X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Ben Foster, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart
Directed by: Brett Ratner
I’ve been reading the X-Men going on 18 years now. The fandom died down a bit a few years ago, but the picked up again once Joss Whedon started writing Astonishing X-Men. I don’t know if many can imagine what it’s like to follow something every month for most of your life and then have a movie like this come along, since I can’t think of anything else that continues along for that long. Books don’t. TV shows don’t. Just comics.
Not that it has made me an impossible-to-please obsessive when it comes to X-Men movies. I recognise that changes need to be made in order to adapt one medium to another and merge 45 years of history into 3 movies. I accepted the changes made by Bryan Singer and company in the first two films, and found them to be enjoyable movies, faithful to the spirit of the comics. Which proved it possible to make good-to-great movies about the X-Men, and, as X2 was a better film than X-Men, it proved that even better films were to come.
Unfortunately, as time progressed, the principles involved in the original two films became less and less enthusiastic with the franchise. Singer left to go film Superman Returns, Halle Berry begged off the film, disappointed with Storm’s lack of involvement in the series (she changed her mind after getting assurances that her role would increase), James Marsden followed Singer and wanted out of his contract (but was unable to do so), Alan Cumming chose not to return as Nightcrawler. Directors were named and replaced, and writers kept piling up. As the film progressed, things didn’t look positive for the second sequel, and I felt the same trepidation toward seeing it that I had six years ago before the release of the first film.
Because of these issues, The Last Stand was necessary going to be a difficult film to make. The lack of interest in most of the cast to continue the series (save Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen, both of whom are hoping to continue their characters in spin-off films) meant that this looked to be the final film in the franchise. But, the previous two films left two major storylines dangling that each required their own film– the final battle between the X-Men and Magneto over the relationship between mutants and humans, and the cinematic telling of the greatest X-Men story of all-time, The Dark Phoenix Saga (set up in X2: X-Men United). Perhaps an incredibly talented storyteller could combine the two into one film, coaxing disinterested actors into giving it one last go. We’ll never know, because this one was directed Brett Ratner, the legendary genius behind Rush Hour 1 and 2.
I held out hope that perhaps Ratner had a good film in him, since the material is so strong. Foolish, foolish hope. It is possible that Ratner peaked with Money Talks. Cause I HATED this movie. HATED. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATED. It enraged me. It insulted me. It affected my mood afterward, and my ability to sleep.
Major reasons for my utter, complete, and deep-felt hatred of this movie are incredible spoiler-filled, so I can’t get into them here. Luckily, the movie is so terrible that I can talk about its myriad of flaws without getting into spoilers. Ratner exhibits the attention span of gnat with this film, bouncing from scene to scene with the speed of a music video throughout. Major moments are given no weight or resonance, as both would require the scene to play out for more than the 52 seconds allotted. Character development is non-existent. For the most part, the actors are disengaged and disinterested. New characters function merely as gimmicks and plot contrivances. The dialogue is juvenile, the action is unimaginative, and the plot simply doesn’t work.
If you love big, dumb action movies, then you should get some enjoyment out of the movie. The frenetic editing and big explosions certainly don’t make the film boring. Also, Jackman still provides a great Wolverine (although the dialogue makes him less great this time around) and McKellen is solid as usual. Finally, on the positive side, there were a couple of fun geek-out moments.
But if you are a fan of these characters, I honestly can’t see how you can be anything but insulted by how they are presented and treated. Which leads me to the question of whether this is the worst comic book movie I’ve seen. I’ll have to allow that Batman & Robin was worse, but I hate The Last Stand more. It exhibits no understanding of the characters, or why they work, and only a rudimentary understanding of the basics of storytelling for the cinematic medium. The movie is a spit in the face for anyone who ever invested time or passion into the X-Men and their universe, and if I ever ran into Brett Ratner, I think I’d have to kick him in the nuts… then ask him if he could grow them back.