"Ratner haters and comic book purists should probably stay home"
Despite everyone's worst fears that director Brett Ratner would completely fuck up the X-MEN franchise after taking the reigns from Bryan Singer, Ratner has managed to deliver an entertaining superhero action film. Would Singer have done it better? probably. But Ratner's contribution doesn't tarnish the series - even if fans of the X-MEN comics will undoubtedly be disappointed by a film that probably couldn't live up to all of their expectations anyway.However, having never read an X-MEN comic book in my life, all I know about these characters is what the movies have shown me. And while THE LAST STAND tries to give its characters equal time to shine, even a casual fan like myself can't help but feel that a little more character development would have fleshed the film out considerably.
Nevertheless, what the film lacks in character arcs, it makes up for with big visuals and slick action sequences. And although the plot almost feels like X-MEN lite at times, It still manages to include relevant social commentary into the proceedings and present its issues with a serious tone.
In this third (and hardly the final) installment, the X-Men are still in mourning after the loss of team member Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). However, they are stunned to find that Jean has returned with greater powers and a previously unseen dark side, referring to herself now as The Phoenix. While Doctor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) sees her new powers as a threat that must be carefully controlled, his nemesis, Magneto (Ian Mckellan), believes that Jean's power is the ultimate weapon against the non-mutant humans, who have developed a weaponized "cure" that can strip a mutant of their powers and make them "normal" in a matter of seconds.
THE LAST STAND raises more interesting questions about "mutant rights", and even explores the desires of some mutants to willingly recieve the cure. One such mutant is Rogue (Anna Paquin), who struggles with the decision to recieve the cure so that she can touch other people, like boyfriend Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), without sucking the life out of them.
It's these little touches of internal struggle and social commentary that elevate THE LAST STAND above your run-of-the-mill popcorn superhero flick (like the not-so-FANTASTIC 4). Alas, there's just not enough of it for the film to reach the level of greatness it could have attained. Stil, Ratner and company have managed to produce a fun superhero saga that only occasionally suffers from shallow plot development or uneven pacing. While it may not adhere to the source material as closely as the fans might like, it never disrespects its characters or themes either.Taken as a whole, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND is just what movie fans need to kick-start the summer. It's a fun superhero popcorn movie that delivers nearly two hours of solid entertainment. Even if Halle Berry does talk more in this one than the other two combined.