X3: The Last Stand
Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen
Directed By:
Brett Ratner

Anyone who has paid any attention to the news about the development of the third installment of the X-Men movie series would have more than a few things to be concerned about. With director Bryan Singer leaving to work on Superman Returns, the film was handed over to Ratner (Rush Hour). With Halle Berry wanting more screen time, James Marsden having scheduling issues and the producers not wanting Alan Cumming back, one had to wonder how the script would play out.

After the death of Jean Grey at the end of the second movie, we find a Scott Summers who is not the man he used to be. At the same time, a cure for the mutant gene is found. This raises a certain moral quandary: does one take the cure to fit in with society, fight against the cure, or fight to allow people the choice. Unfortunately, this moral quandary is only taken on face value. We're given a minor portion where Rogue goes to get cured so that she can finally touch her boyfriend, who she is afraid of losing to Shadowcat, another young female mutant.

When Jean Grey turns up alive at the place of her previous death, Wolverine and Storm return her to the mansion, only to discover that Professor X had previously toyed with her mind to contain the massive power within. Because of this, she had built a second personality. When this personality arises, she leaves the X-Men and joins Magneto and his growing army of mutants bent on stopping the cure, which is being used as a weapon. This leads to a conflict between the humans, Magneto's forces and the X-Men.

I would have to say that The Last Stand benefits from the character development set out in the previous two movies. Without it, the cast here would be dead weight running through the motions. It's really sad that a movie that should have focused on Jean Grey's internal conflict spends so little time on her actual character. In fact, most of the time spent with the personas feels more like a replay of the last two movies. And Jean spends way too much time just standing around.

In terms of fan service. The Last Stand does a good job throwing in more than it's fair share. We get the fastball special and a fight with a Sentinel (though we only see it's head), and Beast gets some good action sequences. Vinnie Jones as the Juggernaut is serviceable, but better when he doesn't talk. Visual effects are obviously where most of the budget went into. I would have to say that they could have toned it down a bit as some of the effects are a bit over the the top for the "more realistic" X-Men world set in the previous two films. Also, the film is certainly paced a bit too fast, screaming through the hour and forty minutes with little time for character.

The Last Stand is a good popcorn summer blockbuster, but it certainly is a step back from the second movie. At this point, I would have to suggest that they put the series to an end. The first two movies spent more time with the characters and felt less directed, or dictated, but the cast and production choices. Unless they can find a way to give any future sequels a fresh restart, this is a good way to end it all.

- - Kinderfeld

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