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X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
U.S. Release Date: May 26, 2006
Distributor: Fox
Director: Brett Ratner
Writer: Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn
Producer: Avi Arad (executive), Lauren Schuler Donner, Kevin Feige ((executive)), Stan Lee (executive), Ralph Winter
Composer: John Powell
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Ben Foster, Patrick Stewart, Ellen Page
Running Time: 1 hour and 44 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and language)

Mutant Mash Mixed But Exciting
by Scott Holleran

The third picture in the comics-based series, X-Men: The Last Stand, is big, loud and overbearing. In other words, it is exactly what it purports to be.

Taking too long to introduce interlocking subplots about its super-powered mutants, director Brett Ratner knows his turf. The action centers on mutant character Jean/Phoenix (Famke Janssen), who rises from her sacrifice in the last movie to lock lips with her grieving boyfriend, Scott/Cyclops (James Marsden). Standing over a gorgeous lake, they engage as only mutants can.

Meanwhile, as Jean's return hangs ominously over the story, Eric/Magneto (Ian McKellen), uses a band of mutant baddies to deploy an overarching scheme to take over the world. A drug firm's cure for mutant-itis prominently figures into his wrath, which cleverly mocks videotaped terrorist threats and car bombs. The mutant monsters eventually advance on San Francisco.

Out to stop them and reflecting the movie's sketchy theme about finding unity among unique individuals are hairy Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), glow-eyed Ororo/Storm (Halle Berry) and Patrick Stewart's handicapped mutant professor, among scads of others. They try to reclaim Jean for the home team.

Multiple personality-laden Jean has the hots for Logan, who hasn't given up on the dour, psychotic mutant, whose freakishness evokes Carrie. This girl has major issues and she sorts through them by literally putting her house in disorder, inducing the series coda that nothing's quite right unless everything's demonstrably wrong. A showdown at Alcatraz comes on like a full-scale prison yard riot.

Computer simulations are visually striking, and Ratner generally has a good sense of flow, though the first hour is pure multi-mutant fatigue and no single character gets enough screen time. Kelsey Grammer, fresh from decades of playing Frasier, looking like a cross between a blue-skinned Abe Lincoln and General Urko from Planet of the Apes, debuts as if he's headlining on Broadway.

Grammer, like Messrs. Stewart and McKellen, adds heft to this action fluff, which gains steam with odd pairings, match-ups and assorted scenes. A winged young man and his pharmaceutical chief father, who would test the cure on his son, deliver a nice story line in what amounts to something like twelve seconds and other subplots come in and out of view without major obstruction.

Special effects are spectacular and the Alcatraz confrontation between the forces of good and evil tucks everyone's struggles into a tense, relatively coherent test of each mutant's powers. Lapses of logic are everywhere but that is to be expected.

X-Men: The Last Stand sticks a sunny note on this tragic, closing chapter—major characters are literally blown to bits—yet it remains a markedly malevolent universe with the volume cranked up, so the genre's fans will get their fix.

Others will find something to appreciate, whether light humor in the dialog, action one can follow, or characters one can distinguish. While it has the worst elements of today's culture—anti-heroism, the depraved more interesting than the good and a prototypical angry feminist who's a one-woman emasculator—it is well made and exciting to watch.

Buy on DVD
DVD Notes
X-Men: The Last Stand on single-disc DVD is about what you'd expect. Scene selection menus are, unfortunately but expectedly, like video game interfaces. Appropriately, box art relegates Wolverine's clean-cut mutant rival, Scott Summers, also known as Cyclops, to the back cover.

Deleted scenes, neatly branded with titles—a courteous touch—filtered some humor out of the final print. In the best bit, when Beast (Kelsey Grammer) meets Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), somebody says: "I hear you're a real animal," and somebody growls.

An audio commentary with writers Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg and director Brett Ratner ranges from snappy to head-spinning, with a few mildly interesting notes, such as pegging a shot as filmed by the series' earlier director, Bryan Singer, though don't expect to figure out who's talking since they talk over one another. Another audio track teams three producers. Optional commentary is available for deleted scenes, too.


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