by Matt Paprocki, published on October 5, 2006|
Supposedly the final piece to the X-Men series, this lively, energetic, and fun cap to the trilogy is a worthy send off to this fantastic comic book based series. While a director change early on caused some controversy, Rush Hour director Brett Ratner does a fantastic job with the material. If anything, there's not enough here.
The film's problem is the lack of character development or even introduction. While Colossus was teased in the previous two installments, he's used extensively here in battle sequences. There's no introduction to the character, his background, or why he's suddenly so involved. This happens with multiple mutants, and unless you're a die-hard supporter of the comics, a lot of these introductions feel abrupt.
Wisely the movie stays on Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as it did previously. Storm (Halle Berry) is given an expanded role more in sync with her part in the comics. This, of course, leads to some epic fight sequences, providing memorable and what will undoubtedly become classic images. Ian McKellen, flawlessly cast as Magneto, takes the Golden Gate Bridge and literally moves it off its base to suit his needs. It's unforgettable.
The story creates a plausible scenario given the fantasy setting revolving around a "cure" for mutants. Protests and debates ensue, creating a solid reason for the conflicts to follow. Magneto is almost a sympathetic character, an odd spot for the lead villain. He firmly believes he's in the right, though when he's killing hundreds, it's hard to buy into that angle.
As a third film, The Last Stand rapidly brings the audience to the present in finely spun flashbacks and dialogue. It's enough to grasp the basics to follow the rest of the film. Neither of the writers worked on the first film in the series, and for Simon Kinberg, this was his first. It gives the film a different dialogue feel, especially in the realm of comedy. A line spoken by Juggernaut during the final struggle is simply priceless.
The closing is also worth mentioning, providing a nice "what if" scenario should the series continue. It's also worth noting that it's not over until after the credits scroll. You'll miss a key point if you don't keep watching.
As a send off, The Last Stand pulls together all loose ends to a satisfactory level. Fans can continue to wonder where their favorite characters are (especially Gambit), while the more casual fans can sit back and enjoy a solid piece of action filmmaking. Brett Ratner handled his last minute addition to the director's chair wonderfully.
Things start off rough for this DVD edition of the film. Contrast levels are initially blinding, but things quickly take a turn for the better. Clarity, detail, and sharpness are stunning. There are trouble spots where the compression artifacts show through rather obviously, while the spot-on black levels hide them the rest of the way through.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Presented in either Dolby 5.1 EX or a flawless DTS 6.1 track, this is a disc that sets a new standard for positional audio. The sound brings this movie to life, and the opening action sequence is one audiophiles will bookmark. While the action sequences are the highlight with their powerful bass levels, it's foolish to discredit the ambient work elsewhere. There is hardly a moment where each speaker isn't producing some form of audio.
Rating: 5 out of 5
When the disc initially loads, you're given two options. You can either pick good or evil, though the purpose is unknown. There are two extra trailers on the good side. The menus, chapter selections and features are exactly the same. In the end, all it does is make the transition from putting the disc in to watching the film take longer.
Aside from that, 24 separate deleted scenes run about 20-minutes total. There's an optional commentary track on each, though Ratner and some of his crew are loose with the information on these cuts. One of the few interesting notes is a scene where Beast snaps a foe's neck. It's less than a second, yet they felt the film would have earned an R rating with it included.
Also tossed into that batch are three separate endings. One involving Wolverine takes the series back to its beginnings, while another puts Beast in a more sensible post-war scenario. The third changes a character's fate with only minor impact.
The option menu for "World of Marvel" is nothing more than a fancy way of saying "trailers." The final two additional features are commentaries, one from Ratner and his writers, the other from three producers. While they offer some extra information, Ratner is more concerned with enjoying himself than providing any details.
Rating: 3 out of 5
A single disc edition is standard at retailers, while special editions are store specific. Target is offering a sharp tin case with an original Stan Lee comic. Best Buy offers the same comic, but with far less flair. The cheap plastic case and fold out insert isn't worth double the asking price of the regular disc.