X-Men 3: The Last Stand Reviewby Steve Rhodes (Steve DOT Rhodes AT InternetReviews DOT com)
July 10th, 2006
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2006 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): *** 1/2
By far the best in the series, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND is operatic in scope, especially in its rousing ending, but has a simple and easily accessible plot. This class A popcorn flick is also a heck of a lot of fun.
Directed this time by Brett Ratner (the RUSH HOUR series) instead of Bryan Singer (SUPERMAN RETURNS), who did the first two in the series, the movie is both majestic and funny -- and superbly entertaining.
The plot this time concerns a cure for the mutant gene. Once "cured," the mutants lose their special powers. Needless to say, this miracle of modern science is not popular within the mutant community. (There are obvious but not explored parallels between what is going on in the story and certain movements today to treat behavior deemed abnormal by some. But X-MEN: THE LAST STAND isn't a preachy movie but a thoroughly enjoyable one.)
The mutant community quickly divides into different camps, both opposed to the government "offering" the cure. Leading the non-violent protest movement are Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his band, which include Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Beast (Kelsey Grammer). Next are the revolutionaries, who are ready to destroy the world if need be to kill the cure. Magneto (Ian McKellen) leads this group, which also includes Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), Pyro (Aaron Stanford) and Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones).
The pivotal figure in this third episode is Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who, we learn, has a dual personality. In her evil side, this class 5 -- as in the most powerful -- mutant is called Phoenix. To attempt to make love to Phoenix is like having sex with the devil, as Wolverine briefly and painfully comes to realize. Janssen's compelling character, a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, can literally blow her opponents to bits, little bitty bits. So which side this character ends up on determines the balance of power in the war between the mutant factions. Sure, normal humans fight, but they are generally ineffectual and unimportant to the battle.
My only small disappointment came in the new casting of Ellen Page as Shadowcat, a girl who can walk through walls. Page does everything asked, but her role is quite underwritten. In HARD CANDY, as the teenager who realistically threatens to castrate her pedophile stalker, Page was a real force to be reckoned with. But in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, she is by far the least intimidating of the lot. This actress has a power that this film left untapped. Maybe the next script will provide her with a meatier role so that she can devour it as voraciously as she is capable.
The music is grand and the special effects are indeed really special, whether they are doing something as elaborate as reallocating bridge resources or as simple as moving the traffic around.
"Nothing can stop us!" Magneto shouts to his assembled masses, like a cult leader ready to hand out the Kool-Aid or the guns to his rabid followers. And, after the sheer joy of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, nothing should stand in the way of the advancement of its celluloid franchise.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND runs 1:44. It is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and language" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 17, gave it ****, said it is the best of the series. He loved it. He liked the way that they were willing to try any twist by killing off characters or bringing back dead ones. Finding it phenomenal from start to finish, he liked everything about it, especially the good blend of action and character building.
The film is playing in nationwide release now in the United States. In the Silicon Valley, it is showing at the AMC theaters, the Century theaters and the Camera Cinemas.
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