Tuesday, November 6, 2012

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - Surprisingly Good

X-Men the last stand poster
"X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006).

First off, I am probably one of the few people commenting about this Fox movie directed by Brett Ratner who has never seen - at least in their entireties - either of the first two films or, for that matter, read the comic books. This was a new experience for me, and the result was that I had a rocking good time watching X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)! Director Brett Ratner knows how to do action films, and he pulls this one off marvelously. The standouts for me were Hugh Jackman as the raffish leader of the "good guy" mutants, and Ian McKellen as the droll leader of the bad guys. Patrick Stewart puts in a terrific performance as a sort of Obi Wan Kenobi figure, and Kelsey Grammer shows up in a quite effective role as a politician with principles (yes, this is comic book stuff). Rebecca Romijn is quite cute in her barely-there costume, and Vinnie Jones plays a tough guy quite convincingly.

Rebecca Romijn as Mystique in X-Men: The Last Stand
Rebecca Romijn in "X-Men: The Last Stand."

The music by John Powell is fine, but the writing is what makes the film. There is real emotion that you don't see in many sequels, much less a second sequel in a comic-book franchise. When key characters bite the dust one way or another - by exploding, or losing their mutant powers (apparently the same thing as dieing), or trying to reunite with the wrong ex-girlfriend - it really is quite moving. That separates this from the vast majority of pedestrian movies in the same category (*cough* "Spiderman 2" *cough*).

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand
Hugh Jackman rules in "X-Men: The Last Stand."

At heart, though, this movie is still a cartoon, and indeed it revels in that fact. The story is about a vaccine to "cure" mutants of their special nature. Of course, some of them don't want to be "cured," so a fight breaks out. When the bad guys decide they need a convenient way across San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz Island, well, let's just say they think big. The physical stunts don't go too over the top - they keep the "appearing to defy gravity via guys pulling the actors around with strings like puppets" moves to a minimum, thank goodness - and the plot kind of makes sense in a cartoon-universe good-vs.-evil kind of way.

Halle Berry as Storm in X-Men: The Last Stand
It's unclear why Halle Berry is even in "X-Men: The Last Stand," as she is given very little to do.

OK, so this isn't Shakespeare, and it isn't "The Godfather" or "Gone With the Wind," either. Some of the characters are drawn too quickly, without enough distinction, and look too similar - is that the guy with the hidden wings, or the guy who can send fire out of his fingertips? - and some things don't make much sense. I could have done without the useless Halle Berry character, though I'm sure she has something to do in the comic books. But you don't go to a film like this expecting "King Lear." You go for the conflict and the costumes and the hammy acting, and this film delivers.

all the characters of X-Men: The Last Stand
Our Cast of mutant superheroes in "X-Men: The Last Stand." 

This definitely is one of the best superhero films I have seen and it makes for a great summer afternoon. Oh, and stay through the entire credits, if you enjoyed the film you will be glad you did.


1 comment:

  1. I hope this movie was smartly made. Arnold is too old to rely on his presence anymore. I am glad to read the review which reflects movie’s correct way to use Arnold and made it entertaining. I can’t wait to see it now.