The Sunday Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

Sunday 28 May (2006)

x-men: the last stand

I'm not sure why I went to see this movie. I was distinctly unimpressed with the first two X-Men movies, and I wasn't expecting to like this one either. Perhaps it was the lure of the Mexican restaurant next door to the cinema, or even (at a stretch) a desire to see the Golden Gate Bridge being moved by Magneto. Oh well, at least the evening wasn't a total loss.

X-Men: The Last Stand takes place immediately after the second X-Men film, where Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) was killed in some melodramatic gesture that I can't really remember. We know this movie's going to be about her courtesy of some awkward flashbacks at the start of the movie (twenty years ago to ten years ago in the space of two minutes) where a pre-wheelchair Xavier (Patrick Stewart, who really should know better) and his then-friend 'Eric' (later known by the name Magneto, played by Ian McKellen who really should know better) go to Jean's house to convince her to come to his mutant academy. Anyway, she's dead now, and everyone has got over it apart from Cyclops who still seems to spend his time sitting down and looking into the middle distance trying not to cry. But wait! You guessed it, she's still alive.

So begins a rather uninteresting plot about various people trying to rescue and/or use Jean Grey, who is apparantly the only level-5 mutant around. I guess mutants share a scale with tornados or something, because this means she's the most powerful one of them all – and she's suddenly developed a split-personality: good Jean and bad Jean, the latter known as Phoenix – and guess which one is in control… Yeah.

Magneto seems to be number one on the nation's 'most wanted' list but no-one can find him, which is kind of ridiculous as he turns up all over the place, from Jean's house to a mutant rally. Anyway, he manages to convince her to join him as they march upon a research facility on Alcatraz Island where some boffins have created a magical cure-all for mutants. They don't like the cure, and we're supposed to care.

The plot is substantially flimsy, but it's a comic book/superhero adaptation so I guess you have to let that slide. The problem is that X-Men has always been about good mutants and bad mutants, and as a result totally fails to engage the audience. What do I care if some mutants are pissed off at humans and other mutants really aren't? It's their fight not mine. Sure, things would be bad for me if Magneto and his team managed to take over the world and wipe humans out, but that's never going to happen when Charles Xavier stands against him. It doesn't really work when the two leaders have a kind of respect for each other – they just don't want to kill each other, so their fight is kind of pointless.

Anyway, even if you let all the bullshit slide (including the ludicrous 'let's move the Golden Gate Bridge' scene – what, mutants can't use boats?) it's still a very bad film. The story is all over the place – so there's a cure, and some mutants want it and others don't. The point is supposed to be about the right to choose, and I guess Magneto's pissed because he used to be in a concentration camp and the government have weaponised the cure, but at the same time… he's a dangerous fucking terrorist and deserves what he gets. They all go off to the island to have a skirmish and then it's over and I don't care.

If you liked the first two movies in this 'trilogy' then no doubt you'll love this one too, it's more of the crappy same. If you didn't, then you won't. It's probably that simple. But it sucks regardless.

PS. As a side note, if they're selling this as a trilogy, and are calling the movie the last stand, they shouldn't end it on a 'to be continued' note. The final scene before the end credits screams 'more to come, muahahaha' and there's even a bit after the credits which seems to say 'don't worry, there is more to come, but we'll be prepared for it.' Jeez, I hope it's just a Flash Gordon style thing where there isn't actually a sequel.

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