Film Torments: X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
BEFORE the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, heroes were scattered all across the silver screen. We had some great films, such as Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, X-Men and X2. But then there’s the terrible; Hulk, Daredevil, Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four and so on. But my least favourite was always (and probably still is) X-Men: The Last Stand. The X-Men are my favourite superhero team; their characters are diverse, their storylines dramatic, and their first two films were excellent. So what better way to shit on their legacy than with this atrocity?
But before I go mad and explain what I hate about this film, let me go over some good points. Firstly, there’s nothing particularly wrong with any members of the cast. Hell, even Vinnie Jones’ acting isn’t that bad. Kelsey Grammar is spectacular as Beast, Famke Janssen does Dark Phoenix proud, Ellen Page is how I pictured Shadowcat.
It goes without saying that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are on top form as Professor X and Magneto. Secondly, with a large amount of money being pumped into this movie ($210 million to be exact), it’s also to be expected that the special effects will be great, which they are.
Now onto what this article is all about; the negative aspects. The first flaw of this movie is their choice of director. Bryan Singer dropped out production after stellar work on the first two movies and was replaced by Brett Ratner. Y’know, the guy who did Red Dragon? No? How about Horrible Bosses? Now you’ve got it. The result of which is a meaningless story, with not as much depth as it could have, held together with a load of action sequences.
It’s what I like the call ‘The Michael Bay effect’.
Yes, of course, obviously the other two X-Men had action sequences, but y’know what else the other X-Men films had? Depth! A riveting storyline! And actually they have some underlying issues embedded deep into the story that are touched upon throughout the movies. X-Men: The Last Stand certainly had potential to really hit the nail on the head regarding actual issues with their film.
Incorporating elements from the ‘Dark Phoenix’ saga and the storyline ‘Gifted’ (originally written by The Joss Whedon), the writers of this film had an opportunity to explore in greater depth what happens when someone who has been shunned all their life has the chance to become ‘normal’, and what happens when you take it upon yourself to control or suppress another.
X-Men: The Last Stand briefly touches on these issues. Very briefly.
But really these issues or events feel more like ways of transporting the film from one action sequence to another. Let’s be honest, the only reason they put Worthington Labs on Alcatraz island was to do that stunt with the Golden Gate bridge, and there’s no real depth to the fact there’s a cure, except for the fact that ‘there’s a cure’.
Take Rogue for instance; her character was built up over two films, only to be pushed to the side in favour of Kitty, and promptly depowered. Boom, done. That’s no way to treat either the fans, nor the character herself.
In fact, there’s a rather morbid tone to the film in general. It seems like the writer’s really tried to make this film as climactic as possible, either that or they just hate Mutants. Here’s a list of deaths/depowerments throughout the film:
– Professor X, disintegrated by Phoenix
– Cyclops, also disintegrated by Phoenix
– Psylocke, Arklight and Kid Omega all, you guessed it, disintegrated by Phoenix
– Jean Grey, resurrected and killed again by Wolverine
– Callisto, who is electrocuted by Storm
– Rogue, who voluntarily receives the cure
– Magneto, who’s given the cure by Beast
– Mystique, who’s shot with a cure gun
Now, I don’t know about you, but that seems like a quite a lot of characters to get rid of over the course of one film. The trigger-happy writers really were proclaiming this ‘the last stand’ when they blew Charles Xavier into 100 thousand tiny pieces. But really, this large amount of deaths is really alienating and lends this the argument that this film is more style than substance.
I was disappointed that these characters that I knew so well were being slaughtered like pawns on a chessboard. If there was more emphasis on the storyline (and if the deaths were relevant) I could let it slide, but most of the time there’s not a great deal of relevance.
Not only that, but the death of Professor X and the depowering of Magneto leads to some problems regarding sequels. Without much explanation (except a measly post-credit scene or two) the characters return just in time for X-Men: Days of Future Past. Thankfully, that film handily undid all the harm caused by Last Stand. But thanks in part to Last Stand, the X-Men universe became a sprawled mess of continuity errors; messed around and confusing.
Of course with all this change comes the introduction of new characters. High profile names like Leech, Juggernaut, Angel, Beast, Colossus and Shadowcat, along with a load of cameos from other, less know mutants. The plus of this is that fanboys like myself can sit there giggling with excitement; the downside is that character development is at an all time low.
We had glimpses of Colossus and Shadowcat in X2, in one of the best cameos of the film series. While Ellen Page’s character grows into herself, Colossus is left as a grunting strong man; visually great, but as 2D as a piece of paper. It’s a similar situation with Leech and Juggernaut, where the actors themselves do a fine job, but the characters are just not fleshed out enough.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the character of Angel. Advertised as one of the lead roles of the film (see the featured image for this article) but in fact he only gets around four minutes of screen time (I calculated it). This character is so wasted and so underused, especially considering how fantastic he actually looks. To be quite honest, Warren Worthington III could have not been in the movie at all and it wouldn’t have made great deal of difference.
So there we have it. X-Men: The Last Stand is in my opinion one of the worst Marvel films, when compared to how good its predecessors were and are. Yes, ok, perhaps X-Men Origins: Wolverine was technically worse, but Last Stand spreads the seeds for the X-Men franchise to spiral out of control. Bryan Singer; I’ll never forgive you for leaving this franchise to direct Superman Returns.
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