The loud sound that you'll hear coming from movie theaters across the country is the collective sigh of relief of fans of the X-Men film franchise. Their fears were unfounded; Director Brett Ratner did not destroy the X-Men franchise with the third installment, "X-Men: The Last Stand." However, Ratner and company didn't create a film on par with the amazing "X2: X-Men United" either. "The Last Stand" isn't a terrible film, it's just merely okay.
In "The Last Stand" human-mutant relations are turned upside down when a businessman creates a mutant cure that removes a mutant's abilities. The revelation of the cure sends Magneto and his mutant army, the Brotherhood on the warpath. In addition to facing down an army of angry, evil mutants and dealing with the repercussions of the mutant cure, the X-Men must also contend with the return of Jean Grey, who was believed dead at the end of the last film. Jean's return brings to light a dark secret that will have devastating consequences for the entire team.
If this sounds like a lot a lot to address in a one hour and 43 minute movie, that's because it is. One of "The Last Stand's" biggest flaws is it tries to do too much. There's a huge cast in the film and the audience never really gets a chance to bond with the characters, especially the new ones. One character does something particularly cool or interesting and the film doesn't follow up; it immediately cuts to another character. The sub plot following Angel (played by Ben Foster) is wasted and results in a predictable and sappy pay off.
However, a few actors do make the most of their screen time. Hugh Jackman again shines as Wolverine. Kelsey Grammer overcomes some awkward seeming make-up to nail the part of Hank McCoy/The Beast. People who doubted that Dr. Frasier Crane could pull off a convincing fight scene will be very impressed to see the Beast spring into battle during the film's climax. In the few minutes of screen time that she has, actress Ellen Page perfectly captures the intelligence and compassion that make Kitty Pryde such a compelling character.
The film also provides plenty of fun and exciting action sequences. Wolverine's forest battle with members of the Brotherhood was very cool and the film's climatic battle on Alcatraz Island is of an epic scale and offers the combatants many opportunities to show off their impressive powers.
Unfortunately, like many action films, "The Last Stand" occasionally decides to do something that looks cool or dramatic instead of what's painfully obvious. So that he and the Brotherhood can invade Alcatraz Island, Magneto uses his powers to move the Golden Gate Bridge. I guess the Master of Magnetism forgot that one of the members of his Brotherhood could fly him and his troops over to the island without breaking a sweat. Also, the dramatic impact of the climax of the film is undercut by the failure to address the presence of the mutant cure in that scene (To say anymore would spoil the ending).
Like previous X-Men films, there is much in the last stand for fans of the comic books. Mutant-philes will be able to identify right away one of the unnamed opponents that Wolverine tangles with in the forest. Also look for a cameo appearance by another one of the X-Men's most fearsome foes in the opening scene.
Comic fans should appreciate the many inside references in the film. However, fans who want the film to slavishly follow the comic books be warned! There are some scenes that will anger and upset you in this film. If you can separate the film from the comics, you won't mind these scenes as they lend emotional weight to the film.
Since it's billed as "The Last Stand," many people might expect this third X-Men film to be the end of the franchise and indeed the film does resolve many plot threads from the other films. However, as most people know, Hollywood never passes up the potential to make more money. So, if "X-Men: The Last Stand" is the end of the franchise it closes on a satisfactory note, but the end does leave things open for future installments; Especially, the scene that happens after the credits role. Make sure you sit through the credits for that scene. Its impact on the film as a whole is huge.
So, is "X-Men: The Last Stand" the stink bomb many fan predicted it would be early on? No, not at all. It's an entertaining film that does suffer from some glaring flaws, but quality wise it's about on par with the original X-Men film. "X-Men 3: The Last Stand" may not have recaptured the excellence that was the second film, but it's not a bad way to spend an hour and forty five minutes and it should leave fans hungry for the possible first in a series of proposed X-Men spin-off films, where Hugh Jackman would once again reprise the role of everyone's favorite Canucklehead, Wolverine.
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