With X-Men: Days of Future Past set for a May 23rd release, we felt that now was a good time for us to look back at one of the earlier X-Men films, hence we are re-presenting our review of X-Men The Last Stand, which came out (and was originally reviewed) in 2006, and is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
The only good mutant...
By Robert J. Sodaro
Directed by: Brett Ratner
They are bold, bigger than life, wear black leather, and are terribly misunderstood. Yes boys and girls, they are Mutants, and it looks like they were here to stay for the summer of 2008. Marvel Comics outlaw heroes blew into the Cineplexs, and it well, they were a huge hit, and with the mutant’s grand entrance into the theater, the summer blockbuster season was officially launched. While this installment of the X-trilogy may not be as fully fleshed out as its immediate predecessor, it certainly made up for that by adding a (way) bigger bang to your movie bucks!
Yes boys and girls, in spite of what anyone said to the contrary, X-Men: The Last Stand was really everything you could possibly have wanted in an big-ticket, summer blockbuster; state-of-the-art SPFX, over-the-top testosterone-enhanced histrionics (even from the women), epic throw-downs involving good and evil, and (most-important) a check-your-brain-at-the-door plot that could be stretched-net-like thin to cover everyone’s political boogiemen. That’s right, kiddies, over their 43-year history those individuals who have carried the “X” gene, have long stood in substitute for a multitude of disaffected youth (teens, blacks, gays, those with different Socio-economic, political and/or religious beliefs — in fact anyone who was different, and felt persecuted — could substitute the word “mutant” for whatever sub-segment of society in which they existed, and the analogy would hold; but enough of this soul-searching (about as much that was spent in the film), on with the show.
As you recall, at the end of the previous film, there appeared to be status quo between humans and mutants, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), was (still) dead (only now not so much, as she’s back in this flick and (just like in the comic) calling herself Phoenix), and Cyclops was (still) pining away for his lost love. Well, at the start of this flick, Storm stepped up to be the team’s field leader with — interestingly enough — none other than the wily Wolverine at her side (filling in for the morose Scott who is not only looking but acting more and more like Wolverine).
Oh yeah, also at the start of this flick we have a president who is sympathetic towards mutants, and actually a mutant Secretary of Mutant Affairs (Now you know that this film is science fiction, at the time it was made we could’t even get a President that was sympathetic to, you know, actual minorities). Then of course, there are the Yin/Yang twins, Prof. Charles Xavier's (Stewart), and his darker-side, Magneto (McKellen), who — once again — take opposite sides of the issue when Warren Worthington II (Angel’s billionaire dad) develops a “cure” that will turn Mutants normal. To be sure, everyone wants to line up on opposite sides of this one, human and mutant alike, including the X-Men themselves (with the “untouchable” Rogue looking for a way to remove her own particular curse so that she can actually touch her boyfriend, Bobby “Iceman” Drake —Shawn Ashmore).
Well, while both Xavier and Eric Lensherr (Magneto), want the distribution of the so-called cure stopped, Xavier still wants to do it through political maneuvering (tapping the Beast (Kelsey Grammer) to get the job done) with Lensherr prefering a more — how shall we say — direct approach, and begins recruiting acolytes from among the Mutant underground (including Callisto and others), and bring the fight to the Humans. What follows is as honest a debate on Mutant rights as we have ever read in the comic, as well as some fast-paced action as well as all of the wicked-cool “insider” touches that old timers like ourselves like to see (Marvel Icon Stan Lee and Legendary X-Man scribe Chris Claremont both make cameos as neighbors of Jean Grey; Hank McCoy uttering “Oh my stars and garters!” at one point in the film, as well as references to the address of both Jean’s and Prof. X’s homes, and the sideways references (both visible and spoken) to numerous other comic-book touchstones.)
It was obvious to this funnybook-fan-cum-film-critic that director Ratner did his homework, making this film tie back to not only both of the two earlier films by Bryan Singer as well as to the comicbook work done by both Lee and Claremont. (Oh yeah, and here is a secret that everyone already knows, if you are one of those casual fans who walked out of the theater as soon as the credits started to roll and the house lights came up, you now have the opportunity to watch the very totally-cool Easter Egg film clip that occurred at the end of the theatrical release.)
So, there it is then, and, well, truth to tell, if that were all that were here, then yeah, perhaps some of the ire and scorn that was heaped upon this film by the comicbook fanboy critic elite would be (perhaps) justified. But it isn’t, not really. So in spite of whatever those yaboo little darlings want you to believe, this really is a fine film. No, it isn’t the comicbook, nor is it Star Wars: A new Hope (back when they were just calling it “Star Wars”) and no, it isn’t War and Peace, but it is a really fun film that will entertain you if you would only check your ego at the door when you sit down to watch it, and don’t pre-determine that you are going to hate it. So, while we were going to start this review off by slamming those so-called critics, who bashed this film (because it was different than the comic or whatever), we think it is unseemly to take potshots at other critics for their “viewpoint” on films. It seems to us that guys like that are more impressed with the fact that they can trash a film and get off on being self-important, we’ll just choose to exit by utilizing a line from Marshall McLuhan, remember boys, “It’s the medium not the message”
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.