X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Hugh Jackman as WOLVERINE
Halle Berry as STORM
Ian McKellen as MAGNETO
Famke Janssen as JEAN GREY/PHOENIX
Anna Paquin as ROGUE
Kelsey Grammer as DR. HANK MCCOY/BEAST
Rebecca Romijn as MYSTIQUE
James Marsden as SCOTT SUMMERS
Shawn Ashmore as BOBBY DRAKE
Patrick Stewart as PROFESSOR CHARLES XAVIER
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Brett Ratner
BY KEVIN CARR
I have been a fan of the “X-Men” films for years. With the possible exception of the “Spider-Man” franchise, this group of movies manages to best capture the spirit of superhero comic books without falling over the edge into silliness.
When Bryan Singer left the franchise to give his own spin to “Superman” (which only sort of worked), many people lamented the fact that Brett Ratner was coming to help out the mutants. I, however, was somewhat interested.
Everything I’ve seen about Brett Ratner leads me to believe he’s a bit of a dolt. He’s arrogant, condescending and cocky. However, he is an excellent director of mainstream Hollywood movies. Regardless of what I think of the man, Ratner delivers as a director.
This new X-Men movie has a darker edge, not just in the story but in the costumes and the production design. It takes a harsher look at the mutant world, and it doesn’t shy away from shaking things up and killing a few of them.
In this film, the X-Men and the Brotherhood are at odds. In the normal human world, a corporation has developed a way to rid mutants of their powers. The humans are calling it a cure. The Brotherhood is calling it a weapon. Meanwhile, the death of Jean Gray has left the X-Men stunned. When she suddenly is resurrected as the mentally off-kilter supervillain The Phoenix, it’s clear to both sides that she’s the most powerful mutant around.
“X-Men: The Last Stand” was the quintessential summer action flick. I know that “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” was the one the stole all the thunder this summer, but I found the third installment of the X-Men to be more enjoyable.
There are new characters introduced, most notably Beast (played by Kelsey Grammer) for the good guys. We also see the return of our favorites like Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Storm (Halle Berry). What I found most interesting was the way the film developed the younger characters like Ice Man (Shawn Ashmore), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and Pyro (Aaron Stanford).
What really helps keep these movies afloat is the return of the solid cast that made the first two films great. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen lend a credibility to these films that can only come from such accomplished actors.
The DVD is a little slim, but still worth checking out, even for the casual fan. There are two commentary tracks. The first, featuring Ratner with screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn, approaches the film from a standpoint of how it specifically was crafted. The second commentary features producers Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter. For contrast, this group talks about the series as a whole, what was done this time that was different and how unused elements from the first film were incorporated into “The Last Stand.”
Other special features include several deleted scenes and three scenes from possible alternative endings. Filmmaker commentary is also included here. For fans who want to revisit the FOX superhero films, there’s a trailer park with the Marvel retrospective.
Of course, with a darker story and a slightly downer ending, the stage has been set for no further X-Men films (although there are films about Wolverine and Magneto already in development). Still, like a good soap opera, comic book characters never completely go away – and the fans know this.
Specifications: DTS 6.1 ES. Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX. Widescreen (2.40:1). Spanish and French language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.