X-Men: The Last Stand is fast, explosive, exciting and thoroughly Marvel-ous (I’m sorry). It excells as a comic-book movie. The action is bigger and deeper than in the other X-Men films. The fight scenes nicely showcase the mutant abilities of everyone present, including Kelsey Grammer (Down Periscope)’s Beast, Shadowcat and several new badguys. Thankfully director Brett Ratner doesn’t continue Brian Singer’s habit of showcasing each mutant in turn, as if they were queueing up to take part in the fight like bond villain henchmen.
But action, even in an action movie, is not enough to make a film. The Last Stand‘s plot has a stronger foundation than the previous films too. For people who don’t live in the centre of the Hollywood hype machine as I do, the basis of the film is that the American government has developed a cure for mutancy. Some mutants who want to fit in welcome the cure. Others who define themselves by their mutation are opposed to the idea of a cure. Think of the outcry if someone was to develop a ‘cure’ for homosexuality and you get some idea of Magneto (Ian McKellen, Last Action Hero)’s position in this film. So there’s definitely a challenging issue to deal with in this plot.
Unfortunately the focus of the film is split. Partly it tries to tackle the ethical issues surrounding the cure, in particular the divergence in the stances of Magneto and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart, Death Train). But much of the film’s length is devoted to the second story of Phoenix, the personification of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, I Spy)’s subconcious. An attempt is made to promote Phoenix as the big threat of the film, and the emotional climax does revolve around her. But for me it fell flat. For whatever reason I just couldn’t bring myself to care about that character, because I never cared about Jean.
That unsympathetic central character aside, X3 is brilliant. It’s so good that I’m going to see it again tomorrow. It lives up to the expectations set by the first two, and it goes in some daring directions. (This is the bit where I don’t tell you about the fact that *spoiler*, *spoiler* and *spoiler* are *spoiler*ed, and *spoiler* and *spoiler* get *spoiler*ed).
If you just want the one-line review: Beast == teh cool.