X-Men: The Last Stand


Reviewed by: Iain Macleod

X-Men: The Last Stand
"The film moves at such a furious pace, it is hard to hold a grudge against it." | Photo: Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved

Things were looking a bit shaky there for the series when the original director Bryan Singer jumped ship with X2's writers, after a bout of developmental hell, and decided to take on the Distinguished Competition's (plain old DC Comics, if you don't speak geek) own flagship character Superman in this summer's other superhero multiplex filler. After weeks of feverish online anticipation, hopes were dashed when it was announced that Brett Ratner would be in charge of the creative duties this time around and not, as hoped, genre friendly visionaries, such as Joss Whedon, or Alex Proyas.

So it comes as a bit of a relief to see that Ratner has not flinched after all the online shots that have been fired his way and delivered a perfectly average action picture that caters equally to the geeks with their mylar encased X-collections and to the droves of summer blockbuster hungry cinemagoers. There are some moments in the film which will delight both crowds, but it is hard not to feel that there is a sense of rushing through everything, on both sides of the camera, to make the promise of that subtitle stick.

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Last Stand? Why now?

I liked how seeds for future sequels were planted through the first film. And how they grew in the second, while more were planted that could have shown in a third, fourth or fifth X-feature. With some characters getting more of the spotlight than others, there was definitely room for improvement on that side. So why end it all now when it looked like things were really going to kick up a gear?

As mentioned earlier, Ratner acquits himself well in the director's chair, especially when he does not have much of a script to work with - it is more like a checklist of scenes, with characters and incidents, to appease the fanboy base.

Danger Room? Check.

Sentinels? Check.

Colossus and Wolverine's fastball special? Check.

Which is all very well, but around all this is some very dodgy daytime soap opera dialogue and a casual disregard for characterisation. Established characters are killed off, or ignored for most of the time, and no one seems to be too bothered, because the next scene has to be dealt with, or there is a host of new mutants to show off.

Of these, Beast is the most successful. Kelsey Grammer seems more than comfortable in the blue fur, fangs and specs. At first glance he looks a little silly but gives, along with Ian McKellen, one of the film's best performances. The other newcomers are frankly crap. Magneto's crew, the so-called Brotherhood, have tattoos so you know they are all about keeping it real and are not afraid to show homo sapiens (us) what real power is all about. But when these powers consist of one person moving short distances really, really fast and some other dude looking like a human porcupine at will, you still want to stick with the whiny X-Men. At least, they have a cool jet that turns invisible and their own snazzy uniforms. And Vinny Jones is pretty funny, but you are not laughing with him, you are laughing at him.

The two main storylines, the Dark Phoenix and cure for mutation, could have worked well as instalments on their own. But because the film moves at such a furious pace, it is hard to hold a grudge against it, while it flickers past your eyes. It is not the best superhero film ever made, but it is far from the worst.

And, by the way, stick around for the scene after the end credits. It makes the film less of a last stand, as the hype would have you believe.

Reviewed on: 25 May 2006
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X-Men: The Last Stand packshot
The mutants battle over a manmade 'cure' for their condition.
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Read more X-Men: The Last Stand reviews:

Chris Brooks ****1/2
John Gallagher ****1/2
Chris ****1/2
Leanne McGrath ***1/2
Jennie Kermode ***

Director: Brett Ratner

Writer: Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones

Year: 2006

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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X-Men 2
X-Men Origins: Wolverine