Reviews & Previews - X-Men: The Last Stand

Posted on Sunday, June 04, 2006 at 06:00 PM

X-Men: The Last Stand

By: S. Tran

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellan, Famke Janssen
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and language.

Action Evolved

In the past I have reviewed other films based on comic books (or graphic novels for you fan-boys) such as The Fantastic Four and V for Vendetta. Neither one of these films, or the other countless comic book adaptations out there managed to bring the qualities that made them successful comic books to the bring screen. There is always something missing in those other movies, whether it be a lack of action, a lack of heart or a lack of a coherent story (or any real story for that matter).

The X-Men and Spiderman franchises are probably the best of the breed, partly because the directors and producers understand and respect the source material and make a real attempt to stay true to it. After all, there is a reason these comics have been selling for so long. Too often directors try to "re-imagine" the material and create garbage that alienates the hardcore fans and confuses those unfamiliar with the characters. They take these liberties because they assume that they are only messing with comic books so who cares. But that "who cares" attitude shows in the final product.

Give credit to the powers that be behind X-Men for bringing the comic book to life in a great action filled movie supported by a good story. The X-Men series presents an added element of difficulty for a filmmaker because issues like prejudice and bigotry are central to the storylines. When one of your main characters is a holocaust survivor you've got more to deal with than spandex and ass kicking.

This third installment picks up where the second film left off. Jean Grey (Janssen) has died and the other heroes are left to pick up the pieces. Things get complicated though when a "cure" for the mutant gene is created which turns all mutants into normal humans. Various characters in the story become conflicted about whether their powers are worth the sacrifices they must make. McKellan returns as Magneto who harbours no conflict about the issue and sets out to destroy the "cure" which he sees as a threat to his race (mutants).

Further adding to the mayhem about to be unleashed is the return of Jean Grey who has not only survived but is even more powerful than before. If you are a fan then you already understand what happened. For the uninitiated the movie explains things well and you should be able to keep up. There's a little less humour in the movie than the first two but the characters are more familiar so it doesn't feel like a big loss.

All the main characters return and they all do a good job. Jackman and Janssen are given the most screen time here, probably because Wolverine is rumoured to be getting his own spin-off. The other characters have less to do in this movie but we do see more of the younger characters as they grow into their powers and are brought into the fight (both figuratively and literally) for mutant rights.

Ratner's direction is solid and he balances out the "talky" parts with plenty of action. After all what good are those claws if all you're going to do is sit around talking about your feelings. I also appreciated how Ratner avoided getting the camera too close to the action. When you have people with incredible powers blasting away at each other the best bet is to hang back a bit to take in the big picture which Ratner does here. He also makes the most of the big budget and delivers on the special effects front.

The movie isn't perfect and at 104 minutes actually feels pretty short. I would have appreciated more time devoted to some of the minor characters in the movie and maybe a longer final battle but it's a minor complaint. This is the first really good action film of the year and worth the money to see it on the big screen.


4 out of 5 stars.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to