So, it’s time to finish off the X-Men series with X-Men: The Last Stand– a film which does nothing to shake off the superhero threequel curse.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
X-Men: The Last Stand held the record up until recently of the only X-Men related film I’d seen in the cinemas. I remember walking out of there with not so much of a grin on my face, but more disappointment and a hint of depression. I had the feeling that the franchise was dead and not only that but it had gone out with a rather meek “phut” rather than a triumphant bang.
The film centres around U.S. business Worthington Industries when it discovers a cure for mutation. This scientific breakthrough complicates and intensifies the battle — both physical and ideological — between Professor X’s (Patrick Stewart) integration-friendly X-Men and the human-hating mutants led by Magneto (Ian McKellen). I have no problem with the actual plot. After the slow-burning first film and the considerably more epic second one, this seemed to be where they were headed- a face-off between Magneto’s Brotherhood and the X-Men. However, the proverbial tits went up when Singer left to direct Superman Returns and they hired Brett Ratner, who is a direct-by-numbers kinda guy who lacks the character driven focus that Singer brought to the series. This is a huge misstep as The Last Stand features more mutants than ever and it needed someone like Singer to keep everything in check. As it stands, there is no real development for the main group. Wolverine is downgraded to a gruff punchline and Cyclops barely features at all.
Believe it or not, the Storm issue (see my X2 review) gets worse. Now it’s suddenly been decided that Storm is the emotional heart of the film, with ample oppurtunity for Berry to show off those Oscar-winning mournful looks and silent tears. Pretty rich for a character who has been to Pauline Fowler‘s local hairdresser. Ororo Munroe related gripes aside, there is one other character that irritated me throughout. I’ll give you a couple of clues- he’s blue, he’s furry and his name rhymes with “Yeast”. Yup, seems like someone thought it was a good idea to dip Frasier Crane in a bucket of blue paint, coat him in dog hair and kick him out onto the set, telling him not to embarrass himself. Don’t get me wrong, I think the casting of Grammer was spot-on, but why oh why did they not make the character CGI and keep Grammer’s dulcet tones? Every time Beast is on screen, he looks awkward, probably due to the immense padding and silly make up. I don’t often call for a computer-generated character to replace a physical one, but by Christ does it need to happen here. It’s a shame, as Grammer’s performance is great, it’s just hard to ignore all the blue make-up and padding issues.
The one thing that I really liked was a small moment after (Invisotexted to avoid spoilers) Mystique gets injected with the cure. I love the way Magneto looks down on her with contempt and coldly declares she’s not “one of them any more”. It’s a brief glimpse of actual characterisation and I was left wanting more. I felt the Rogue sub (sob?) story about her choice between her powers and her boyfriend was poorly handled too. I wanted to feel sorry for her, but I couldn’t. I just didn’t care, which shouldn’t be the case in an X-Men film.
When it comes down to it, X-Men: The Last Stand just doesn’t have the heart and intelligence that the first two did. It’s very impressive in terms of special effects (the Golden Gate Bridge sequence is admittedly very cool), but in the end ultimately soulless. There’s a few bits to like, but not nearly enough.