Wednesday, 23 September 2020
X-Men 3 The Last Stand
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 30 May 2006 20:54

Very few film franchises can ever survive having a director jump ship mid-way through a series. The norm would be for the film to flounder in post-production hell, go through rewrite after rewrite and lose half its cast to other projects. Thankfully, that was not the case with X-Men: The Last Stand when Brian Singer decided to helm another comic icon in Superman Returns. Oddly enough Brett Ratner took over X-Men after abandoning the Superman project! Hollywood is a small world! If these big shot directors want to walk in each-others shoes than who am I to judge? Wait a minute… I’m a critic so I guess it’s my job to judge!

The premise of X3 wouldn’t be out of place in a newspaper headline or on the evening news. “Cure Found for Mutant Gene”. Scientists have discovered a boy whose genetic mutation is that he cures genetic mutation in others. Cameron Bright plays the boy and is quickly making a name for himself as the current “it” child-star after a controversial breakout role in Birth with Nicole Kidman.

The mutants are faced with the question of whether or not they want to be “cured”. Representing two factions of mutants are Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who runs a school and heads the X-Men, and Eric Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto (Ian McKellan) who leads the less peaceful Brotherhood. While the two sides agree that curing genetic mutation is wrong, Magneto still wants to wage war on the humans and destroy the source of the cure. So far he has been the primary villain of the series but in this film we find ourselves agreeing with and even feeling a little sorry for him!

Famke Jansen reprises her role as Jean Grey who has now risen as Phoenix, the most powerful mutant in the X-Men universe. Despite Xavier’s efforts to help her Phoenix can’t control her telekinetic powers. This storyline holds a lot of major surprises that will have comic purists shaking their fists in anger. I’m not sure how I feel about some of the liberties taken, though it made for an unpredictable movie. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there is an X-Men 4 before I make a verdict on this.

Most of the regular characters are back including everyone’s favorite, Wolverine. Australian star Hugh Jackman first burst onto American radar with his intense portrayal of the brooding anti-hero. He brings a delicate balance of charisma to a character whose temper often gets the best of him.

Other faces fans will recognize are James Marsden as Cyclops, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman and Anna Paquin as Rogue. Some of the roles were reduced to make way for newcomers including Kelsey Grammar as Beast and Ellen Page (a native Nova Scotian!) as Kitty Pryde. Dropped altogether was Allan Cumming who I thought was spectacular as Nightcrawler in X2. Unfortunately Halle Berry’s role as Storm has actually been expanded turning her into a central character. I have never been a fan of Halle but she didn’t annoy me as much in this film as in the previous two. Perhaps that’s because she dropped the mysterious accent that seemed to come and go as it pleased.

After some skepticism about the new director and new characters, I wasn’t sure if X-Men: The Last Stand would grab me quite as much as the others did. If you read my reviews often, you’ll know that I often compare comic / superhero movies to the first two X-Men films. I think they are among the best in the genre. But after a bit of a rocky start, I found myself just as absorbed as ever in this third installment. There are a few flaws brought on by incorporating so many secondary characters, but not to Batman levels of over-saturation.

With such dark story material, it’s odd that Brett Ratner would come up with a film that is much brighter lit than the other two. A lot of the action takes place in sunny suburban neighborhoods and city streets. The special effects sequences look fantastic – especially a pivotal scene in which Phoenix raises a whole house off its foundations.

I think that X-Men: The Last Stand is the best summer blockbuster of the season so far. We’ll see in a few weeks if Pirates of the Caribbean 2 blows it out of the water! I give X-Men: The Last Stand 8 out of 10 stars.