X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand posterThere’s a lenghty conversation slash commentation going on over at Scooby Speak about the third film in the X-Men series. I dropped a comment there, but I wanted to expound more over here for a few reasons: I haven’t posted something in a few days, I want to drop spoilers and I’m going to try my hand at this review thing.

Of course, I can’t write a review for crap because I’m not ed-u-ma-cated enough to do that kind of thing. Nah, I think I’ll leave that to the experts like Ed and Jason (even though he still claims he’s not writing reviews and is no expert… feh). So, I’m just going to leave some thoughts on the flick and I am probably going to do the same for other flix I see this Summer. If anything, I’ll just capture my thoughts here and see how they change over time because unlike most of my music consumption, my taste and opinion does change a lot about flix.

I mentioned this was the third installment in the series and I believe that. The hype has been this is the last X-Men flick or that this was to be a trilogy and now it is over. Bollocks on that. This film has been way too successful already to not deserve a fourth film and no, I’m not going to count sure-thing Wolverine or rumored Magneto films as a fourth film for the series. BTW, I’d be very interested to see both made.

As far as this particular installment goes, it was better than the first, but not as good as the second. I echo a lot of what Ed says in the Scooby Speak comments (he should compile those thoughts as a post in his blog – UPDATE: He’s done just that) about the series. The first was dragged down by a lot of character development while the second was free of that as many of the same characters were still involved. This installment saw the introduction of numerous characters on both sides, necessitated by the killing or depowering of others. It took away from the movie being more action oriented like X2, but I thought it was pretty well handled overall.

The introduction/expansion of characters like Beast, Colossus and Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) were highs, Angel and Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox) mediums and the rest were lows. These characters were Juggernaut, Callisto, Arclight, Leech, Quill (credited as Kid Omega in IMDB) and Psylocke. I’m not going to go all fanboy and rant about all the differences with the comics here, but there were many and I do enjoy the comic versions better. For non-fanboys, i.e. normal people, who just watch the film for what it is, these characters were fine. I think the only thing that bothers me is when they change powers (Callisto, Psylocke) for a mutant or use the wrong name (Kid Omega instead of Quill). The fact that Juggernaut was portrayed as mutant — he’s really not — or that Leech wasn’t green don’t get me all in a tizzy.

It was nice to finally see all the original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, Angel) together in a movie, even if they were never all together at any time. The Kelsey Grammer casting as Beast was excellent. I was skeptical at first, but he pulled it off with true Hank McCoy style, especially with his signature line, “Oh my stars and garters.” Angel felt like a throw-in to me. His intro as a child was well done, but the rest was unmemorable.

Kitty Pryde is one of my favorite X-Men. Her treatments by Chris Claremont (who cameoed as the lawnmower guy in Jean’s childhood neighborhood) and more recently by Joss Whedon are great. In fact, the two main elements of this film’s plot are driven by those two writer’s best work (IMHO) in comics to date. It’s hard to really pick from among the very many for Claremont, but the Dark Phoenix story is pretty universally recognized as one of the best X-Men stories ever told. His Days of Future Past story is also featured in the film’s opening Danger Room sequence. Both Claremont stories are available in trade paperback form and are highly recommended. The mutant cure storyline was plucked from Whedon’s excellent first story arc in Astonishing X-Men.

Anyway, Kitty didn’t get a lot of good screen time, but there was enough there to capture some of the essence of her character. According to IMDB, the actress (Ellen Page) portraying her is 19, so I don’t have to feel dirty — okay, as dirty — thinking she was mad cute. She was a good choice because she looked a lot like the character. Kitty definitely had the best line of the film when she dropped a “dickhead” on Juggernaut, who did actually look like a… well, you know. I can only use that once for a PG-13 flick.

Madrox (Multiple Man) is a great character too. Anyone that has recently read Peter David’s Madrox mini-series or the new, on-going X-Factor series would agree. The movie barely scratched the surface of his power, which was too bad. They surely could have done more with him. The scene in the woods was a straight up rip-off of the terrorist camp raid in Patriot Games, without the mutant angle. Yawn.

I suppose the huge hot button for the fanboys is the changes made to the entire Dark Phoenix story. They ought to consider how a hard a story that would be to tell as a movie. It could easily stand alone as its own film, in order to do it justice, so I am happy they took it in a different direction instead of doing it slapdash.

As far as the rest, killing Xavier was brilliantly done and I wish they kept him dead (stay thru all the credits to see what I mean). BTW, how did his voice transfer to the new body with his conscious or are was that his telepathic voice, in which case you question how he’d still have the ability considering it is a different brain in that body too, but I digress. Killing Cyke was great too. As the quote in the first flick goes, he is “a dick” in the films. His true comic developed character never really came out in the films, so good riddance I say. Does that about cover any controversy? I’m sure it doesn’t come close for the fanboys, but I’m not reading that…

I really enjoyed both scenes at Jean Grey’s house, the Fastball Specials and the depowering of Mystique. I knew that was going to happen from the trailer, but I didn’t expect it at that point in the film. Oh, and Mags smooshing cruisers was pretty freakin cool. I have to say, this one had the highest body count of the three. You tend not to see this in the comics, even with Wolvie running wild, so yeah props on the realism there. This shouldn’t be a G.I.Joe cartoon or A-Team copter/Jeep crash walkaway.

I am mixed on the final fight, or so-called Last Stand. Beast kicked some serious ass and his fight stunts were almost on par with the X2 opening Nightcrawler scene (I wish he were back for X3). Arclight trashing the mutant cure weapons was cool. The symbolism of moving the Golden Gate was lost on me. Totally unnecessary, but great for film effects I guess. The Angel save of his Dad was lame, but heroic I suppose. I would rather have seen him beating down some other “evil” mutants with his wings first because his character almost served no purpose other than girl eye-candy.

Overall, it was a good take and I recommend it even if you aren’t into comic books. Like the first two, this one does a good job of relating the story to the masses. Oh… thankfully Halle Berry has said this is her last X-Men flick. Too bad she couldn’t vow that after X-Men. Swordfish aside, “Worst actress ever.”