Occasionally, there are films that are ill-received by both critics and viewers alike that are unfairly judged at the time of their release. John Carpenter’s The Thing, which originally opened to scathing reviews, is now considered a horror classic. The Boondock Saints was also hated by professional critics, yet soon achieved a cult status and is now adored by a major fanbase worldwide. This causes me to wonder, is X-Men: The Last Stand actually a much better film than we all thought it was when we first saw it in 2006?
Simply put, no. X-Men: The Last Stand is still as bad as it has ever been. However, it does have a few redeeming qualities to it.
For those of you who have not seen it, X-Men: The Last Stand is the final film in the original X-Men “trilogy”, although I’m not sure if that word can be used anymore as there are several other films in this canon. In this film, Jean Grey is back, but as the Pheonix, her terrifying alter-ego that becomes the main antagonist in the movie. In addition to this, both the X-Men and Magneto’s Mutant Brotherhood have to go up against the makers of the mutant cure, a serum which does, well, exactly what it sounds like.
One of the best decisions made when making this film was the casting of Kelsey Grammer as Hank McCoy, or Beast. Hearing the voice responsible for Fraser Crane come out of a muscled-up version of Cookie Monster was easily the most entertaining part of the film. He did a great job, as well as the usual cast, given the material that they were working with. This was the first film in this series in which I was impressed with Halle Berry’s acting, although admittedly she didn’t have anywhere to go but up with her wooden performances in the previous films.
There were also some things taken from the comics that it was nice to finally see on the big screen. There are a few scenes in the film in which Colossus throws Wolverine at an enemy, a regular event in the comics. The human forces also finally wizen up in this installment and use non-metal weapons against Magneto, another page taken (heh?) from the source material.
The only other good things that I can say about this film are that it is, in fact, fun in many parts, and the end of the film’s conflict is a quite effective scene. Besides that, this film is quite disappointing. Several main characters are killed off in ways that seem almost dismissive considering their roles in the two previous films, and the new characters that are introduced aren’t nearly enough to fill those shoes. The plot, like the plots of all comic book films that try to cram too many villains/storylines into one film, feels crowded, and not enough time is given to each aspect of the story. The smooth feel of the last two films is gone, and instead we are given this hurried mess that just from one scene to the next without care. There is a scene where the bottom floor of a building where the cure is being distributed explodes, and then one or two scenes later we see people lined up outside of the same building to receive said cure. Their is very little logic in this film going from one scene to the next, and it really turns the film into this jumbled mess that it is.
The sets used also bring this film down. The film’s ending, set on Alcatraz Island, doesn’t feel like an island at all, but rather a movie set with mediocre lightning. There is a scene in the beginning of the film where Storm is flying and I could all but see the strings that she was being hoisted up by. There were many times that this lack of immersion reminded me of 1997’s Batman & Robin, although this film isn’t quite as painful to watch.
On top of these issues, the script of the movie is quite laughable, and horribly ridden with clichés. Even though I hadn’t seen this film in years, there were several times that I was able to audibly say the next line that the character on screen was about to say, simply because I knew which overused line would fit into this script. Some of these lines used include “No, it’s what you want” (in response to another character’s, “it’s what we want!”), “What have I done?”, and perhaps one of the most unforgivable uses of “NO!!!” in film history. Gone are the great one-on-one conversations between characters that made us question how we treat those different from ourselves that we found in the last two films, and instead we are treated to lines such as, “Who’s hiding, d*ckhead?” The characters in the movie also make decisions that either make no sense or seem very out-of-character, and I just wasn’t able to invest myself in their problems at all.
This movie isn’t quite as horrible as many fans make it out to be, but it’s still a piss-poor film. Even the fun parts aren’t enough to save the movie from it’s plot, direction, and script. The worst part about this movie is that it has to go up against the previous two films in the franchise, in particular X2, which is easily one of the greatest comic book films ever made. This film is a very disappointing end to the first run of X-Men films, and no re-evaluation will ever save it from the what has already been said by both fans and critics alike.