X-Men the Last Stand - Anti-Climax
| When it was announced that director Bryan Singer would be leaving the X-Men series to direct a new Superman film, Superman fans had plenty to celebrate but X-Men fans were concerned.
When it was announced that Rush Hour hackÖ I mean, director Brett Ratner would be taking over the X series, X-Men fans had reason to panic.
It turns out those fears are somewhat overblown, but not totally unreasonable.
X-Men the Last Stand turns out not to be total crap like previous Ratner films After the Sunset or The Family Man. Itís more like his Red Dragon adaptation. Capable but no where near the standard of the series itís a part of.
The X-Men films have been a bit of minor miracle. After the super-hero/comic genre had disintegrated with the Batman franchise, the first X-Men film came along like a breath of fresh air. Not perfect by any means but intelligent, heartfelt and sincere. It was also a tonne of fun. Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) had crafted a smart summer blockbuster and followed it up with an even more impressive sequel.
However, like the Superman and Batman series before it, the third film is where the X saga starts to go off track. It seems like the producers have decided that the whole mess has gotten too expensive so the third film will act as some sort of super-finale that kills off almost all the characters and tries to wrap up the ongoing plots with a nice ribbon on them.
Instead of investing in the future of the series, a series that has a rich history and lexicon to draw from, the film makers decided to throw in a little of everything in one last blow out. Mutants are a dime a dozen so screw over character development to pack as many of Ďem in as possible. Too bad the first two films spent so much time on character.
Ratner, while not incompetent, really doesnít have any depth to his work. Singer had really infused the first two films with a real sense of emotional resonance. Ratner throws all that out the window to fit his overloaded plot into a brief 100 minute timeframe.
The real failing of X-Men the Last Stand isnít that itís a bad movie. Itís not. Itís fun and as far as popcorn flicks go it works. Instead, the film just doesnít live up to its legacy. The film could have been so much more. It could have resolved the conflicts these characters were dealing with. It could have opened up new questions. It could have spent more time telling its story. Instead, it cheaps out in almost every way. Dialogue, plot, character, even the action seems muted. The action is big, itís just too brief. X-Men the Last Stand is just not enough.
It's too bad the film makers didn't believe in the property enough to allow more stories to be told about these characters. Instead, we are reduced to a solo Wolverine vehicle.
Fans can rest easy that one of the best comic adaptations isnít ruined. Itís just not given the treatment it deserves. Guess we will have to wait for Superman to return for that.
There are two other big problems I had with the film but I canít discuss them without spoiling plot points. Donít read on if you donít want to know.
As part of Ratnerís inability to grasp the emotional and moral debates the first two films were dealing with, he has the X-Men betray their values near the end. The plot focuses on a cure for mutantism and the debate over this is muted to allow for the action. First disappointment.
However then the X-Men decide, without any moral questioning, to use the cure to attack the evil Brotherhood. This is a clear violation of what the X-Men stand for but the film makers donít seem to bother with the implications of this.
Then at the end of the film there are two teases. One before the credits that shows Magneto recovering from his ďcureĒ and another after showing Professor X healing from his death. Both these scenes rob the movie of the emotional power that the film could have had. It makes it seem that the power of cure and Phoenix are minimalized making the threat, the debate and everything about the film muted.
X-Men the Last Stand just isnít what it could have been.