published on Wednesday, June 7, 2006 at 07:19:08|
The X-Men franchise comes to an inconclusive end with X-Men: The Last Stand. There is a title full of finality, and quite a few deaths to bring the point home. Yet, there are spin-offs planned, and franchises that generate this much money never seem to end, especially if the payout is tempting enough. The Last Stand is the worst of the three X-Men movies, probably due to the addition of director Brett Ratner (After the Sunset, Red Dragon). Bryan Singer is off to direct Superman Returns for Warner Bros/DC, which puts him a bit at odds with directing the last installment from a rival comic book company. Ratner takes the same characters, ups the action, and removes the subtext of alienation that made them resonate so well with audiences.
Instead of love stories and character development, Ratner and writers Zak Penn (Elektra, Suspect Zero) and Simon Kinberg (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, xXx: The State of the Union) add explosions. And fight scenes. And more explosions. And more fight scenes. Explosions in fight scenes, and fight scenes with explosions. The Last Stand is a hyperactive summer action movie that rarely lets up for any amount of time. While this does keep the pacing extremely quick, it also hides the fact that the story is a bit on the deficient side. The plot is not very compelling, and many of the characters do not seem that interesting. They feel like secondary characters elevated to primary level, only because there are fewer primary ones.
Ratner puts the focus on Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, Hide and Seek, Eulogy), who somehow returned from the dead and now wields a strong power that both Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart, Chicken Little, X2) and Magneto (Ian McKellan, The DaVinci Code, Doogal) vie to sway her to join their side. The United States government has invented an injectable "cure" that changes mutants back to ordinary people. Magneto finds this morally repugnant and vows to create a brotherhood intent on taking over the world. Meanwhile, the research facility that invented this cure his holding a boy named Leech (Cameron Bright, Ultraviolet, Running Scared). The concept of a cure for the mutant gene is politically charged and turns humans against mutants. One on side is Magneto, who is using this opportunity to show that mutants are the dominant species. Xavier wants to prove that humans and mutants can co-exist, and Grey and her power hangs in the balance.
With all this political energy flying around, Ratner throws in too many characters and gives them too little time to establish themselves. Yes, they had small roles in the prior films, but most people (i.e. non-fans of the comic or various animated series) will be able to name them. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, Van Helsing, X2) and Storm (Halle Berry, Robots, Catwoman) are back, this time joined by Beast (Kelsey Grammer, Teacher's Pet, Just Visiting). Of the other characters, very few resonate. Everything turns into one big spectacle, as Ratner piles on the special effects and cheesy dialogue. It looks great watching dozens of people fighting at the same time, but with no solid story to support the scenes, it becomes too repetitive.
Haro Rates It: Okay.