X-Men 3: The Last Stand Review

by FreeKill (fnxfreekill AT gmail DOT com)
May 29th, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand Review
Review By: Chris Stark from http://www.auphanmovies.com

Overall: 2.5/5.0
Story/Plot: 2.0/5.0
Effects: 3.5/5.0
Soundtrack: 3.0/5.0
Directing: 2.0/5.0
Characters: 3.5/5.0

The original two films in the X-Men trilogy really set the standard for what to expect from a comic to film adaptation. While the first Blade movie may have shown that the idea of superheroes on the big screen was financially viable, the original X-Men proved that it was possible to modify one of Marvel's most enduring properties and bring it to life in a serious film, without making it animated or a comedy. Successors such as the Hulk, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Spider-Man, and even the re-envisioning of the Batman franchise last year, all owe a debt to the first X-Men film for setting the standard, and showing the studios what a big time money maker the entire genre can be.

The sequel to the original X-Men film is one of the few films in history that can truly be said to have lived up to its predecessor. Fox did many things right in ensuring this would be the case. Bringing back the same director as the first film was a huge step in the right direction. Second, was to bring back the entire cast who helped make the first film what it was. Finally, they developed another story that once again took place in an almost believable world, and they treated the audience in a way that both forced them to think while immersing them in a world that was completely new. On the development side, X2 was given as much time as it needed to be done "right" without the need to rush effects or plug plot holes. It was these things that made the first film a success, and made the follow-up an even bigger success both financially and with fans all over the world.

Now, on the release date of the third X-Men film, subtitled, The Last Stand, the outlook is not as bright. Gone is the director of the previous two films. Director Brett Ratner was brought in to replace the departed Bryan Singer, but was given such a short timeline to get the job done; it's hard to believe that anyone could do a successful job. Gone is the nicely done story, and the sufficient timeline to do it right. In its place is a mashing of two amazingly detailed stories from the original comic series. While both stories are major milestones in the history of the X-Men, each is a minimum of a movie on its own, possibly multiple, but instead will be compressed into a single story. The only thing that remains is the amazing cast of the previous two films, but the question is, will that be enough to live up to the legacy left by the two that came before it?

As much as it hurts me to say it, X-Men: The Last Stand doesn't even come close.

Hands down the best part about the first two X-Men movies were the storylines and how they were based in a reality we could all relate to. Both films basically focused on what it was like to be an outcast in society, in this case as a human with mutant abilities, and looked at the angle from two opposing views. The first view, that held by the X-Men and specifically Professor X is to help those who are intolerant by showing them that mutants are not much different then your average human being, and both can coexist peacefully. The other opinion, which is held by Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants, is that a war is coming, and those who strike first will win the fight. These ideals are echoed time and again in human history so while the stories of both films are entirely fantasy, complete with characters possessing extraordinary mutant abilities, it is not difficult for the audience to understand where the characters were ultimately coming from.

X-Men: The Last Stand tries hard to grab onto some of that relevancy, but mostly misses the mark altogether. X3 follows the idea of a "Cure", a vaccine developed by a pharmaceutical company that can completely reverse the effects of any mutant ability. While the "Cure" is listed as a voluntary option, it doesn't take long for human paranoia to kick in, and the military to start equipping bullets laced with the cure, just in case. This is very similar to the X-Men comic storyline where the humans dispatch a fleet of military robots known as sentinels, who find and "Cure" mutants without their permission. In this film, however, instead of sentinels they simply use an army equipped with plastic guns (obviously so Magneto can't take them away) and these soldiers are dispatched with the task of taking out any mutant who might stand in their way.

While this underlying story is taking place, another major X-Men comic story also attempts to coexist, the story of the Dark Phoenix. In the film, the Dark Phoenix is more or less the sub-consciousness of Jean Grey. When unleashed, it makes her the most powerful mutant on the planet, capable of evaporating people with a mere thought and unleashing unstoppable destruction on anything that stands in her way.

While these two storyline's definitely have a lot of potential, Director Brett Ratner decides to mostly glaze over the real meat and potatoes of both stories and ultimately does both a disservice in the end. Each of these could have easily carried a two and a half hour film exclusively, but in the case of X3 we get them both stripped and mashed together in a film that doesn't even make it to the two hour mark. As a result, X-Men: The Last Stand, feels like a rough draft version of what the film should have been, with so many plot holes you'll be hard pressed not to have questions about events taking place on the screen. The entire thing is rushed and simply doesn't do either story the justice it deserves.

As with every X-Men film, we have our host of familiar mutants, Jean Grey, Magneto, Wolverine, Ice Man, Rogue, Cyclops, Mystique, Professor X, Storm, etc. but as always, we get introduced to several new ones. Most notably in X3 is the character of Beast, played by Kelsey Grammer. While initially the character seems really phony on screen, near the end, as the mutants begin the epic battle at the films climax, the character really had a chance to show what he was made of and actually kind of left a decent impression on me overall. Other new characters on the X-Men side include Kitty Pride, who we saw a little of in the previous films, but get to really see what she's made of in X3 and Angel a man with a full set of wings on his back. Both characters are interesting, but really get little screen time with such a huge ensemble cast, which is really a shame for both the franchise and the audience in attendance.

On the Villain side, once again we meet a whole host of characters, the most notable of the bunch being Juggernaut and Callisto. While Callisto (played by Dania Ramirez) does get a decent amount of screen time, her role in the overall movies events are really downplayed and in fact, she ends up coming across as kind of a useless. While she does have a decent fight with Storm near the end, it doesn't really make up for her universal waste of screen time throughout the rest of the film. Juggernaut, on the other hand, rarely graces the screen, but when he does, he really adds a lot to the overall film. He is definitely high on the list of successful additions to the roster, and hopefully we'll get to see more of him in the next film.

As for the established characters, they are more or less the same as you would expect from the previous two films. As always, Professor X, Magneto, Jean Grey, and Wolverine are the best of the best and once again Storm, Cyclops, Rogue, and several others are more or less just filler. I don't understand why these films cater to Halle Berry's character by increasing her screen time in every film. While she is definitely easy on the eyes, Storm is easily the worst character of the crew and because of that she really ends up hurting the film more than helping. Wolverine is great, as usual, although this film tends to use him as more of a comic relief gimmick, which I really didn't like. The battle between Professor X and Magneto is once again at the fulcrum of the film, and both veteran actors play their respective characters perfectly. All in all though, the actors are only as good as the story they've been brought in to tell, and this film simply doesn't do any of them justice.

Probably the best thing this film has going for it is the amazing special effects, even though many of them felt rough and could have used some polish. The massive mutant vs. human vs. mutant battle at the films climax is really a site to behold with hundreds of mutants fighting a war using their respective abilities to their full potential. I would have loved to see this done in more detail with more focus on some of the individual battles, but for the most part this is easily the most satisfying moment in the film, and definitely the single largest action scene in any of the three films.

Overall, X-Men: The Last Stand is no Rocky III or Superman III, but it definitely isn't a Return of the Jedi either. As a film, it is a decent summer action flick with all of the ingredients, Action, Comedy, and Mutant Superpowers. As a sequel to two of the most beloved comic adaptations of all time, and personally two of my favorite movies of all time, this film is just a complete failure and does not do either of the films the justice they deserve. If the opening night showing we had is any indication though, this movie is going to do huge business this weekend, so I take hope in the fact that this is probably not the last X-Men movie we'll see before my days on earth are done. Lets just hope that the next one spends a little time coming up with a story that stays true to the X-Men lineage while still managing to show us a glimpe of what a world of mutant abilities might be like.

Please come back Bryan, this franchise needs you...For those who do check out this film, make sure you stay till after the credits. For some reason, they have added about a 10 second clip that you really don't want to miss.

- www.auphanmovies.com

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