 2009, 2-Disc Set, Checkpoint; Includes Digital Copy; Sensormatic;W)

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X-Men 3 stands last in the trilogy

May 29, 2006
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great FX...

Cons:... what happened to the plot and the characters?!?!?!?

The Bottom Line: The third X-Men film only just scrapes a recommended rating. Not in the same league as the first two films.


I loved the first two X-Men films so was of course eagerly awaiting the final part of the trilogy. However with Bryan Singer walking out of the X-Men franchise after the second instalment to direct Superman Returns instead, I did almost expect to leave the cinema feeling somewhat disappointed. Still, you never know, eh?

Background

The X-Men are mutants, well more specifically they are the mutants that, under the benign leadership of Professor Xavier (a mutant with powerful psychic abilities) want to leave in harmony with the humans on the earth. On the other hand we have mutants who (sometimes for compelling reasons it has to be admitted) resent humans and believe they will never be tolerant of those different to them. In the first film, the two groups battle as the bad guys’ leader, Magneto (who has the ability to manipulate metal) hatches a plan to alter the world’s leaders at an important summit in a way that would force them to become more tolerant of mutants. However his plans have drastic side-effects and the X-Men have to stop him before it’s too late. Then in the second film, it’s a human who becomes the enemy of all mutants, so the good guys and bad guys have to team up for the greater good. As you’d expect this isn’t quite as straightforward as it might sound, either during or after the initial objective has been accomplished. It doesn’t work out too well for the good guys though with one of their main characters dying and one of their most promising students falling to the power of the dark side… oops sorry too much Star Wars influence recently… and joining forces with Magneto and the gorgeous but deadly Mystique. Both films had great special effects, involving plots that were intelligently developed, and terrific action sequences.

On to the finale with The Last Stand

Plot

[[ Spoiler Alert for those who have been unbelievably unobservant / know nothing whatsoever about the previous films / have somehow failed to see a single poster or trailer advertising the film ]]

Jean Gray, apparently dead at the end of X-Men 2, is back in this third film – but she’s not quite the same gal we’ve come to know and be vaguely disinterested in (or love, I guess). If you somehow hadn’t already worked out that she was in this film, don’t blame me for telling you, I did put in the spoiler warning! [[ End of probably not spoiler ]] Interestingly this film begins with a young Jean Gray being visited by Xavier and Magneto, then friends working together, as they encourage her to join Xavier’s school for the gifted. Then we cut to a few years later, with a young mutant trying to cut away the part of him that makes him a mutant. His father’s reaction to this leads to the one of the two main plot elements of The Last Stand, the development of a cure for mutants, who are divided at the announcement of this – to some it is an insult that they are thought to need “curing”, whereas to others it is a dream come true. Needless to say, Magneto and his growing gang of psychotic mutants are among the former group, who go beyond thinking that they do not need a cure – they view themselves as the cure, with the disease being humanity!

The Film

After viewing the film, here’s what I think happened:

Bryan Singer was shown the script, and said, “that’s not good enough, I’m going to direct something else instead”.

Several of the stars saw the script and didn’t really want to be involved, but were cajoled into doing a brief cameo role in the film.

New Director Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour”, “The Family Man”) isn’t someone I’m particularly familiar with but does seem more suited to comedy films, and was onto a bit of a loser here right from the start. The remaining characters weren’t interesting enough to hold together an already creaking plot.

That’s not to say that the film isn’t entertaining – it is, and in some places could be compared in quality to the previous films. Overall though it really is lacking something – the fact that the film is not afraid to shock, with key characters being killed off at various stages in the film (I’m saying no more) was quite a brave decision (though if my theory above is right it was through circumstance rather than choice). However it does seem to try to shock on every occasion, which makes the shocks lose impact. The fact some important characters die quite early in the film means that if they were the ones you particularly identified with, you will be somewhat distanced from what happens in the rest of the film. The action scenes were also of the drawn-out, intense sort that after a while are more prone to send you to sleep than anything (think The Island, Batman Begins, and King Kong). If you really liked those films you will be much more likely to enjoy this one. If like me you thought the first two were all right but nothing special, you’ll likely come to the same conclusion about this one.

There were plus points – the music was pretty good, the special effects were unsurprisingly enough very good, and Halle Berry, finally getting a bit more to do as Storm, gives by far her best performance of the three films. Trouble is, almost every other character was either a cameo or a bit part – and the few characters that were focused on a little were pretty boring. A nearly-interesting love triangle was built up between Bobby (“Ice-Man”), Rogue, and another girl – and then discarded just before it actually got interesting. The grudge duel between Ice-Man and Pyro was painfully obvious. Many characters just stood around most of the time instead of doing anything useful or even vaguely interesting, while many characters were there for one purpose only. Even Ian McKellan managed to fluff what should have been one of the most poignant lines of the film. (“What have I done”.) The ending was way too obvious and it somehow didn’t actually feel like a proper ending – can’t quite put my finger on why but it just didn’t.

Seeing Kelsey Grammer as a huge blue doctor (with one or two classic Frasier-like one-liners – not quite sure whether they were intentional!) and Vinny Jones as the unstoppable Juggernaut were entertaining though and help to just push this onto a recommended rating. Fans of the previous films will be disappointed though will want to see how it ends anyway (though predictably the ending, almost a pastiche of the ending in the first film, leaves the way open for more X-Men films), and people who haven’t seen the other films may not be as disappointed with this as I was. Then again, they may not entirely be able to follow the plot initially.

Overall X-Men 3: The Last Stand was entertaining but disappointing. Not a patch on X-Men 1 or 2… but then did I really expect it to be?



Related Links

X-Men

X2: X-Men United

Top Ten Superhero Movies




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