Sunday, May 28, 2006

Movie Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

U.S. Release Date: 5/26/06
Running Time: 1:44
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, language, some sexual content)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Aaron Stanford, Cameron Bright, Vinnie Jones, Ben Foster, Ellen Page, Josef Sommer

Director: Brett Ratner
Producer: Kevin Feige, Stan Lee, John Palermo
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn
Music: John Powell
Studio: 20th Century Fox

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The third installment of the X-Men series is honorable, yet middling. When the film needs to be, it is heavy on action. Simultaneously, it is unnecessarily superfluous on storyline; too much time is allotted to debating the cure and exterminating key players, and not enough time is devoted to delving into each character’s backdrop. While X2 overshadowed the original, The Last Stand seems to be a sign (in both title and content) that the series is sputtering out.

Human scientists have discovered a breakthrough means to free the members of the mutant race, by suppressing their mutant genes. This then presents an ethical dilemma—therein, is the suppression a “cure,” or simply a way of eliminating the different? Both the X-Men and those who fall in line under the command of Magneto (Ian McKellen) consider the “cure” to be a threat to their powers and their individuality. Thus, a war is waged between the anti-cure activist mutants and humankind. Likewise, a battle of epic proportions begins between good and evil.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to depict the “Dark Phoenix” storyline, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) is resurrected only to change hands and use her unparalleled powers to side with Magneto. In an attempt to save her from harm, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), and Beast (Kelsey Grammer) lead the charge to save the day and search for a glimmer of the old Dr. Jean Grey within the Phoenix.

Unlike in X-Men and X2: X-Men United, this time Wolverine isn’t the standout center of attention, and oddly enough, Rogue (Anna Paquin) gets less screen time than the seemingly-inconsequential characters like Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), and Angel (Warren Worthington III). Then again, with such a cumbersome star-studded cast, it is pretty difficult to divvy up the screen time equally. In fact, out of all the X-Men, it is Storm who seems to get the most face time. Berry’s portrayal of Storm is undoubtedly her best take on the character; her powers, personality, and emotions all surface like never before.

Overall, X-Men: The Last Stand is a pure popcorn flick that will keep comic-book fans satisfied. At the same time, the film feels unwisely all-inclusive and a tad too hurried in nature. Nonetheless, the highly-anticipated third chapter in the X-Men saga is a standard summer blockbuster—big on fun, action, and entertainment. Fans can only hope for X4 to soon follow—especially considering what is revealed after the credits roll. (**1/2 out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006