X-Men: The Last Stand

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        I'm sorry I've taken so long to review X-Men 3. I should have seen it in Florence but they dub all their movies into Italian. And I should have seen it in Greece but I couldn't find a theatre. So I saw it in Leicester Square in London, a great place to see a blockbuster. X-Men 3 is, of course, the 3rd installment of the movie version of the comic book favorite, The Uncanny X-Men. The theme of the three movies has been the uncomfortable relationship between "humans" and "mutants", a.k.a. the X-Men. One group of mutants, led by Professor X ( Patrick Stewart), wants everyone to live together in harmony, while the other group, led by Magneto (Ian McKellen), wants to fight for the right to be mutant. As X-Men 3 begins, a drug company has developed a way of blocking the mutant gene. As the new big, blue furry mutant, The Beast (Kelsey Grammer) puts it, "They're calling it a cure." But, as Storm (Halle Berry) says, "There's nothing to cure."

        In addition to Storm, the rest of the usual cast of mutants who would be supermodels if they didn't have superpowers are back including Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), Rogue (Anna Paquin), and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) as well as bunch of newbie mutants. Callisto (Dania Ramirez) is cool but most the new mutants have pretty stupid superpowers. The story of the new movie revolves around Jean Grey. X-Men 3 begins with a flashback to when Jean was "recruited" as a young girl by Professor X and Magneto (both rejuvenated by CGI). It seems that Jean has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men and it has only been professor X's mental powers holding Jean in check all these years. But I know what you are thinking. Jean Grey is dead. She was killed at the end of X-Men 2. Her two men, Wolverine and Cyclops, have been pining for her. But it seems that she has come back to life under a new persona, "Phoenix." And she is really cranky.

        The President (Josef Sommer) decides to use the new mutant cure as a weapon so lots of X-Men lose their powers. And then, like I said, Jean Grey is a bit cranky. So a lot of X-Men get killed. The makers of X-Men 3 say that all this doesn't matter because this is the last X-Men movie. If you believe that one, I have some nice swampland down here in Louisiana to sell you but more on that later. The whole question of who is alive, who is dead and who still has their mutant powers becomes pretty murky in X-Men 3. All these X-Men are losing their powers and their lives because Magneto and his "brotherhood" along with Jean Grey have declared war on the humans in order to kidnap the mutant who is providing the antidote. Most of the bad things happen to the mutants because Magneto is the worst general of all time. But the good guys, led by Wolverine and Storm, try to stop them. There's only 6 of them. I won't spoil it for you but if you want the rundown on what happens to whom, click here.

        There was much Sturm and Drang among X-Men aficionados because Brian Singer who directed the first two installments dropped #3 so he could direct his dream movie, Superman Returns. The producers turned to Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon) to do #3. I didn't think that #1 and #2 where all that great, so I don't see what all the fuss is about. What is good about the X-Men movies, unusually for a CGI-fest like this, is that it has a pretty good cast with some interesting characters. Just the brilliant casting of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, two alumni of the Royal Shakespeare Company, as the good and evil mutants, makes these movies interesting. These two guys can make 3-dimensional characters out of anything. McKellen is on quite a roll. After appearing as Gandalf in the mega successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, this spring he appears in both The Da Vinci Code and X-Men 3, which between them, have already grossed over $350 million just in the USA. The best thing in X-Men 3 is Hugh Jackman who is both great looking and does a great job as Wolverine. Halle Berry and Jackman almost make you believe that mutants are just regular guys, well, regular guys who look like supermodels. And who thought of casting Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) as a mutant? He's actually pretty good as a blue furball.

        Anyway, X-Men 3 is pretty good. I liked it better than X-Men 2, actually. See my review for details. This new film, has a nice focus, i.e., "the cure" and it is a lot more fun than X-Men 2. All that Jean Grey and most of the rest of the mutants really need is some therapy. But they work out their frustrations the old fashioned way, i.e., killing and maiming. And with Jean Grey, that means laying waste to the planet. Did I mention that she's a bit cranky? And X-Men 3 has the added fun of seeing the main characters dropping like flies. They certainly make you believe that this might be the last installment of the X-Men series, since most of the major characters are dead or have lost their superpowers by the end of the movie. But then the last scene of the movie and an additional scene tacked on at the end of the closing credits undo the first 2 hours of the film. The credits are extremely long as usual for a big effects movie but at the very end, there is a short scene that you need to see. So stick around. There will definitely be another sequel!