X-Men: The Last Stand Review

X-Men: The Last Stand movie posterSynopsis
When a “cure” for the mutant gene is developed, the mutant population must decide their fate. Meanwhile, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) is becoming more powerful and Magneto (Ian McKellen) hopes to use her powers in the fight against the humans and their cure. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his X-Men must stop Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants before they create an all out war between the humans and the mutants.

Review
It was bound to happen. After the success of the first two X-Men movies, the studio couldn’t help themselves and stepped in and meddled in the story and development of X-Men: The Last Stand. It’s certainly not the first time it has happened in Hollywood and it was far from the last, even in the X-Men franchise. It’s hard to say how X-Men: The Last Stand would have turned out without Fox’s interference but it couldn’t have been worse than what was created in the end.

As with many sequels, this film tries to do too much. Writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn set out to tell the story of “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, written by Chris Claremont and one of the most beloved storylines in X-Men comics history. Anyone familiar with the source material will tell you how emotional and grandiose that story is. This movie doesn’t even begin to capture the impactfulness of the comic. This particular story for some reason becomes the B-plot of the film. How can such an iconic story be regulated to the background? That’s just criminal.

One of the strengths of using the X-Men, and more largely, mutants, is it offers many opportunities to tell philosophical stories while still being exciting. X2: X-Men United did this beautifully. The mutant cure plot, based on Joss Whedon’s “Gifted” storyline, was a perfect chance to do the same thing with different themes. However, this is not fully explored because this movie had to balance so many other aspects. Plus it introduces a ton of new characters, not unexpected given the X-Men universe’s large roster of characters. Combine this with the Gifted and Dark Phoenix Saga plots, and you just have a mess. There is just so much going on that it becomes extremely clustered and nothing gets the attention or development it deserves.

This paragraph contains spoilers. Besides introducing a plethora of the characters, it also kills off several main characters. First up is Cyclops (James Marsden). Given Marsden’s availability due to his casting in Superman Returns (the film Bryan Singer declined directing this film to direct instead), he was killed off early and, more tragically, off screen. A fan favorite character such as that does not deserve the kind of end this movie gave him. Besides Cyclops, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) also bit the dust (literally). I am still upset about Professor X being killed off. However, the reason for his death actually serves a good story purpose and has an emotional impact, so I’m not bothered by it as much.

Many blockbusters try to maximize their run time and don’t fully grasp when it becomes too much. As a result, they end up becoming too long. X-Men: The Last Stand doesn’t have that problem; it actually has a relatively moderate run time. However, this is one of the few cases where I wish the film would have been longer. As I said before, it tried to cram two stories worthy of their own films and include many new characters, and yet, among all that, ended up focusing largely on the action. If this film wanted to incorporate as much as it did, it needed more time to flesh everything out more. I appreciate the writers and directors not wanted this movie to overstay its welcome but that conservative attitude ended up hurting the film more than helping it.

I thought X-Men: The Last Stand was OK 😐 Like many sequels, it attempts to fill its runtime as much as possible. As a result, it halfheartedly tells two stories rather than tell one great story. In what would become a trend in many successful superhero franchises, studio interference created a rushed and sub-par movie that failed to keep the momentum set by its predecessors.

Trivia
Budgeted at $210 million, this was, at the time, the most expensive movie ever made. (Via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Brett Ratner – Director
Simon Kinberg – Writer
Zak Penn – Writer
John Powell – Composer

Hugh Jackman – Logan / Wolverine
Patrick Steward – Charles Xavier / Professor X
Halle Barry – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Famke Janssen – Jean Grey / Phoenix
Anna Paquin – Marie / Rogue
Shawn Ashmore – Bobby Drake / Iceman
Ellen Page – Kitty Pryde / Shadowcat
Daniel Cudmore – Peter Rasputin / Colossus
Kelsey Grammer – Dr. Henry ‘Hank’ McCoy / Beast
James Marsden – Scott Summers / Cyclops
Ben Foster – Warren Worthington III / Angel
Ian McKellen – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Rebecca Romijn – Raven Darkholme / Mystique
Aaron Stanford – John Allerdyce / Pyro
Vinnie Jones – Cain Marko / Juggernaugt
Dania Ramirez – Callisto
Eric Dane – Multiple Man
Michael Murphy – Warren Worthington II
Josef Sommer – The President
Bill Duke – Trask
Shohreh Aghdashloo – Dr. Kavita Rao
Cameron Bright – Jimmy / Leech