X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – Directed by Brett Ratner – Starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Stan Lee, Daniel Cudmore, Eric Dane, Patrick Stewart, and R. Lee Ermey.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND is a movie that’s half-okay and half-stupid, and the end result is a movie that I just wanted to end during the entire second half. There are times when THE LAST STAND is so laughably bad that you wonder how anyone could let it out the door, but for the most part, it’s nothing more than a disappointing movie. It’s not the worst movie ever made, but it’s just so incoherently put together that it gives off the vibe of people making it up as they went along.
Bryan Singer is out of the director’s chair and Brett Ratner is in, and it’s easy to lay the blame for LAST STAND at Ratner’s feet because he’s not half the director Singer is, but let’s be clear, Singer left LAST STAND so he could go work on Superman Returns, which is even worse than LAST STAND.
To give LAST STAND its due, the first half of the film isn’t really all that bad. It’s certainly faint praise to say, “Hey, it really is mediocre!” but this movie needs all the help it can get. LAST STAND opens with Scott Summers (James Marsden) still being all mopey and self-pitying about Jean Grey’s death. He’s shirking his duties as instructor, which means Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has to fill in during a Danger Room sequence with Storm (Halle Berry), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). After a “Days of Future Past” scenario, Cyclops takes off to find Jean back at Alkali Lake.
He finds her, they make out, and she kills him.
Yup, another X-MEN movie, another waste of James Marsden.
Logan and Storm get to Alkali Lake and bring her home, where she wakes up as the Phoenix.
Yeah, so, about that. Turns out Jean (Famke Janssen) has always had this really powerful dark aspect of her persona and Xavier put a whole mess of psychic blocks in her head to create a split personality. It’s sort of amazing how much dumb sh*t this insipid script makes these good actors say. Logan gets all uppity with Xavier (Patrick Stewart), but then Phoenix Jean wakes up so they can dry hump a bit before Logan realizes something is wrong. So she slams him against the wall with the power of her brain and exits the mansion.
She heads to her parent’s house, where Xavier and Magneto (Ian McKellan) try to convince her to come to their side. Xavier does his whole, “I can help you” bit while Mags is all, “I want you to be what you are” and Phoenix Jean can’t handle any of this so she levitates the house and then kills Xavier.
Yeah. She kills Xavier. That means in the first hour of the film, Jean Grey manages to kill the two most important men in her life, and the question I have is, Why?
There’s an incredibly strong sense of childishness in Ratner’s film, as if the film is doing everything it can to wipe out Singer’s work. Just look at what Ratner does to some of Singer’s primary players:
Rogue: Checks out halfway through the film so she can go get the Cure, a shot that stops you from being a mutant.
Jean: Murders Husband. Murders mentor. Then turns into a mass murderer. And then gets killed.
Bobby: Goes from being the decent boyfriend to scamming on Kitty Pryde behind his girlfriend’s back.
Mystique: De-powered by the Cure, and left behind by Magneto.
Nightcrawler: Doesn’t Appear.
Stryker: Doesn’t Appear.
Magneto: De-powered by the Cure.
There’s also way too many new characters introduced in the third film: Angel (Ben Foster), Kitty, Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones), Beast (Kelsey Grammer), and a bunch of new Brotherhood members. This is the third film in this trilogy – I’m supposed to care about nearly everyone at this point, and I don’t. Up until Xavier’s funeral, though, this film isn’t awful, and Storm’s eulogy is actually pretty moving. I don’t know why they had Wolverine stand off to the side like he’s still not 100% a part of Xavier’s school because, as is rightly pointed out later in the film, Logan has been completely domesticated. The real problem is what comes after the eulogy, when the film resorts to a bunch of silly fights between people who’ve gotten a lot dumber between movies.
Hiring Ratner as a director could have worked if the film had been tailored to his strengths (childish buddy comedies, I guess) but clearly he’s not a guy who can handle intelligence or philosophy very well and so asking him to take over for Bryan Singer and not giving him the time to come up with a suitable script doomed LAST STAND right from the start.
THE LAST STAND ends up being not a very good movie. There’s some interesting philosophy here if you want to look for it (and Ratner doesn’t), but it’s an uneven, uninteresting film. There’s so many subplots haphazardly tossed against the wall that the film never develops a clear narrative. I’ll say this for LAST STAND, too – it’s not a fun movie to write about. When I was watching it, I just wanted it to be over.
And now that I’m writing about it, I just want this to be over with, too.