Action Movie Fanatix Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men The Last Stand banner

Whose Side Will You Be On?

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Patrick Stewart, Ellen Page, Daniel Cudmore, Ben Foster, Bill Duke, Ken Leung

Director: Brett Ratner

2006  |  104 Minutes  |  PG-13

“Maybe it’s time for us to move on.” – Wolverine
“Not everybody heals as fast as you, Logan.” – Cyclops

X-Men: The Last Stand is pretty unanimously hated among the comic book movie fandom.  I was gifted the DVD after it came out and honestly haven’t watched it once.  I’ve finally decided to give it another shot.  It still has a ton of problems but there are a few redeeming qualities that I didn’t appreciate on my first viewing.

With Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) seemingly back from the dead and mutant cure soon to be made available, battle lines are drawn between Professor Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) X-Men and Magneto’s (Ian McKellen) Brotherhood.

First off, I want to say that X-Men: The Last Stand’s bad rap is somewhat undeserving.  The previous X-Men movies aren’t as great as some people seem to think and The Last Stand is far from the worst super hero movie ever made.  Of course, these things don’t excuse it from still being a bad movie.

The movie deals with two HUGE X-Men storylines – the mutant cure and the Dark Phoenix Saga.  It butchers the Phoenix storyline.  Absolutely butchers it.  Rather than having the Phoenix be an intergalactic being that occupies the body of Jean Grey causing her to do some very terrible things, the movie version is something that has always been INSIDE Jean Grey, buried deep down by Xavier.  Plus, it actually takes second fiddle to a supposed mutant cure storyline that is negated by the end of the film.

Cyclops is underused again.  We should really be used to it at this point but you would think that the leader of the X-Men would have garnered some decent attention over the course of three movies.  He’s treated like nothing more than a mirror for Wolverine to bounce some anger off of before he is seemingly killed.

Professor X hints at Storm leading the X-Men but when the big battle comes Wolverine calls more shots than she does.

X-Men The Last Stand Beast

Kelsey Grammer is absolutely perfect as Beast.  Not only is his previous work as Dr. Frasier Crane make the transition very easy for the viewer but his voice reminds me of the voice of the Beast character from the animated series.  Plus his makeup is pretty phenomenal.

X-Men The Last Stand promo

Promotional material for the movie shows Ben Foster’s Angel as a part of the X-Men team.  He never dons the leather in the entire movie.  The most heroic thing he does is swoop through and save his dad from being killed in the final battle.  It’s too bad, really.  An original X-Man deserves better.

X-Men The Last Stand Juggernaut

Vinnie Jones mostly worked for the role of Juggernaut.  He did with what little he was given.  The Juggernaut character is relegated to simply being the muscle of the team.  His relationship with Xavier is never addressed, in fact, we are told nothing about his past.  His costume is atrocious and I really think they missed a huge opportunity with having Juggernaut and Colossus slug it out for a bit on screen.  I might be the only one but I loved the “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” line.

X-Men The Last Stand Omega Gang

The Morlocks are introduced to the X-Men movie series here as well.  Callisto is the rightful leader but she is joined by a random group of mutants like Kid Omega, Arclight, Glob Herman and Psylocke.  Nothing against any of these mutants but why not use real Morlocks to make up the movie Morlock team?  There have been plenty of members throughout the years.  It wouldn’t be too hard to find a few that posed a reasonable threat to the X-Men.  Plus you could throw in some of the less threatening ones just to show how the group is largely made up of “freaks.”  And to have Psylocke as anything other than an X-Man is just a crime.

One of the things that I have always enjoyed about the X-Men movies is the little things that are thrown in for diehards like myself – things where the casual fan doesn’t need to catch it but those that do get the satisfaction of “getting it.”  Bryan Singer, for all his faults, did a great job throwing random mutants into the background that typically came from the comics.  Ratner, on the other hand, seems content to create his own mutants with powers that have likely never appeared in the comics.  For example we see a girl who can write on a piece of paper by simply waving her hand over the page.  Another can turn on a TV with a blink.  These are super important powers for a lazy generation but I’ve never heard of them being used by anyone in the comic books.

If previous movies had done a better job establishing and building X-Men and Brotherhood members we wouldn’t have a movie that rushes to show us all these new characters.  The X-Men team is slightly less guilty of this as we had already seen Kitty Pryde and Colossus but Magneto’s brotherhood was wiped out in the first movie.  Since then he has only been able to recruit Pyro leaving him no other option than to recruit the makeshift Morlocks.  Pretty pathetic if you ask me.  Magneto has had tons of followers throughout the years.  How hard would it have been to use them or even to bring back Toad and/or Sabretooth.

The prison transport break is one of the highlights of the movie.  Magneto unleashes his power in devastating fashion for one of the first times in the series.  Until now Magneto has not been the ruthless Magneto that is seen in the comics and cartoon series.  I remember one of my first times really getting into the character of Magneto was with an animated X-Men movie called Pryde of the X-Men.  Magneto single handedly smashed into a military base and took a bunch of missiles and threatened to blow up the entire base.  When I say single handedly I mean that the Brotherhood was in tow but Magneto basically did all the work.  Anways, it was pretty cool to see that level of power and aggression coming from the Master of Magnetism for the first time in the film series.

X-Men: The Last Stand is the first X-Men movie to give us a big blowoff ending that these movies have deserved.  2000’s X-Men’s finale was far too confined to be the huge battle we would expect from a big X-Men vs. Brotherhood showdown.  With The Last Stand the battle has the entire Alcatraz Island to battle it out.  It was cool to have Storm faceoff with Callisto since they had a pretty serious rivalry in the comics.  This final battle also sees Bobby Drake achieve his Iceman form for the first time which was actually really cool (pun intended) and very satisfying after having followed his journey from the first movie.  We also get a Fastball Special from Colossus and Wolverine.  Pretty sweet.

X-Men The Last Stand Phoenix

The biggest thing that has always pissed me off about The Last Stand was that it purposely made it VERY difficult for there to be future installments in the franchise.  Jean Grey is dead.  Cyclops is dead.  Professor Xavier is dead (kinda).  Rogue is depowered.  Mystique is depowered.  Magneto is depowered (for now).  The only choice left is to go back in time (done) or to do some time traveling / altering of the past (soon to be done).  But as an X-Men fan this was a lot to take in.

X-Men: The Last Stand has gotten a bad rap for a multitude of reasons.  Most of those reasons are justified but it isn’t quite as bad as many people would have us believe.  The action is really some of the best in the series up to this point, aside from Nightcrawler’s attack on the president in X2.  But with the character and story destruction that occurred here it is a wonder the series has been able to continue as successfully as it has.  I REALLY hope Days of Future Past can set this series straight.  I’d love to see my favorite super hero team finally done right.

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