A Film Review By Jason L. King
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romaijn
Directed By: Brett “Rush Hour” Ratner
Rated: PG-13 for Violence and epic battle sequences
Review Posted: 5/27/06
Final Grade: You watch those nature documentaries on the cable? You see the one about lions? You got this lion. He’s the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He’s laying under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He’s so big, it’s so hot. He doesn’t want to move. Now the little lions come, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn’t do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. They start to move in. The jackals; hyenas. They’re barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that’s in his domain. They do this, then they get closer and closer, bolder and bolder. Till one day, that lion gets up and tears the shit out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals, who he is. cp.gif” />
Summertime is officially here. Outside the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the humidity in my neck of the woods is rising. For us people trapped in the Midwest that means escape the heat by heading to the theaters. Lucky for us when the heat index rises, Hollywood starts kicking out the summer blockbusters, giving us plenty of opportunity to cheer on some of our favorite big budget, action superheroes in the comfort of the air conditioned theater.
Memorial Day weekend launched the debut of the third and supposed final chapter in the X-Men series with X-Men: The Last Stand. The X-Men franchise was first brought to life just six years ago by the creative genius of director Bryan Singer, who is now attempting to breathe life into the what movie executives were beginning to think was a doomed Superman project. With Singer’s departure to take on the daunting task of recreating the “man of steel” Fox turned the reigns over to Brett “Rush Hour” Ratner. Ratner’s previous works include Red Dragon, 2 Rush hour films (with a 3rd on the way) and The Family Man. Was Fox out of their mind for giving the greenlight to a man who’s biggest achievement was tricking audiences into watching the exact same film twice (Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2)?
X-Men: The Last Stand picks up further on down the road. The X-Men are a little older, a little wiser, and they have a new “old friend” return who grows strange blue hair in weird places (Beast played by Fraiser star Kelsey Grammer)! Still haunted by the death of the fallen comrade, Jean Grey, The X-men continue to fight Magneto and his evil forces in the ongoing mutant power struggle. But when Jean Grey is resurrected and unable to control her own powers, Magneto decides to use her as his secret weapon against the humans who believe they have found a “cure” for the mutant gene.
All in all, Ratner does a decent job with keeping the franchise going, however you can tell that Singer left the project. Try as he may, the film lacks the “dark” aspect that Singer created. Ratner’s version seems to be a brighter, happier tale despite Magneto’s reign of impending doom. Make no mistake, the film is still a visual delight, and still keeps a lot of the same spirit that the other films had, only this time the “spirit” feels more generic and a copy cat of Singer than anything else. Part of this may be attributed to a musical score that seemed far more corny and ‘video game” like than the previous film’s scores.
The film is full of ridiculous continuity errors, including a strange transformation between day light and the pitch blackness of night in a matter of seconds for no reason other than night “looked cooler.” (For you geeks- No the night was not brought on by Storm, and yes I am sure- Halle Berry would have had the writers write in a special line of dialog announcing her ability to control night and day if it was her!- not to mention the fact that they weren’t there yet) Also continuity freaks could spend hours laughing at the way Logan’s (aka Wolverine) sideburns differ in lengths a great deal in just a matter of seconds, and the way his shirt regenerates along with the rest of his body.
Ratner’s epic story also falls victim of trying to be too much in too short of a time span. He tries to take on way too much, bringing in a pile of new characters with little to no background as well as tries to develop the existing ones. Much of this can be seen in the ways he suddenly tosses at us Juggernaut and a whole pile of tattooed and pierced weirdo mutants. (Apparently the way to tell if a mutant is good or bad is just to look if they have a tattoo or a piercing.) At the same time he tries to give Storm (Halle Berry) more screen time and trying to make Pyro (aka Magneto’s little b_tch) a threatening menace. He’s got too much going on, and not enough storyline to combine them all into one all encompassing coherent plot.
Where the tale does go right is a stellar returning cast with Hugh Jackman leading the way once again as Wolverine. Jackman has the character down perfectly by now and is the reason this franchise is as great as it is. Despite nerds crying that Storm is the true leader of the X-Men, fans of the films and some of those very same comic book geeks will say that Wolverine is really what the crowds want to see. Arch rival Magneto (Ian McKellen) is also once again the perfect nemesis making the film a joy to watch. However the real evil super villain in this project is Halle Berry, whom allegedly demanded big bucks and more of a story line for her character, Storm. I used to be able to ignore Storm, the character who’s job is to fly the X-Wing and Roll her eyes, but Ratner builds a Story around her. I could make one other evil Storm comment, but it would be a spoiler. (Check out Box Office Backtalk for that (see how shameless I am with plugs for this site?)) It’s really sad to see that much of the film be filled with her terribly delivered dialog and arrogant over acting. I stand by my claim that any black woman in a blond wig (or Martin Lawrence in drag) could play Storm just as well or better.
Summing the film up, X-Men isn’t a bad movie. In fact as far as blockbusters go, it is enjoyable. The problem is it is hands down, by far the weakest film in the entire franchise, and it’s sad to see the film fizzle out on a such a down note. It just “feels” like a departure from the other films, a little less focused and a lot more about cramming everything Singer missed into one final battle scene. Check out X-Men once the crowds die down, but don’t go in expecting X-Men: The Last Stand to be the film you’ve been waiting for. You’ll end up being disappointed.