Sunday, 6 February 2011

Film Review: X-Men: The Last Stand [2006]

EDIT (2013): WARNING - I wrote these reviews aaaaages ago and possibly don't even agree with them any more.  I have since discovered that one sentence reviews are a lot more fun.  Please see One Sentence Film Reviews tab.


The third X-Men film is the only consistently exciting film of the series, and it has an intriguing premise (whether mutants need to be cured) that reverses the roles of the first film, so it is more interesting than the disappointing X2.  But it is by no means a good film. 

For a start, it’s clumsily written.  Plot hints are painfully sledgehammered in while new ideas are dropped in with no explanation (exactly what is a mutant mark or a mutant class?).  The plot is holey, particularly at the finale, which happens far too soon, just over an hour in.  The Last Stand needed to be much longer than an hour and a half to give this idea the attention it needs and to handle returning and new characters sufficiently.

That’s the big problem.  The characters.  The Last Stand takes characters with little opinion on the cure as leads (Storm), sidelining those who do have opinions (Rogue, Mystique, Angel).  There are too many new characters, who while occasionally interesting, should have been set up in the previous films or left out.  No character parallels play out and too many characters die, considering the sparse death list in the previous films.  Are they trying to make up for lost time? 

Several main characters clog up the plot and would have been better cut, making room for relevant subplots. 

The pseudo-romance between Bobby and Kitty is a misstep, seemingly only existing to drive Rogue out of the film, despite her being infinitely more interesting and likeable than these two kids. 

Likewise, the desperate ‘romance’ between Wolverine and Jean is still being paraded about, despite there being no explicable or discernable attraction between them.  It’s tedious that Wolverine is still desperate to get it on with Jean, despite her now being a completely different person.  She is insane, has no personality, and would have been better left at the bottom of the lake at the end of the last film.  She is a non-entity of a character, reduced to a psychotic weapon.  Whenever the camera pans over to her, it’s a jarring reminder that she is even in the film, and when she decides to actually be involved in the finale, this leads to the biggest let down yet.  There are better parallels and subplots that could have culminated here, but instead the ending is swiftly wrapped up with little payoff.

Meanwhile, main characters such as Cyclops, Mystique and Rogue are heartlessly tossed aside both by their friends and the script, and their interesting subplots axed, when these are the strands that should be carrying the film.

Admittedly, new additions Beast and Juggernaut are a lot of fun, but however cool six X-Men facing the onslaught of hundreds is, the audience barely knows this small line of underdeveloped, boring characters.  Wolverine, Storm, Bobby, Colossus, Beast, Kitty; I would happily kill four of those characters if it meant a few more minutes of Rogue and Cyclops.  And is this really the last stand?  Isn’t this actually the first stand?  It’s not even that important.

There are serious issues here, not least almost everyone suddenly being dislikeable, especially Storm, Magneto, Professor X, Bobby and Jean.  Mentor of the heroes, Professor X, follows the same character arc he had in the first two films, but here it isn’t handled as skilfully.  Leader of the villains, Magneto, having long given up being a sympathetic villain is utterly repulsive, and extremely irritatingly played by Ian McKellen, and despite constantly egging Jean on to kill people, still comes out with the worst-delivered line of the film, “What have I done?”

As usual, my biggest gripe is that Rogue doesn’t get to shine, when she has the most potential (Anna Paquin is also the best actor in it, so why more screen time is given to the worst actor in it (we all know who I mean) is baffling).  When Rogue professes interest in getting cured, Storm claims that there is nothing wrong with her.  Rogue’s response should be to touch Storm’s face, and see if Storm still thinks there is nothing wrong with Rogue, now that she’s dead.

There’s still potential here for more films, especially if you don’t blink on the final shot.  Potential that means Rogue could still actually get to be the focus of a film, plus since we don’t actually see the death of the freaking leader of the X-Men, he can probably get better and be in it too.  And then they could finally introduce Gambit.  It could be called the Rogue-Cyclops-Gambit X-Men film that doesn’t have Storm or Jean in it because no one likes them.

Who am I kidding?  Stick to X-Men, and pretend it had no sequels.

**½

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