X-Men: The Last Stand

Here’s our review of this summer’s much-hyped, big-budget thrill ride which, however, has brought charges of blasphemy from the faithful.

X-Men 3, of course. Erm… What movie were you thinking of?

Directed by Brett Ratner
Written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn

Cast
Hugh Jackman…Logan/Wolverine
Halle Berry…Ororo/Storm
Ian McKellen…Lensherr/Magneto

Famke Janssen…Jean Grey/Phoenix
Kelsey Grammer…Hank McCoy/Beast
Patrick Stewart…Prof. Charles Xavier
Rebecca Romijn…Raven/Mystique
Ellen Page…Kitty Pryde

Anna Paquin…Marie/Rogue
James Marsden…Scott/Cyclops
Shawn Ashmore…Bobby/Iceman
Aaron Stanford…Pyro
Vinnie Jones …Juggernaut
Ben Foster…Angel
Aaron Stanford…Pyro
Dania Ramirez…Callisto
Michael Murphy…Worthington
Josef Sommer…the President
Bill Duke…Trask
Daniel Cudmore…Colossus
Kea Wong…Jubilee
Stan Lee…Hose Man

Premise:

An instant, apparently permanent “cure” for mutants creates controversy and conflict, just as the world’s most powerful mutant appears.

High Points:

1. Ya want action sequences? This film features a number of extraordinary fight scenes and pyrotechnical displays. The final battle boasts impressive visuals.

“Does it look like we need your help?”

2. Although the running metaphor of mutant=any deviant, different, or disadvantaged group could have been developed further, this film continues to play with the real-world parallels, and problematize them. What disabilities and differences should be “cured?” Who decides? Charles Xavier wants mutants to embrace their differences, but this film shows that his hand are not clean. The response received by Worthington when he insists that he only wants “to help you people” will resonate with many audience members.

3. One family gives an amusing response as Magneto passes on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Low Points

1. In the final sequence, Jean Grey is forced to stand around for no really good reason and do nothing, until the first battle has ended. Her own finale seems forced and clichéd. If the filmmakers had used only one of these plots (Phoenix or Cure) and developed certain moments, they would have made a better film, with a more lasting effect.

2. Some comic-book costumes don’t translate particularly well to film. Magneto’s helmet is one such costume. McKellan is a strong actor and makes the part work, but he still ends up looking like a 60s action figure whenever he dons the helmet.

3. There’s one facility that guards an important mutant and produces the “cure,” and the government cannot figure out what the Brotherhood’s target will be?

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 The film adapts a number of storylines and elements that have appeared in the X-Men comic.

Effects: 5/6 This film features spectacular special effects. Certain CGI effects– such as the freezing of the mansion’s fountain– failed to impress me, but I’m willing to overlook it in a film with so many great effects shots. Visually, this is the most impressive of the X-Movies.

Story: 3/6. The writers actually do an admirable job of weaving the Dark Phoenix and Mutant Cure plots together, and a fair one of handling so many characters. However, it’s still too much plot for one movie with too many characters, and it feels cluttered. Character development gets sacrificed, to the detriment of the film.

Acting: 5/6. The acting varies, but Stewart, Jackman, McKellan, and Grammer give particularly strong performances. Series newcomer Ellen Page, the latest Kitty Pryde, also stands out. I’m hoping they give her a role in the planned Wolverine movie, since this film gestures toward that friendship from the comic’s 80s run.

Too often, the actors struggle against silly and clichéd dialogue. Stewart is forced to say, “I don’t have to justify myself… Least of all to you!” to Jackman. Halle Barry has a number of dull lines—- though nothing to match her response to the Toad in the first film. Expository “as you know, Bob” dialogue occurs. Josef Sommer’s President speaks almost entirely in clichés, but I suppose that’s not really a stretch.

Production: 5/6.

Emotional Response: 4/6.

Overall: 4/6. It was kind of nice, after three movies, to see all of the original X-Men on the screen.

In total, X-Men: The Last Stand receives 28/42

18 replies on “X-Men: The Last Stand”

  1. Jethro says:

    I enjoyed it.
    I have to say the Golden Gate Bridge thing was spectacular. I don’t think they could’ve done that convincingly a couple of years ago.

    I have to say, all the sticklers who want things to be exactly like the comic books are going to be very, very dissapointed.

    I agree than Jean didn’t get to do enough cool stuff. Other than, you know, demolecularize people with her mind

  2. Kaki says:

    The point…
    … of an X-Men movie is to see mutants doing stuff, most notably fighting other mutants. This movie does not disappoint on that most important regard. If it took itself a bit more seriously, it might have lost all it’s credit for doing the really important main point right. But it seems to have been appropriately ludicrous. Great job on the look and feel. And…kudos for killing off mutants left and right.

    Extra scene note: I guess we know the professor’s answer to the "empty body" ethics question. Or did he just phone in all his other "appearances"?

  3. fiziko says:

    My Low Point
    My low point is a big, if early, spoiler: I thought Cyclops got shafted in the first two movies. This time, they don’t even have the decency to kill him on screen! That could have been an amazing and heart-wrenching buildup and climax, letting the audience know what they were dealing with before Jean came back to the mansion. It would have felt a lot different to see her on that table if we’d known which Jean had returned.

    • Jethro says:

      Re: My Low Point
      Yeah, except now we don’t really know that Cyclops died, do we. Mark my words, if there’s ever another sequel…

  4. Eldhrin says:

    Anybody notice…
    …the setup for the next one?

  5. pelogrande says:

    Should’ve Dropped the Phoenix
    Personally, I think it would’ve been a hell of a lot better if they’d just dropped the Phoenix plot completely and saved it for a movie of its own. They just tried to shove it in and it simply didn’t fit.

    The most obvious apsect of this is how Jean has absolutely nothing to do for nearly the entire movie. According to Xavier, the Phoenix is supposed to be her primal, passionate side. Lust, rage, and all that stuff. Except she spends several very long sequences (not just the final fight, but all the crap in the woods) just standing around looking like a mannequin. It turned the whole Phoenix thing into a joke and took away from things more connected to the main plot that could’ve been more developed, like Angel and Mystique.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Should’ve Dropped the Phoenix
      Not only does the Phoenix have little to do for most of the movie, the fact that she finally acts at the end cheats the main plot. We really needed a coda for the Leech.

      And then there’s the general cheating of character development and interaction.

      Still, it has enjoyable action sequences. In the end, this movie works best if you don’t think too much about it.

      • y42 says:

        Re: Should’ve Dropped the Phoenix

        Still, it has enjoyable action sequences. In the end, this movie works best if you don’t think too much about it.

        That’s a pretty accurate review right there ;-)

        My own low point(s) is the sudden and inexplicable use of mutant levels. WTF is a level 3 mutant? Who’s ranking them?

  6. vanyel says:

    Best of the 3
    I agree with a lot of the comments above — it *could* have been a great movie if they’d done things a little differently, but not having read the comics and been contaminated by canon ;-) I thought it was really good anyhow. The most interesting thing about the series, I think, is that if Magneto were toned down just a little so he were more concerned about "collateral damage", I might even be on his side. Though I can understand Rogue‘s interest in the cure. I’d do it too in that case.

    For me, the low point was the obligatory "the odds are against us" speech just before they headed into the final battle. I thought that was the only part that was *badly* done (shouldn’t have even been written in the first place).

    And I wouldn’t mind a lot more of a shirtless Angel in X4 ;-) Although it’s a bit of a sledgehammer, I do think it was probably justified in using it, when Angel saves his father in a "aren’t you glad now I didn’t take the cure!?" moment.

  7. karchie says:

    What was Hank thinking?
    So I agree that this should have been two movies. I noticed that in the final battle it went from day to night awfully fast. And I also thought Scott deserved better and Jean spent too much time standing around staring.
    And how did porcupine boy become one of the elite?
    But, once my wife brought this up I’m kind of stuck on it,
    Why didn’t Hank get that kid (Leech) out of the research facility as soon as he knew what was going on? He and the Professor should have been outraged that a kid was being used as raw material for medical research
    Overall, I liked the movie. The two scenes at the Grey house were favorites. The second one highlighted how relationships had changed and was very tense.
    Simply spectacular action sequences. And this supports my general policy of staying through the credits.

  8. octa says:

    .
    Totally agree on Magneto’s helmet but look at Juggernaut – that was almost an insult. At some points I could see the fake rubber suit he was wearing crease…

    You ever read the comics as a kid and get a thought like "If I had those powers I would do things a whole lot better!"

    I felt the same way watching this movie. Seeing great mutants like Magneto do completely retarded things. I mean, if he can pull a bridge apart and float it across the bay why not just chuck the god damn thing at the whole facility? SPLAT, dead Leech in one fling.

    Also the end of the movie didn’t resolve anything about the cure. Leech was still alive, the military must have a surplus of the cure, and there was a good segment of the mutant population that wanted it. It makes the movie feel unfinished and pointless.

    Hate to say it but I hope they put the title to rest, they’re slowly approaching Superman 4 ridiculousness in both plot and effects. The Wolverine movie sounds promising though :)

  9. chad says:

    Magneto’s Helmet, etc.
    What I didn’t understand was, once Xavier was "dead", Magneto had no need to wear the helmet. So why did he wear it anyway?

    I thought they could have done a lot better exploring Jean’s dual personality. This is one of the great archetypes, the fight against good and evil within yourself. Just look at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I wish they hadn’t "cheated" and resolved it the way they did–I’d rather she learned to integrate the two halves of herself. Although I don’t know the comics well enough to say whether the movie kept in line with what happened in the comics. Can anyone give me feedback on this topic?

    As far as killing off or neutralizing so many of the older characters, I believe the movie-makers did this to set up the next movie with the next generation of X-Men.

    • GrimSean says:

      Re: Magneto’s Helmet, etc.

      What I didn’t understand was, once Xavier was "dead", Magneto had no need to wear the helmet. So why did he wear it anyway?

      I assumed it was because he was running around with Jean Grey and didn’t want her in his head either – or perhaps he realised that Xavier wasn’t really dead.

      I also found it hard to believe that the Government would let/allow Magneto run around as a free man simply because he lost his powers.

      Still, it was good – Kelsey Grammer really exceeded my expectations.

      • Grounded says:

        Re: Magneto’s Helmet, etc.
        30/42? I always thought the b42 team were pretty harsh critics!

        Personally, I found precious little to enjoy in this movie. The plot made no sense, the story was padded with unnecessary and poorly utilised new characters, existing characters were short changed on both screen time and development… The best moment was Wolverine lighting his cigar at the start then it all went downhill from there!

        20/42 at best.

        • vanyel says:

          Re: Magneto’s Helmet, etc.

          The plot made no sense

          ??? Clearly not part of a group that a large part of the world thinks needs "curing".

          While they didn’t go into it as deeply as they might have, and the plot devices are a bit absurd, one doesn’t really expect them to anything different in a comic book action movie.

          The fundamental elements of the plot (of all three X-men movies, actually) investigate the theme question "how far do you go to respond to oppression". Those elements been played out in real life similarly over and over and over. Most recently, the Black Panthers in the 60’s and Act Up in the 80’s, and in fact even the Islamic terrorist activity of today, I think can be argued stems from past oppression.

          And I’d be really surprised if some of the things all three of those groups (and any similar ones) have done, didn’t make as little sense as some of the plot details in this movie.

          • Grounded says:

            Re: Magneto’s Helmet, etc.

            The plot made no sense

            While they didn’t go into it as deeply as they might have, and the plot devices are a bit absurd, one doesn’t really expect them to anything different in a comic book action movie.

            Well one really should expect more. X1 and 2 weren’t exactly treatises on oppression, but they still managed to explore it a hell of a lot better than the third movie. (And they managed to do it with better dialogue, better acting, better characterisation…)

    • karchie says:

      Re: Magneto’s Helmet, etc.


      This is one of the great archetypes, the fight against good and evil within yourself. Just look at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I wish they hadn’t "cheated" and resolved it the way they did–I’d rather she learned to integrate the two halves of herself. Although I don’t know the comics well enough to say whether the movie kept in line with what happened in the comics. Can anyone give me feedback on this topic?

      Depends on which version of the story. In the original published version Jean regains control but is attacked by a galactic police force (the Shi’har actually) because (as Dark Phoenix) she casually destroyed all the life on an entire planet by eating its star. During the fight, she felt herself losing control again and killed herself
      Or the (mostly) unpublished one where she was fixed by the police and released, but later has to overcome her dark side by force of will.
      Note that this story line appeared almost 30 years ago when there was but one X-Men comic.
      Since then there have been endless re-writes, retcons and alternate universes and timeline spread over 4-5 comics, so I no longer have any idea who or what Jean/Phoenix is.
      Except that as far as I am concerned, she died long ago and is still dead.
      The Dark Phoenix saga is IMHO, one of the best comics stories ever.

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