The continuing chronicle of Wesley's quest to be published; plus comments on popular culture, family life, and whatever else falls out of his head.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Review: "X-Men: The Last Stand"

I never was any good at updating my journal, whether it was online or in my hand. So let’s just get right to it, okay?

The wife and I saw X3 last week. It was good. Entertaining. It wasn’t a better movie than the first two, by a fair margin, but it wasn’t the same kind of movie, either. The first two, directed by Bryan Singer (who left the franchise to work on another super-hero in Superman Returns), were action oriented, yes, but they were also darker, moodier character pieces about Wolverine and Rogue Hugh Jackman and Anna Paquin returning for the third installment) fitting in and finding their place in a world of outcasts. This latest episode was directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), and lack of polish and subtlety is noticeable, replaced by a relentless plot and so many new characters that none of them really stand out except Wolverine and Storm (Halle Barry).

The plot goes something like this: One the west coast, the industrialist father of a young mutant discovers a cure for mutantism in the blood of another mutant, one whose ability is to negate the powers of other mutants. On the east coast, Jean Grey (Famke Jannsen) has risen from the lake where she was drowned in X2: X-Men United. And Magneto (Ian McKellan) is up to his old tricks to unite the mutants of the world to overthrow humanity.

In its own way, X3 is more true to the spirit of the X-Men comics on which it is based than the previous two installments. There are more characters here than allow any of them to get any real moment to shine, and Wolverine has stolen every scene near him, so this time no other character even tries to steal the attention from him. Primary characters in the previous installments are used as plot points this time, and new characters with whom we are meant to empathize mean nothing because we barely know more than we would if we read their baseball cards.

Even without Singer at the helm, X-Men: The Last Stand acts as a capstone to an X-Men trilogy. By the end of the film, three major characters have been permanently depowered from the cure, and three others are dead.

Of course, as they say in the comics, dead never means dead.

X-Men: The Last Stand isn’t as quality as the first two, but it succeeds at what it tries to be. It’s a fun, over-the-top popcorn movie that heralds the official start to the summer movie season.


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