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» Film Critics United Review - X-Men: The Last Stand

by Christopher Armstead, published on Thursday, June 1, 2006 21:53:14

Right off the bat, let’s just say that is a very entertaining, popcorn consuming, 48 ounce pop gulping, sugar baby devouring big time, big budget summer picture. There was action galore, drama, intrigue, cheesecake in the form of Halle and Framke, and beefcake with Hugh and Ben Foster as Angel who enjoys flying over San Francisco with his shirt off (read what you will into that). It has classically trained actors in Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart who I’m certain mused off set of the good old days of doing ‘Richard III’ back in Chadwick to an audience of three, only to realize they were also starving and homeless back then. This one packed as much as it possibly could in it’s relatively short 104 minute running time, and this may be this films ultimate failing in that, though entertaining, it ends up being jumbled and lacking focus.

A new mutant has surfaced (professional spooky kid Cameron Bright) with the power to remove the abilities of other mutants who come into close contact with him. Billionaire industrialist Warren Worthington II, the father of Warren Worthington III, better known as ‘The Angel’ has synthesized the childs antigens and created a mutant ‘cure’ for those who choose it. Some are overjoyed about it such Rogue (Anna Paquin) who could finally get down with her boyfriend Bobby the Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) without killing him, while others, such as Storm are insulted as one would have to be ‘sick’ to need a ‘cure’, and they don’t see themselves as ill in any way shape or form. Still others, such as Magneto, see it as the inevitable first step in the complete eradication of the mutant species.

Toss into this, the return of the once lost Jean Grey. As a young girl, Professor X quartered off part of Jean’s mind to govern her incredible power. The active part of her mind was Jean Grey, the dormant part became a guttural, hedonistic, power hungry entity know as Dark Phoenix. Jean is pretty much gone, Dark Phoenix has taken over and she is pretty much pissed at everything and everybody. She’s also a level 5 mutant (I am unfamiliar with the classing of mutant power), which places her abilities a step below those of God. To put this in perspective, we learned from X2 that Professor X has the power to kill every single person on the planet just by thinking real hard, and Dark Phoenix has way more power than he does.

Eventually it all boils down to one big showdown on the island of Alcatraz, birthplace of the ‘cure’, between the Magneto and his thousand strong throng of rebellious mutants, countless numbers of government soldiers, Dark Phoenix and the surviving X-men for control of… Well, I’m not really quite sure. The boy, I guess.

If you’re a fan of the X-Men comic, just let it go. All three films, at best, bear a passing resemblance to the comic. ‘Rush Hour’ director Brett Ratner, an admitted comic junkie, who took over for previous director Bryan Singer, who by is own admission never read the comic much, may have found his fandom of the comic more a liability than positive. It appears as if he tried to squeeze in so many mutants, so many elements, so many references from the X-men universe in as little time as possible that it ultimately lacked any kind of cohesion. It’s cool to see Juggernaut (The professor’s step brother in the comic by the way) and the Sentinels and Callisto and Moira MacTaggert et. al., but they truly add little to the story other than the fact it’s cool to see them. Other characters are introduced for no other reason other than at some point in the plot they will be needed to do something and are then summarily discarded. Then there are mutants everywhere. thousands and thousands, probably millions. Which eliminates the uniqueness of being a mutant completely, which, to me, makes our X-Men far less ‘special’ than they were before.

There are other structure problems and plot holes which I had problems with, but to avoid ‘spoiler’ territory we’ll leave those concerns to the message boards. With all of that aside, Hugh Jackman is one hell of a Wolverine, and whoever thought it was a good idea to cast ‘Frasier’ (Kelsey Grammer) as ‘The Beast’… give that man a raise ‘cause he was fantastic. The special effects were flawless, the sound shook the theater, the story moved at a brisk pace and there was more death and mayhem than you could ever expect, though I SERIOUSLY question the wisdom in the demise of a few of the major characters.

So what can I tell you? The movie is uneven, jumbled, disconnected and has no heart. BUT, a roller coaster ride is similar to that as well, and they’re a lot of fun, aren’t they? I can’t help but recommend the movie because it’s a good time at the show, it just seems that this, and series in general, could have been a lot more.

Source: filmcriticsunited.com

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