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The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand

What She said:

She

The day has come for mutants across the globe; a cure has been found.  And that is the precursor to the drama that unfolds in the final film of the 2000s X-Men trilogy.  The first two movies were quite good, as you can read in my other reviews, but so often trilogies lose momentum and eventually disappoint (Anyone remember Spiderman 3?)  So, the question loomed as to whether or not X-Men: The Last Stand would share that fate.  Some have been very hard on this movie, but while I don’t think it lives up to the other two in the series, I also think that this third film is a pretty decent action indulgence.

We join the X-Mencrew in the not-too-distant future and yes, a cure has been found and made available.  Of course, there are those who love this idea—mostly humans who feel threatened by mutants.  But there are also many mutants who are in favor of returning their bodies to a more traditional form, Rogue included.  As you can imagine, Magneto is not a fan, and so he begins to collect some henchmen so that he can attack the vaccine disbursement facility and wage the ultimate war against mankind.  So the X-Men have this to deal with.  But there’s also a whole lot of trouble at home.  Cyclops is struggling to move past Jean Grey’s death, but he doesn’t have to worry for too long because Jean makes a reappearance as the Phoenix.  Now, this is not necessarily a good thing.  We learn a bit about Jean’s past and her relationship with Charles Xavier.  She’s a very special mutant, more powerful than the rest, and her ordeal has made her flat out dangerous.  Charles and Wolverine focus on reining Jean in as the other X-Men turn their attentions to fighting Magneto.  It all comes to a culmination with a huge final fight sequence.  And you can imagine how things turn out (spoiler alert: this movie comes with a body count).

The Last Stand

While Bryan Singer went off to do his own thing, Brett Ratner stepped in as director for X-Men: The Last Stand, and it’s this change of style that may be where things went wrong.  Ratner chose to focus on the action and special effects, and some of the complex character development was lost.  But hey, things still look pretty good, and it’s not like there isn’t a storyline at all.  The plot here is actually intriguing.  It’s just not as developed as I would have hoped.  Of all the X-Men, it seems that only Rogue is contemplative of the notion of being “normal.”  There are plenty of characters that I thought they could have done more with, but X-Men: The Last Stand works well enough as a summer popcorn flick.  Magneto can be counted on to throw things around, humans look like buffoons next to the superiority of the mutants, and yes, characters are essentially evaporated. 

It’s not a terrible watch, even if it doesn’t live up to the precedence set by the first two flicks.  It will be interesting to see some of these characters reprised with the next X-Men movie, slated for spring 2014.

Thumbs mostly up.

The Last Stand

 

What He said:

He

I actually remember going to message boards and discussing this movie. There was a lot to talk about. First of all, the original director, Bryan Singer, left the series for Superman Returns. Singer had directed both of the previous movies. Any time one of the original parties involved leaves a series, it raises an eyebrow. Even if their replacement is a big name, you still worry they won’t capture the same look and feel as the previous chapters.

Another concern I had was that the just kept adding one character after another. The X-Men comics have always had a large cast, but movies are different. It’s harder to cram that many characters into movies, especially when they are less than two hours.

They also started substituting characters as the series went on. There are several characters that are in only one of the three movies. Variety is great, but change just for change’s sake

The movie opens up with a flashback sequence of Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) going to visit the house of a prospective student. This was back when they were on better terms with one another and before Magneto turned into a terrorist. The girl they are visiting is a young Jean Grey. Despite her young age, Jean is a very powerful mutant.  But being a child with the power of a demigod makes her very dangerous. Professor X wants to help Jean learn to control her powers, so that she doesn’t her herself or others.

Fast-forward to the present day and the X-Men are still coping with the loss of Jean Grey (she died saving them at the end of the previous movie). Cyclops (James Marsden) is a complete and total mess. Jean (Famke Janssen) was his girlfriend and one of the leaders of the group under Professor X. Because he has been grieving, he has been neglecting his duties as the leader of the X-Men and teacher of the children at Xavider’s school. Cyclops’ absence has forced Wolverine to take up a leadership role, which he’s not too crazy about. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is something of a part timer. He’s a member of the group, but also runs off whenever he feels like it (he’s mostly trying to piece together his mysterious past). Storm (Halle Berry) has also taken on a leadership role because of Jean’s death and Scott’s absence.

Also going on in the present day is something of a crisis for all mutants. An industrialist named Warren Worthington II has invented a “cure” for the mutation that causes mutants to have superpowers. He (Michael Murphy) is motivated by his son, who is a mutant (played by Ben Foster). He wishes to cure his son’s mutation, as he views it as a disability.

The Last Stand

Both Magneto and Xavier receive signs that Jean might have returned from the dead. They both know she died several months ago, but a great power has recently emerged, and she is the strongest mutant they know. She’s also extremely uncontrollable when at her fullest potential. She has another personality that calls itself the Phoenix and it seems to thrive on death and destruction. Jean – with the “help” of the professor – had kept it under control of most of her life, but her near death experience has changed her. Magneto wishes to use her as a weapon in his war against humanity. Xavier wishes to help her get rid of the Phoenix personality once again. Whose side is she on? You’ll have to watch to find out.

I was very skeptical of this movie when it came out, but I ended up liking it. It’s true that it focuses more on action than the other movies, rather than some of the X-Men’s messages of tolerance and acceptance, but there were elements of it still there. The increased action also made for some really fun fight scenes. We got to see a lot more matchups than in previous movies.

Some of the added characters worked well too. Kelsey Grammer was an excellent choice for beast. He has the perfect voice and demeanor for that character. He was a great addition to the cast. I also liked seeing expanded roles of certain characters. I thought it was nice seeing Wolverine and Storm take over for Scott and Jean. I also enjoyed seeing another side of Professor X. The Professor is a good guy, but sometimes does some things with his telepathy that could be considered unethical, but you completely understand why he does it. Jean is a very dangerous person when her full power is unleashed, so you can sympathize for the position the Professor is in. Cyclops is a complete mess in this movie and I liked when they did with his character. Jean’s death destroyed him, so the dark turn makes sense. They also gave Ice Man (Shawn Ashmore) and Rogue (Anna Paquin) expand storylines in this movie, which I liked. The X-Men has always been a big dysfunctional family and I felt this movie portrayed that quite well.

My only complaint about this movie is it felt a little rushed. The movie moves very quickly, a little too quickly at times.  It could have benefited from 20 or so more minutes.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on July 4, 2013.

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