X-Men: The Last Stand
directed by Brett Ratner
starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Kelsey Grammer and oh so many others
X-Men: The Last Stand (or should you prefer, X3) has been long dreaded ever since it was known Bryan Singer, who directed the first two films of the franchise, had left the project in favor of the upcoming Superman film. Since then we’ve seen multiple director changes, worries and leaks about the script, as well as concern and gripes that certain characters would be getting too much screen time (Halle Berry as Storm, who had threatened for more time or she’d walk) or none at all (the continuing lack of fan fave Gambit as well as Alan Cumming’s choice not to return as the equally popular Nightcrawler). I haven’t seen a film become the subject of such nerd rage in some time, and this is saying a lot considering the negative reaction to Hulk, Fantastic Four, Elektra and other superhero films. Having now seen X3, I don’t think I’ve ever been more annoyed with the nerd community. While X3 to me may not fully live up to its potential, it is certainly not the disaster which was predicted. In fact, I’d put it on par with the other X-Men films – in some ways it is better, in other ways it is not.
The story of X3 is no more or less stronger than the first two films. Once again the mutant community is in danger, this time by a “cure” for mutants – attractive for some whose powers are a burden, a threat to others, such as Magneto, who view it as an act of war, especially after it is found the government has developed ‘cure guns’ which can be used against mutants. This plot point isn’t really whats driving the fanboys nuts though – more or less it’s the actions of both heroes and villains they don’t agree with, as well as the killing off of a few key characters most everyone is attached too – and we all know – shocking moments, especially ones involving beloved characters – do not rub people the right way at all, leaving many to react angrily before thinking objectively about how it fits into the film.
It is this that maybe pushes me to defend X3 more than I might have had I not known in advance some of the major spoilers which were leaked in advance. It is important for people to judge a film by its own merits, not by what did or did not happen in the comics 30, 20 or 2 years ago. Do the characters act and react in the ways they have been developed two over the past two films? In my opinion, yes. Is it sad to see certain characters die or be “cured” – somewhat, however in my opinion these decisions work within the story, and if you manage to stay after the credits, some of these supposedly disastrous decisions are open enough that the fans can sit tight knowing maybe things are not as bad as they seem for their heroes.
Getting away from the angry mob’s reaction, I can best characterize the film in one word: action. While the first two films were balanced more towards mutant issues with occasional action, X3 has it in droves, and since there are more new characters introduced into the series, the talky scenes dont seem to be repetitive of the themes explored in the first two films. The standout action sequence of course is the films “Last Stand” scene itself, where each mutant gets to have its time to show off their powers in an aggressive and tactical manner, rather than the somewhat restrained “show offy” approach employed by X-Men 1 and 2. In X3 the one-liners continue to pop up – some groaners, some clever, and one in particular references an underground internet video, a possibly shocking moment for Internet addicts who’ll watch the movie.
If there is one major flaw with the film it is its running time. At around 100 minutes, it’s not exactly enough time to really flesh out the story arcs of so many characters. Considering the action driven story that’s not the worst thing in the world, however it does leave you wanting a little more. I for one in this case would actually encourage the oh-so-trendy Extended Version treatment when it hits DVD.
So if you’re a fan of the X-Men films but not necessarily a comic fanboy, I think you’ll be more pleased with X3 than those who have wasted wayyyyy too much time analyzing its potential in advance of seeing it, and certainly more than the vocal minority who decided they hated it before they saw it. Just please, judge it on its own merits. – Goon
Recommended If You Like: X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman, Hulk