'X-Men: The Last Stand' *** 071806
Movie Review (2006)

The Work = ***
'X-Men: The Last Stand' is an enjoyable enough entry in the 'X-Men' movie franchise. It is more or less on par with the first film but not as good as the second. The filmmakers are smart: they keep 'X-Men: The Last Stand' moving along and don’t run on too long. The movie clocks in under 2 hours and I was thankful it didn’t make the mistake that 'Mission Impossible: III' and 'The Da Vinci Code' and overstay its welcome.

Brett Ratner directed 'X-Men: The Last Stand' and he is one of those directors who sometimes gets my ire simply because he is a Hollywood go to guy. Maybe it is that Ratner is so darn successful at making forgettable studio flics that do gangbusters at the box office. The thing is though, he has never really made a bad movie. He’s come close to making a great film with 'Red Dragon' but it was (amongst other things) done in by a miscast Edward Norton who dragged the film down with him.

Here Ratner, fills in for previous 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer who has skipped out to direct 'Superman'. Actually Ratner came to the project at the last second after the first replacement for Singer, Matthew Vaughn (director of 'Layer Cake') jumped ship on the studio. Ratner does a commendable job of managing all the characters and keeping them framed in a story that does manage to be about something.

I suppose I should mention that fans of the comic may not like some of the events of the film. The movie definitely paves its own way and there are changes of character and events that will no doubt surprise many. The plot, such as it is, deals with a cure for the mutant gene. Naturally, many mutants don’t feel they are in need of “a cure” and believe this is actually a step towards eradication.

Ratner gives everyone their screen time but in the rush of production and bevy of numerous stars there are some casualties. Nightcrawler is sadly not present in this film at all. Cyclops is in the film but not very much and while I can’t say I was a huge fan of the character I have to admit it seemed like he got ripped off in the screen time department. Storm gets some more screen time and Beast makes an appearance. I have to say that the new characters that make appearances in the film like the before mentioned Beast and the winged Angel (aka: Archangel) don’t get much screen time or development.

I can’t complain too much because Ratner keeps things moving along. Some characters come off underdeveloped while others get screen time but don’t have a heck of a lot to do (like Storm.) Still, everything gets crow barred into a story that does work. As a film it falls somewhere between the previous 'X-Men' pictures: about as enjoyable as the first not quite as good as the second film.

The plot also involves an entity known as the Phoenix, it is perhaps about as convincing as it was in the comics but it is quite different. I remember when the Phoenix Rising comics were out and I was not a big fan of the story line but I have to admit I have a pretty foggy memory of it. I guess I followed what was happening in the film but I’m not sure I totally understood why (and not that it has anything to do with anything but didn’t it turn to night rather quickly when the mutants crossed the bridge?) Still the movie moves along at a fast rate and offers up enough surprises that I didn’t have too much time to think about it. (FYI: you may want to stay until the end of the credits.)

All in all, this was an enjoyable film that more or less works as an 'X-Men' sequel. While it is a shame that that it is not as strong as the second film and it does short change some of the characters I can’t fault Ratner and crew for not giving it their best shot. Hell, if nothing else this film has a bevy of actors that can read a recipe of mustard and make it sound important (IE: Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.) Of the big budget Hollywood films I have been seeing this year this is one of the better ones. Recommend.


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