Heraldry, Pt 3: Charges
Designing New Characters
July, 2006: Mischief
X-Men III: The Last StandMovie Review
by Andrea Tan
Movie: X-Men III: The Last Stand
Genre: Sci-fi, action, drama
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Romijn, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Ellen Page, Dania Ramirez, Ben Foster, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Vinnie Jones, Daniel Cudmore, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Josef Sommer, Michael Murphy
Director: Brett Ratner
Contrary to what the title may suggest, X-Men III: The Last Stand is not the last film of this popular comic-to-screen franchise. Indeed, toward the end of the movie, it seems like the rise of a new beginning for the next generation of mutants--something all X-Men fans can anxiously look forward to in the following installment.
After two previous movies, I don't think there's a need to explain the background story and main characters of X-Men. Certain supporting characters like Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) in the last film have been elevated into a more visible role in The Last Stand, and new faces from the cult comic are introduced, like Beast (Kelsey Grammer), Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones,) and Angel (Ben Foster), plus a glimpse of a sentinel in the opening scenes.
In The Last Stand, human scientists have created a "cure" for mutancy that can surpress the mutant gene permanently. This news divided the mutants society: the ones against it because they don't perceive their mutation as a disease, and the ones who find it as hope to get rid of the "burden" and be normal human again.
The "cure" has given Magneto (Ian McKellen) more reasons to forge ahead in the war against humankind and the mutants who try to stop them. With Pyro (Aaron Stanford) on his side, Magneto has rounded up more recruits for his Brotherhood of Mutants to take agressive action. Always the peacemaker, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his X-Men attempts a more diplomatic approach on the matter--that is, until Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) returned from the dead.
Jean Grey is no longer the kind, rational mutant she used to be. She returned as Phoenix, her alter ego, with far stronger and limitless powers than any mutants. No one--not even with all the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants combined--can stop her.
Well, there's a lot going on in The Last Stand: the whole "cure" controversy, the rise and rage of Phoenix, minor and major character developments and the send-offs of certain key characters to make way for a new generation of mutants. This may seem messy or too condensed to some people but I don't think it ruined the plot in any way. The Last Stand really delivers the story--effects and all--well in a big way, despite the change of director (Brett Ratner replaced Brian Singer, who jumped ship to do Superman Returns, which also opens this summer).
For die-hard fans of X-Men, they can either love or hate The Last Stand. This film may have borrowed a few aspects from the Dark Phoenix saga in the comics, but a lot of changes have been done to the Jean Grey/Phoenix tale here. This is just one of the many alterations done to fit into The Last Stand. I am a big fan of X-Men myself but I think, to be fair, this film should be judged according to the storyline from its previous film installments and not based on the comic series, which is of a different format altogether.
Though I am saddened by the outcomes of certain characters (yeah, I cried at one point), but I can see that this may not be a bad thing. First big hint is the well-developed introduction of Warren Worthington III, or Angel. He may not have much screen time in the film but it's a sign that one can expect to see more of him in the following installment. The same goes for Daniel Cudmore's Peter Rasputin/Colossus, of course... for, um, many--ahem--reasons.
I do enjoy the fact that Kelsey Grammer did a great job transforming himself from the neurotic Dr. Frasier Crane to the tough blue "furball" of the non-Smurf variety, Dr. Hank "Beast" McCoy. Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character takes a step back to let other characters like Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) shine in The Last Stand. But that doesn't mean scenes of Logan/Wolverine are less worthy. He still shows the reason why people love the X-Men in his scenes.
Halle Berry's Storm gets a boost in character development this time, taking the lead in most scenes. (Though I still think Berry was miscast for the role. I preferred someone like Angela Bassett, who has a commanding presence, to carry a strong character like Ororo Munroe/Storm.)
However, I am a bit peeved that Anna Paquin's Rogue and Rebecca Romijn's Mystique get pushed to the sidelines this time around. Anyway, nevermind that. I'm sure both characters will get developed further in the next one since the ending of The Last Stand did hint something interesting to look forward to.
As for action sequences and special effects, The Last Stand sure makes such impressive grandeur to visually feast the eyes. Obviously, this made the movie more entertaining. Don't ask me which X-Men movie I like better. I love all of them--mostly for the joy of seeing these mutant characters come to live on-screen.
Speaking of joy, I hope the character Jubilation Lee/Jubilee will finally get developed into a more visible role than the minor appearances she did in all the three films to-date. And it would be nice to see Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler again too.
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