X-Men: The Last Stand

Posted: June 23, 2017 in Movies
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For a lot of X-Men fans The Last Stand is not what they’d call one of the better entries in the series. X-Men and X2 director Bryan Singer decided not to return to direct (instead opting to direct Superman Returns) and the film had a messy pre-production. At one point X-Man: First Class’s Matthew Vaughn was set to direct until Fox hired Rush Hour’s Brett Ratner. The hold up in filming also meant several key players from both X-Men and X2 had other work commitments or simply got lost in the rush to get the film made, which is most visible in the reduced roles of Cyclops (James Marsden), Mystique (Rebecca Romijin) and Rogue (Anna Paquin). I can’t say that X-Men: The Last Stand is a great or even solid entry into the franchise. It definitely has issues but I stop short at calling the film bad. It’s okay. I think the hurt mostly comes from what the film promised -The Dark Phoenix – and the questionable execution this classic comic arc was given on screen.

The plot(s) in The Last Stand are like two whole movies worth crammed into one hour and forty odd minutes running time. You get the Dark Phoenix stuff, which is in of itself a pure event laden arc and then you also got this parallel plot focusing on Worthington Labs who have created a ‘cure’ for mutation and all of the moral arguments that go along with that. Do mutants need a cure? Will it be weaponised? How will Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his Brotherhood react? Then factor in Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). She’s now the Dark Phoenix, a being of limitless power. The possibilities endless, only in the case of The Last Stand she’s simply used as weapon/tool by Magneto to combat the cure and the threat of humanity. The busy plot and the directions it goes in serving neither the cure angle or the Phoenix as a whole and it’s a shame.

There are parts of The Last Stand that I do enjoy. The most memorable being the films score by John Powell. Some of the music cues are brilliant, from the Phoenix theme through to the opening titles of the film. The idea of the cure is great as are the different points of view on it and how those become radicalised once the ‘cure’ is used as a weapon at one point in the film. Rogue for example has a genuine reason for the cure as she can’t even touch her boyfriend. That was an interesting angle, sadly because the film is SO packed it doesn’t get the room it needs to breath as a plot thread. Famke Janssen really gets to show off her acting chops as Jean/Phoenix, she’s great in the role, sadly I feel she should have been THE focus of the film and instead she’s relegated to more of a henchwoman role as the film rushes towards it’s conclusion. Her showdown with Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is a great scene. The addition of Beast (Kelsey Grammer), one of the original X-Men, is boss and I think Grammer nailed the role. The action scenes are cool, the film has a pace that is too quick for it’s own good so it’s never boring and there’s some cool new/expanded additions to the X-Men on screen such as Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut and Ellen Page as Kitty Pride.

I never felt the change in directors was what hurt The Last Stand upon release, you can’t blame Brett Ratner. If anything Ratner was very respectful of Singer’s vision and went as far as to give the third entry in the series a similar visual tone. If anything I feel the script was the issue. I just don’t feel like they’d quite nailed it and to be honest Fox should have probably delayed the film and focused on writing a stronger screenplay.

There are parts of The Last Stand that do work it just never comes together as a whole. Thankfully Fox announced last week that long time series writer Simon Kinberg will be directing the latest installment in the franchise, the sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse titled…wait for it – X-Men: Dark Phoenix!! Here’s hoping lessons were learned from Last Stand and Dark Phoenix really knocks it out of the park.

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