Reviewed by John Hussey
After the shitty introduction of X-Men it seemed like the film franchise was doomed from the start, with Bryan Singer having no real clue how to handle these iconic comic-book characters. But then he managed to redeem himself for X-Men 2 in which the problems of the first film were rectified and the franchise was allowed to move forward in a positive light. And then X-Men: The Last Stand happened.
Where do I stand with this film? Do I call it out on being a fucking mess of a film, in which it freely uses and misuses many iconic characters, as well as trying to accomplish way to much in one sitting? Or do I give the film a gentle clap of the hand due to the fact that the film at least tried to conclude an already mixed-bag adaption of the X-Men franchise? Whatever the case it’s hard to look at the pros without the many cons this sequel has to offer, which by the end leaves this series on near untouchable grounds, which took many years to rectify, and even then 20th Century Fox still found ways to fuck it up along the way.
Starting off I have to address the Elephant in the room, i.e. the continuous cringe-worthy relationship between Wolverine (reprised by Hugh Jackman) and Jean Grey (reprised by Famke Janssen). What can I fucking say at this point that I haven’t already addressed within my previous two reviews. There’s no fucking chemistry, and if there is any I really don’t see how it was fucking conceived because neither films by that point gave time to allow this to flourish. Instead it is left up to the imagination (upload your fan-fiction kids because I can guarantee it’ll explain their love interest a hell of a lot better than any fucking Hollywood screen-writer).
It’s almost like they don’t care, couldn’t be arsed to put in the effort, or just settled with the lazy, bullshit excuse, “Oh, they have a relationship in the comics, so, that’s all the information you need.” [Insert smug, arrogant, twat face here.] And the survey say, “Fuck off Hollywood and you’re lazy-arse excuses and piss-poor attempts at adapting extraordinary material that other extraordinary, talented people created, and you want to shit over because you no longer have that special word, imagination, you absolute tits!”
I suppose I can’t talk. I’m just a nobody (in Hollywood’s eye’s that is) who sits in front of his laptop and types random shit about the media. But, I do have a very clear voice and a very clear understanding of the media industry and how it works, so that’s why my words can be taken a little bit more seriously than a random troll who lingers around the same lonely YouTube comment section day in, day out, in order to get their daily kicks. I at least try to defend my accusations (and most importantly) my opinions with actual reasoning, so my random outbursts aren’t just random. They serve an actual purpose.
Back to the review.
What I was trying to get at is the X-Men film franchise at this point was trying so desperately to stand on the shoulders of this important love-triangle but failed to realise that it wouldn’t work without real groundwork, i.e. an organic development which felt real, and we as the audience could embrace ourselves with. Instead I’m simply left banging my face against the screen, screaming under my breath for Hollywood to stop teasing me with their pathetic games of torture, in which I’m left to believe that they can’t adapt comic-books properly and instead wish to remain in the same hellish limbo, forever to walk in the firing line of angry nerds as they grow further annoyed by their favourite character’s and arcs being misrepresented.
X-Men: The Last Stand sadly clings at this important plot-point like we’re supposed to give a damn, but as I keep trying to explain there’s no fucking reason to, thus leaves a lot of this film in a rather grey area in which I am forced to gloss over it as I pretend to make out I give a shit, when in fact I’m bitterly laughing at how fucking pathetic the screenplay is. I can’t really knock the actors, because once again their left to take the flack. But at least they try (unlike Hollywood, you miserable cunt).
It’s unfortunate though that poor Jackman doesn’t know where he stands with these films. Does he shine and become the dominate figure at the centre of the stage, handled with great care, and given some interesting material to progress his own interpretation of Wolverine. In X-Men 2‘s case, yes, but as for this sequel all that hard work can go fuck itself because a new man’s at the helm, in the form of Brett Ratner. Now give the guy some credit, he’s clearly a man with talent. He directed the Rush Hour films for fuck-sake, and without a doubt those films are the dogs-bollocks.
However, it’s clear he’s not gifted when it comes to directing an X-Men movie. But that’s unjustly because X-Men: The Last Stand clearly looks better than the previous two films combined (which I suppose isn’t saying much when only one of those films was actually any good, so I should rephrase that and say it looks better than X-Men 2). The franchise no longer feels small and starts to feel like a major blockbuster hit that we should give a toss about. But what let’s this sequel down is the fucking narrative.
Literally I have no idea what was going through the screen-writer’s heads when penning this epic instalment but clearly, “Kill all the characters, make all the characters lose their powers, and generally misuse all of the characters,” were three demonic phrases that constantly swept around in the subconscious. What were they fucking thinking? I know the film had “The Last Stand” in the title but did they really have to go all out with that fucking phrase? By the end of the film you literally feel like this is the last instalment because you have no fucking idea where they can go with the series after this. No wonder they chose the desperate route of telling origin stories, rebooting the franchise, and then rewriting the franchise by means of time travel (in that precise order no less).
It was certainly clear from the first film that 20th Century Fox, and their warped brigade, had no understanding of the X-Men characters and it really does show within these three films. Though, to be fair, at least some of them have had some clear development but it is literally the bare minimum. Cyclops was certainly a character that I can honestly say disappointed me because they got him completely wrong. From making him Wolverine’s pissy rival, to shoving him in the corner, to making him a whiny little bitch, these film’s really need to be sent to Hell for their crimes against the word adaption.
Oh no, Cyclops is going Emo because the love of his life has died (even though they too had no fucking chemistry, but sure movie, we will happily go along with your poisonous lies, not) and so now he’s being an anti-social arsehole, thus discarded his title as leader of the X-Men, and Professor Xavier’s successor (because like that was ever going to happen in this version of history). And if that wasn’t insulting enough, he is then killed off by Jean in order to establish she’s now, THE DARK PHOENIX!!
The funny thing is Singer apparently hadn’t planned any ideas for the third instalment, and yet it’s fucking obvious that Jean was having visions about becoming the Dark Phoenix throughout X-Men 2 (if the glowing red eyes wasn’t a big giveaway). I suppose this would be a good development for the character as up to that point she didn’t really have one. All she seemed to be there for was for Wolverine and Cyclops to have a boning competition over her. Sadly turning evil doesn’t make her character any more interesting, specifically because Janssen is really bland in the role.
It gets worse by the fact that this important arc is actually overshadowed by another important arc, i.e. the war between Mutants and humanity. Now of course this isn’t anything new to these films but this time round humanity actually makes the step of creating a cure for Mutants, developed by the powers of a Mutant that can repel phenomenon’s. It isn’t long before Magneto arrives on the scene in order to rally up his Brotherhood of Mutants to take their final stand.
It’s fair to say that Ian McKellen‘s performance as Magneto gradually got better, making me appreciate him in the role as he became more threatening, more manipulative, and more full of depth. After his failed attempts to kill every last homo-sapiens (after Colonel William Stryker tried doing the same to every last Mutant) Magneto engineers an army in order to retaliate against humanities attempts to force a cure upon Mutant-kind. Though only stated as a voluntary procedure, Magneto grows wary that this was merely the beginning of mankind’s paranoia.
What makes Magneto’s fears feel more organic and realistic is down to his past, in which he was a holocaust survivor, thus he understands the cruelty that man can deliver, especially when it comes to exterminating that which they hate, or simply don’t understand. This also plays hand-in-hand with Jean’s story-arc in which he tries to manipulate her to join his crusade, against Professor X’s better judgement. It’s rather interesting when we see a more controlling side to Professor X in which he placed a mental lock around Jean’s mind in order to contain her abilities, to which even Wolverine questions due to the old man essentially using his powers to control the life of another living person (something he spoke of as a bad thing within one of his lectures prior to this scene).
Thus this becomes Professor X’s undoing as he can no longer control Jean as her alter-ego, the Dark Phoenix, takes control and unleashes her powers in an uncontrollable manner. Though Magneto at first tried turning Professor X’s words against him in order to seize control over Jean’s mind, he did not foresee his actions resulting in his old friend’s death. This is a moment that reflects what I said in my previous review, in which demonstrates the strong chemistry McKellen and Patrick Stewart had together, establishing themselves as old friends that share a mutual respect but act as enemies due to their opposing views, but never did they want to bring harm to the other. They simply wanted the other to understand their side of the argument and rekindle their friendship.
When Pyro admits how far his allegiance lied (with him admitting he would’ve willingly killed Professor X) Magneto calls him out on his statement, acknowledging the fact that his old friend did so much for Mutant-kind, admitting his regret that he had to die to fulfil his dream of a better future. Ultimately the sequel is centred around a gigantic fight for the Mutants future and it’s neatly built-up, but the problem lies in the mishandling of many of the character’s and the conclusion resulting in too many deaths.
Cyclops’ death was definitely uncalled for. I will admit that Professor X dying did add weight to the narrative, but again it just felt like a means to make the film feel more dramatic and bold, sending the film franchise off on a really edgy conclusion. Unfortunately it just comes across as Hollywood trying to look big in their big boy pants, before making a massive mess when they overindulged with their Jackman fantasies, which would explain why X-Men: The Last Stand felt like a sticky stain on the bedroom carpet.
The next bold move was turning Mystique into a human. Her character had been a major player throughout the previous films and had helped Magneto dearly, even helping to maintain order within the government, and ultimately helping him escape his plastic bubble, only to then be handed the cruel hand of losing her identity. Fuck off you twats! The whole point of her character was her insistence that her Mutant-state was a representation of her devotion to the course, and that she wasn’t ashamed to show herself, despite being ridiculed by mankind for her looks.
The kick in the bollocks comes with Magneto discarding her which felt really fucking low, even for him. Yes it wasn’t totally out of character but out of all the character’s you’d think he’d dick-over it wouldn’t be Mystique, especially since it was hinted that they had a strong connection with each other. So, yeah, fuck you film! And don’t get me started on Juggernaut. This guy is supposed to be one of the strongest Mutants on the planet, one that even Professor X fears, but instead is reduced to a joke-character with a cockney accent. WHAT THE FUCK FILM?! They didn’t even have the important element of Juggernaut being Professor X’s step-brother, nor the interesting element of his helmet being the only means of Professor X being able to stop his destructive powers.
Randomly Shadowcat is brought more into this sequel (having been seen as cameos in previous films). Now we have Ellen Page joining the team, bringing along her usual charm and awesomeness. But then we have the stupidly added sub-plot of Rogue believing Iceman would rather be with her due to the fact that he can touch her (to the point where she randomly accuses him of being a “typical male”, in which he only thinks with his dick. Not cool man, not cool. Not all men are like that!) So this leads to Rogue (once again) being shafted and given the fucking annoying arc of wanting to discard her powers.
Yes the reasoning is understandable but it’s still a bit out of character. Where’s the badass girl I knew and loved from X-Men: Evolution? Sorry to bring up the comparison again but the point still stands. Rogue was awesome in that show, and here, she’s just a waste of fucking air who means little, to nothing, to the ongoing franchise. It’s really fucking insulting and I just wish Hollywood would keep its heads up its own arsehole so that we might be blessed with its shit staying where it belongs. And sure enough after Rogue contributes absolutely nothing to the film, she finally returns after the actual fucking battle to declare to Iceman she’s now without powers, to which he’s disappointed because it’s something he didn’t want her do (making his entire stand within the protest of the film absolutely fucking redundant, thank you film for wasting our time!)
The only two characters that I would say felt really engaging throughout the film was Storm and Beast. Halle Berry was kept in the corner for the first two films before being allowed to fulfil her true potential within this supposed final instalment. In many ways she takes centre stage as she really develops as a character and is granted true identity, taking on the mantle of leader in the absence of Professor X and Cyclops (with the latter doing fuck all in the previous two films anyway).
Kelsey Grammer really did wonders as Beast and gave him this interesting ground of political guru in which he tried to keep both parties in balance, but never being afraid to join the fight if it called for it. Upon learning that his place within the government was feeling useless he decided to leave his post in order to be with his people, to defend them where it mattered. I really loved it when he ended up re-joining the X-Men and helped them fight against Magneto and his Brotherhood during the massive conclusion. Because Christ-knows we needed somebody to join Wolverine and Storm in the fight. These films feel devoid of characters, which is shocking considering how many they have to play with. Also, where the fuck is Kurt?! Did he die off screen?! Come on screen-writers, fill in the gaps you lazy bastards!
I will admit that the third act was once again good, and was filled with great action sequences and special effects (gotta love Magneto moving the Golden Gate Bridge to attack Alcatraz). But things once again start to fall apart as lots of shit happens and the death toll continues to get higher and higher. Magneto ends up losing his powers too, which honestly feels like a poetic ending, but at the same time feels incredibly cruel (whilst only feeling idiotic because of all the other carnage displayed throughout the film for the sake of making it feel more dramatic). And then love conquers all as Wolverine struggles against Jean’s powerful attacks in order to reach her, tells her he loves her one last time, before giving her a loving stab through the heart to end the war.
What can I say? X-Men: The Last Stand is an unbalanced mess that goes about to massacre the X-Men franchise. And yet it still feels good. It really is an unbalanced film in which I can both love it and hate it at the exact same time. But one must admit that it is full of flaws and grows way out of control for its own good, leaving the franchise in a place of limbo, to which it had to be given a clean slate in order to fully get the bad taste out of your mouth.
But rest assured that on the off-chance this fucked-up film needed someone to come and rescue it in the future, the film tried to cleverly leave things open, such as the retarded scene in which Magneto may be getting his powers back (just because the filmmakers were too pussy to get rid of him completely) and the rather odd, and confusing, scene that features the return of Professor X (just because the filmmakers were too pussy to properly kill him off).