X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
A HESITANT THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
Learning how to keep an audience enthralled is one of the essential curves for good cinema. For me, it’s all about the characters. Always has been, always will be. And on many levels, this third installment in the X-Men movie series succeeds.
After having watched Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) die in the second film, I felt that the series directors, screenwriters, producers, etc., were beginning to understand what audiences need. But then we have Dr. Grey return in X-Men: The Last Stand. The emptiness of her passing was now miraculously refilled as we learn that Jean is not in control of her faculties. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) had previously held Jean’s mind in check by separating her destructive side from her more controllable one. Jean was (is) a level five mutant, one with unlimited power. But with that power comes a fractured mind. Something called “The Phoenix” (uh-boy, not that name again) lives inside Jean’s head and refuses to be reigned in. A path of destruction and death reels before Jean as The Phoenix part of her mind takes control.
Against this we have the discovery (by humans, of course) of a “cure” for the mutant gene. This cure lives (naturally) inside the body of a little mutant boy who’s kept out of harms way at a new facility that rests on old Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.
Magneto (Ian McKellen) sees this as a threat to everything he stands for. It’s only a matter of time, he believes, until the government makes it mandatory for all mutants to be “cured” of their “disease”.
A personal, social, governmental, and worldwide movement begins on three fronts. First is Magneto’s group of mutants who want this “cure” threat destroyed before it falls into the wrong hands. Secondly, we have the government who says that the vaccinations are strictly voluntary and want to protect the child/cure. And in-between them we have the X-Men. Battling amongst themselves as much as any external threats, we begin to see the extreme price the X-Men are willing to pay in order for peace.
New mutants abound in this third film. First, we have something called “The Beast” (Kelsey Grammer), a blue cowardly lion with anger management issues that acts as a Presidential aide between mutants and humans. I don’t know why, but I half expected to see Lilith from Cheers come stomping in and pull him out of a scene by his ear. Go figure. Secondly, we have The Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones), a bulky …um …guy who gets rolling and can’t be stopped. And finally, we see Angel (Ben Foster), a winged boy whose inability to accept the “cure” ends up saving someone very close to him.
Although this film is subtitled “The Last Stand”, I seriously doubt if it’ll be “The Last Film.” An end scene with a “cured” Magneto opens up an entirely new miasma of questions: Does the cure really work? Or is Magneto immune? Will mutants need to be re-vaccinated every so often? I feel pretty confident that X-Men movie aficionados haven’t seen the last of Wolverine or Storm.