X-Men: The Last Stand

X-MenLastStandPosterHugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan
Famke Janssen as Jean Grey
Halle Berry as Storm/Ororo Munroe
Ian McKellen as Magneto/Erik Lensherr
Kelsey Grammer as The Beast/Dr. Hank McCoy
Michael Murphy as Warren Worthington, Sr.
Patrick Stewart as Charles Patrick Xavier
James Marsden as Cyclops/Scott Summers
Shawn Ashmore as Iceman/Bobby Drake
Ellen Page as Shadowcat/Kitty Pryde
Anna Paquin as Rogue/Marie
Vinnie Jones as The Juggernaut/Cain Marko
Aaron Stanford as Pyro/John Allerdyce
Ben Foster as Angel/Warren Worthington, Jr.
Bill Duke as Secretary Trask

Good God, that cast is unreal! And I should add that I failed to include a few mutants because they exist solely to do mutant things. Now, I’m well aware that Colossus and Callisto aren’t supposed to be non-entities, but they are in this movie.

Of course, nobody complains that Martin Scorsese’s mafia movies often had excessive casts, but you better know what you’re doing. And I really can’t say that of Brett Ratner, who took over as director for this series after Bryan Singer, bowed out in favor of Superman Returns (a decision they probably regretted after that movie didn’t do well at the box office). Ratner is probably best known for directing the Rush Hour duology of martial arts comedies and had ironically been one of the directors to helm Superman Returns during its many years in development Hell. Alas, he was in way over his head. You see, these movies do drama, which is one thing Ratner definitely doesn’t do.

X-MenLastStand1

James Marsden: “Ciao, guys! I’m off to Superman Returns, too!”

At first it seems that this movie is about scientists inventing a “cure” for the X-gene. Some mutants have problems above and beyond persecution because of their mutations and welcome this solution, but most are offended by the very concept that there is something wrong with them. Unfortunately, not much is done with this. It’s little more than a gimmick for shock value. The central plot deals with Jean Grey. Thought to have killed in X2, she survived because of a powerful but dangerous entity within her known as The Phoenix. She has been taught her whole life to suppress it by Professor Xavier, but now it has taken over Jean. Multiple characters are killed by her, but Magneto, unlike Xavier, feels that The Phoenix’ powers can be controlled and makes her a member of his Brotherhood of Mutants.

That’s not such a bad idea, but where does the cure angle fit in? It’s really got nothing to do with what ends up the main storyline. Other than the son of the guy who designed it turning out to be a mutant himself, it really doesn’t belong here. But as if plot points that go nowhere aren’t bad enough, the movie basically gets worse.

Ratner’s vision of the series evidently required a lot of tinkering with this series. I guess that’s why so many major characters are killed or otherwise retired. Unfortunately, some of these eliminations are so abrupt that they serve little purpose but to make way for characters Ratner really wanted to use. That Ratner lacks Singer’s ability to humanize, er, people-ize, his characters doesn’t help one bit. He doesn’t make these characters unbelievable or anything, but they’re very plain, one-dimensional.

Not a bad wookie makeup job.

Not a bad wookie makeup job.

The dialogue in this movie isn’t as bad as that of fellow inferior superhero sequel Batman and Robin, but it’s really close. Lines like “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch” and Magneto moving a bridge as he quips, “Charles always wanted to build bridges,” are embarassing. This, of course, goes hand in hand with lousy character development; dialogue is what makes a character.

The script is even worse than the dialogue. I noted before that there is some confusion over what this movie is about. So it’s no surprise that X-Men: The Last Stand has lots of plot holes. One movie after Magneto causes a flood that nearly kills the X-Men, he’s content to safely launch Wolverine out of the Brotherhood’s hideout to fight another day. And, of course, uncounted reviews of this movie note that Magneto sees great advantage in Jean’s new powers, but makes no use of them in the climatic battle capping off this film.

Plus, having the guy with the metal skeleton fight the guy who controls metal might not be the best plan.

And I could be wrong, but having the guy with the metal skeleton fight the guy who controls metal might not be the best plan.

I will now explain what The Last Stand does right. The acting is still as good as if Singer had directed it. Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart again do bang-up jobs as their characters. With very little James Marsden (again, he was going to another comic book franchise for another studio) in this movie, Storm is the field leader. And Halle Berry is great in this capacity. Kelsey Grammer plays not the Frasier doctor but Hank McCoy, a scientific doctor and monster-looking new X-Man. He’s not half-bad, either. Consider the overdue introduction of The Beast to these movies to be Ratner’s contribution.

Also, I have to admit that this movie is technically outstanding. The elemental mutants’ powers are truly a sight to behold! And the fight choreography is no less advanced than the Jackie Chan movies that Ratner directed. But eliminate good character development and throw in awful dialogue and plotting and these strengths are really not enough.

X-Men: The Last Stand is yet another example of how every series seems to go downhill after awhile. While there are worse movies out there, I would just ignore it. Besides, isn’t that what Singer’s new movie has done?

Overall: 4 out of 10

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