X-Men: The Last Stand
written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn
directed by Brett Ratner
starring Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen and a whole lotta mutants including way too much Angel
review by Stephen Notley
I was well warned that X-Men: The Last Stand was a shit-bad movie. I'd been told with venom that it sucked. I didn't care. I viewed it just as I would a pile of trash with fifty bucks in it. Is it trash? Sure. But I'm willing to rummage through that pile of trash for the small pleasures of pulling out even a couple of tens or fives, or maybe even a twenty. This was to be my philosophy for X-M:tLS. I was willing to accept any half-way cool moments that came along, and I wasn't going to get angry about the stuff that was stupid. There was a pleasant sheen of indifference to my reactions.
Turns out that's the excellent way to see this movie. Emotional disengagement? You got it. Director Brett Ratner winks and gives the thumbs-up. We're just gonna have some stuff explode, and here's some more Wolverine while you're at it. Eat your popcorn.
As far as actually caring about anything, or being swept away by the people and the situations they're in, not so much. There are barely any relationships in the movie. Quite the opposite. If there's anything that ties this movie together, it's faithlessness. Don't believe me? Let's see:
1) Rogue, frustrated over her uncontrolled powers, lashes out at her boyfriend Bobby (Iceman), who
2) turns around and goes on an ice-skating date with Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat, Sprite, Ariel, whatever) right in front of Rogue who then
3) splits, leaving the mansion, the X-Men, and the movie all in a stroke. Meanwhile, Magneto
4) abandons Mystique when she (spoiler) loses her powers, which she follows up by
5) ratting out Magneto. Then we've got Jean Grey (Marvel Girl, Phoenix) who
6) vaporizes her true love,
7) makes out with Wolverine first thing on regaining consciousness,
8) murders some more people, including some putatively close to her, before finally wrapping up her storyline by
9) getting stabbed.
Everywhere you look in this movie people are breaking trusts, forswearing oaths, letting the people they care about down. And, of course, this is all taking place in the context of a grand conflict in which humans fear mutants and mutants lack faith in humanity. I'd almost think it was a theme if it added up to anything.
But no. It's a pile of stuff. Lots of stuff, to be sure. Allowed to pick between three things done well and ten things done not so well, the filmmakers emphatically fall on the ten things done not so well end of the teeter-totter. They crammed it all in, even if they had no idea how to make any of it work. Colossus with four words of dialogue? The Sentinels as a head prop and a pair of headlights? Magneto not just dropping the bridge on the drug base rather than landing outside it for a big pointless battle? It never occurring to anybody to use the magical no-mutant cure on the megadangerous superredhead? Some troglodytic slab of beef from the WWF not being cast as Juggernaut? Et cetera? Et cetera? Et frickin' cetera? Grist for the mill and oh the mill will grind, fans and haters digesting this movie for years, endless things to complain about and say how they'd do better.
Still, popcorn moments. Magneto taking apart the prisoner convoy was kickass. Jean and Wolvie making out, repellent as it was in character and thematic terms, was still kinda hot. I admit to injokingly smirking at "I'm Juggernaut, bitch". Beast busting out was fun for a couple of incoherent moments. Hell, I even enjoyed yelling and figuratively throwing an empty popcorn container at the screen to decry yet another needless Angel sighting. I guess what I'm trying to say it's that it's dumb but I had a non-grumpy time at it.