X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006) 

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Hugh Jackman
Halle Berry
Ian McKellen
Patrick Stewart
Famke Janssen
Anna Paquin
Kelsey Grammer
James Marsden
Rebecca Romijn
Shawn Ashmore
Aaron Stanford
Ellen Page

Brett Ratner



Time: 104 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Super Hero/Sci-Fi

SYNOPSIS: When a cure is found to treat mutations, lines are drawn amongst the X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier, and the Brotherhood, a band of powerful mutants organized under Xavier's former ally, Magneto.

BOTTOM LINE: What a difference a director makes. Singer, who directed the first two films, clearly had an affinity for the material, bringing this complex world and its' characters to life with style and heart. Despite changes to the mythology, he kept the core of the comic intact and developed storylines that made you care about these people. Ratner had one of the most compelling storylines from the early days of the X-Men to play with and he clearly was more interested in the special effects than creating a compelling plot. He reduces the rebirth of Jean Grey (Janssen) as the all-powerful Phoenix into a mere unthinking weapon to be used by the bad guys against the government trying to "cure" them.

Her struggle to control her powers should have been the center of the film and would have provided real human conflict and emotion. Instead, the film is reduced to the fewest scenes necessary to make it coherent in between all the fighting and explosions. I'm rarely a proponent of movies being longer, but this one really needed more story to make it at all interesting. Granted I'm a big fan of the comic, so my disappointment may be greater than the general audience, however, these films and the books, are about more than just the cool things these mutants can do with their special powers. Stewart, Berry and Jackman are given little to do but react to others. Why Grammer endured hours of makeup to become the Beast is a mystery since the part is so underutilized. Their characters are interesting, complicated people, played by good/great actors and the film focuses it's time and effort on a teenage love triangle? What a waste.

McKellen makes a great villain, but he's nothing new, and his "punk rock" compatriots are more silly than scary. Only Juggernaut makes any sort of positive impression mostly because he's big and breaks through walls. This hodgepodge of stories never amounts to much by failing to let the characters do more than fight, turning them back into cartoons. Those who like flashy effects might be entertained by this movie, but they're not as inventive or exciting as the sequences in the first two films. Without Singer back at the helm this series is doomed and a fourth installment will not be worth my time.

"I don't have to be psychic to see that something's bothering you."

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