eyeCandy: X-Men 3: the Last Stand (2006) 4/5
In this film, we have a storyline taken from the X-Men comics which is massaged to construct the plot of the Last Stand. Jean Grey's character returns from her apparent demise in the previous film but with some disturbing differences. The power she evidenced at the close of X-Men 2 has, in the absence of Professor X's psychic assistance, blossomed to the point where her own control of this incredible power, indeed even whether or not this can even be thought of as Jean Grey (as opposed to the Phoenix, from the comic storyline), is doubtful. This discovery arises in the context of the government having developed a weaponized "anti-mutant" serum that would permanently remove mutants' powers and revert them back to homo-sapiens.
The characters of Beast (another blue furry guy, to replace Nightcrawler I guess :-) , and played by Kelsey Grammar), Kitty Pryde (formerly the little girl who walked through walls, and played by Halifax's own Ellen Page), and Angel (who is barely in the film, played by Ben Foster) are introduced for the "good guys". They join Professor X (again, perfectly acted by Patrick Stewart) and returning X-Men Colossus (Daniel Cudmore - who we saw briefly turning to metal in the previous film), Storm, Iceman, and, everybody's fav, Wolverine (fanboy note: this movie introduces the "fastball special" combo move by which Colossus takes Wolverine and launches him at the enemy).
Magneto (Ian McKellen - superb as always) has also done some recruiting, giving flamer Pyro (Aaron Stanford) a bigger role, and introducing the inspired choice of Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut (whose powers actually come from a mystical gem and so who is not a mutant at all despite being a member of Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants - more fanboy trivia). A variety of other members have roles of varying significance.
So what's the problem with this movie? The story is decent (decent enough to make a movie on par with the earlier two) but the realization of the story is where this movie falls flat. Some of the dialog seems a little dumbed down and awkward, and frankly (although not surprisingly) Bret Ratner, whose most known movies are probably the Rush Hour series, just can't direct as well as Bryan Singer who, along with crafting two of the best superhero movies ever with the first two X-Men (and hopefully a third in the works with the new Superman), can claim the Usual Suspects and other successful and challenging films on his resume.
Indeed, Bryan Singer was supposed to direct X-Men 3 but instead jumped at the opportunity to take over a flailing production of the new Superman Returns from... who? Brett Ratner. With typical studio wisdom, 20th Century Fox declined Singer's offer to simply start on X-Men 3 after his work on Superman Returns was over (an opportunity he understandably did not want to miss), and instead gave the job to Ratner who, coincidently, was also one of the potential directors for the original X-Men in 2000 (we see from X-Men 3 that it is a blessing that Singer was chosen instead). A strange turn of events and ultimately the decision that I think made this movie not stand up to the previous two.
In short, if you think you'd like this movie then I think you will. If you're a bit worried that it won't stack up to earlier X-Men b/c of the loss of Singer's direction then you're right. However, it's still a decent movie, and where else can you so many live action superheros and villains in one place? :-)
5/29/2006 10:03:00 AM