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X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
May 26, 2006
Grade:
B+
Running Time: 
1 Hour 43 Minutes

When’s the last time a popular movie series released three films that were all good?  Okay, Indiana Jones and Nuke ‘em High, but lately?  My mind is still recoiling in horror from the last two Matrix films, and because of that I didn’t think that trilogies could actually work these days.  As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised here; the only serious flaw I saw with this movie was that it wasn’t longer, giving it a sort of “rushed” feeling.  I believe that it’s only fair to note that I have never read the comics, so this is the kind of review that’s geared mostly towards the people like me who watched the Saturday morning cartoon, played the massive arcade game, the cool Genesis game, and of course went to the theater.  I can’t tell you how this movie compares to the comics because I’m simply not qualified to.

This time around, the entire United States government isn’t trying to destroy all of mutant kind.  In fact, the President has Beast on his cabinet as the secretary of mutant affairs, and the only anti-mutant efforts in place are in locating Magneto.  But things get a bit complicated when some scientists develop a serum that suppresses the mutant gene and market it as a cure.  While there are no laws or steps in place to force mutants to take this drug, Magneto views it as a WMD and gives the United States an ultimatum: destroy this drug or face the consequences. Of course, although the X-Men are a bit offended by this cure, they certainly don’t agree with Magneto’s solution to the problem either, setting the stage for a large scale mutant showdown.   As a wild card in all this, Jean Grey comes back as the Phoenix, an alter ego that Professor X explains has been “caged” within her psyche since she was a child.  For most of the film she seems to side with Magneto, but she is really an independent who is capable of destroying everything around her on an insane whim, and has no problem doing so.  

When it comes down to it, a movie like this is more character driven than plot driven, and for the most part they deliver.  Wolverine is still the star of the show, and Hugh Jackman retains his mix of comedy and ferocity.  Magneto is still the embodiment of awesomeness; even though he wears his “dorky helmet” a little too much this time around, he shows us all how one man can stop an FBI convoy, and when he needs to get his army across the water to Alcatraz... well, lets just say he could have safely removed Luke’s X-Wing from the swamp.  Patrick Stewart plays the perfect Professor X again, but should be no surprise as the character is a man who leads and nurtures younger people, helping them to discover their own talents.  As for Cyclops, it seems the producers finally realized that they cast horribly for him, and steps were taken to remedy this; he remains the character that got the least amount of justice from the films.  Of course, Halle Berry isn’t exactly the best Storm either, but she’s an Oscar winner, so who cares?  She repeats her part two performance and doesn’t try to fake the accent anymore.  Many of the newer characters are given more background roles, but that’s to be expected with the ever-growing cast.  Still, watching Juggernaut smash through several concrete walls and Colossus carrying a 30 inch television under one arm provide some the better small details that help to make a good movie.  The voice of R. Lee Ermy as, you guessed it, a sergeant at the Alcatraz facility, adds another small gem to the pile.

And then there’s the Dark Phoenix.  Here is a character that successfully portrays pure rage, rivaling Carrie White herself.  The special effects used to contort her face into a mask of fiery wrath are excellent and the insanity she displays even when calm is frightening in its own right.  Professor X, ever the voice of reason, certainly has his hands full trying to calm this one down.  Vinnie Jones plays the big but not-too-bright Juggernaut just fine and Mystique is still incredibly fine in that weird blue way.   On the flip side, one of the movie’s weaker points that was thankfully not dwelled on was the Dawson’s Creek-style romantic triangle between Iceman, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde.  There is absolutely no excuse to put this juvenile garbage in any movie that has “Men” in the title.

All in all, fans of the comics will have their own unique perspective, but it’s pretty safe to say that anyone who enjoyed the previous two films as films will enjoy this one.    There is no “reinventing the wheel” here, just the same characters fighting yet another battle of ideals.  While it’s true that this approach doesn’t offer anything new, it also doesn’t give as much room for error either.  For example, if we discovered this time around that mutants are rated by the amount of mediclorians in their blood, we would all be screaming for the original wouldn’t we?

Review by Lewis Hawkins