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Published: 2006-05-29 - 22:41:00
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X-Men: The Last Stand (XMen 3) Review

By Joe Lozito

Low "X"-pectations

xmen3.jpg

As good as X-Men and X2: X-Men United were, they weren't all that good. The films, with their panoply of mutants and top-of-the-line special effects, barely held together under the weight of their own expectations. After watching the third installment, "X-Men: The Last Stand", it's clear that any cohesion within the first two films can attributed to director Bryan Singer. Taking over at the helm for this third go-around is director Brett Ratner - best known for his workmanly job with the "Rush Hour" franchise. After taking on "Red Dragon" in 2002, Mr. Ratner is given the equally unenviable task of picking up the reigns where Mr. Singer left off. The results are less than x-citing.

Mr. Ratner can't be totally at fault though. The screenplay is credited to Zak Penn from "X2" and Simon Kinberg from the equally jumpy "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and the similarly-titled "xXx: State of the Union". While I respect the job they did keeping their many mutated characters together, the script is merely an excuse for some budget-heavy (and at times preposterous) setpieces. The most over-the-top is easily Magneto's re-locating of the Golden Gate Bridge as part of the most illogical assault on Alcatraz ever mounted.

That is more or less the problem with "X3", if I may call it that. It's just not well thought-out. The characters are still there, but they don't do anything you haven't seen in the previous two films. Halle Berry is still weak as storm. Patrick Stewart is still perfectly-cast (though underused) as Professor Charles Xavier. Ian McKellen does what Ian McKellen does as the evil Magneto. And as much as I'd like to see a Wolverine franchise, Hugh Jackman has yet to show more range in the role than he did in, oh, a little movie called "Van Helsing".

The rest of the crew - Rebecca Romijn's scaly Mystique, James Marsden's Cyclops, Shawn Ashmore's Iceman - hang on for their few moments in the sun and the newcomers - Kelsey Grammer as the furry Beast, Ben Foster as the winged Angel, Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde - hold their own. But the plot, which involves a would-be "cure" for the mutant gene, doesn't go anywhere. While the idea of the government attempting to force a cure on a subsection of society has some potential, the script never takes the time to explore it, favoring sloppy action sequences like the aforementioned Golden Gate Bridge fiasco.

"X-Men: The Last Stand" isn't a bad movie, and it's certainly not the "Last" we'll see of the "X-Men". The problem with it is that it lacks direction (both figuratively and literally). We'll certainly see more of our mutant friends in the coming years. Let's hope, in the future, they take a step in the right direction.

What did you think?

Movie title X-Men: The Last Stand
Release year 2006
MPAA Rating PG-13
Our rating
Summary Messy sequel, lacks direction both literally (with the loss of Bryan Singer at the helm) and figuratively.
View all articles by Joe Lozito
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