Friday, May 26, 2006


Back in 2000, when X-Men was released, people were worried that one of the best comics with valid social concerns would come out looking like Supergirl. Of course they were excited, too. And that excitement is what will bring people into the theaters to see the third installation in the franchise. As they staved off mediocrity with the first two features, two films which resonated with contemporary social parallels and cultural concerns that made them very valid, the third installment perhaps prophetically titled X-Men: The Last Stand succumbs to the action fiasco that threatened to devour the first two.

What this film ends up doing is set the stage for an X-Men 4 where they won't have to pay so many big stars as, yes, the rumors are true, there are deaths. I won't say who, but in the trajectory of the film, they arrive entirely too soon to have any real emotional impact on us, leaving a mostly new stock of American Idol-esque X-teens. As can perhaps be gleaned by the comparison, none of these newbies have any sort of charisma. Charisma is the last thing on Brett Ratner's mind. Instead, it reads something like this: "Blow shit up! Explosions! Explosions!" And not in a good way. Previous destructive exploits yielded giddy pleasure where these just like fire for fire. If there's no plausibility in the film (and believe me, in this film it is a dirty word) than there are no consequences for any of the explosive action.

The film has entirely too many characters, and Ratner's claim to fame, the Rush Hour movies, are so duo heavy that an ensemble crew goes entirely to waste on him. None of the potentially fantastic new characters are given their moment in the sun - many of the figures on those poorly designed billboards which cover the city have 5 lines of dialogue, tops. Choosing to focus on Halle Berry doesn't help. Even when she's shooting bolts of lightning out of her fingertips, she's boring. Kelsey Gramer's Beast is also quite dull - again, because of this disdain for any plausible storylines. He is meant to be a political representative, but you never for a moment believe that a culture so mutant phobic would take advice from a bellowing furry blue beast.

The script is a succession of "wouldn't it be cool if..."s all threaded together with a very weak storyline. Everything moves along entirely too quickly and, similar to the would-be-critical plot of this year's Ultraviolet, the film never allows its audience to think about the terms of its claims. The premise is ponder worthy, surely. If there was a cure for difference, would you take it? But you can't see through the smoke of all the explosions long enough to think about much of anything. The rest is all parlor tricks. Those slight, cheap visual puns which make an audience snicker once, but leave a great lot to be desired. There's a scene where Magneto fantastically moves the Golden Gate bridge. When all is done, the couple in the car in front of him locks their doors. He shoots them a knowing look. The audience laughs. Snore.


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