XMen - The Last Stand

The third in the Xmen franchise picks up directly after the previous film. Cyclops (James Marsden) is mourning the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who died in battle in Xmen 2. He goes to where the combat took place, and is stunned to find her alive. This isn’t the Jean that he knew, as his fellow Xmen will discover. Amidst this, industrialist Warren Worthington has created a formula that will ‘cure’ people who become mutants like the Xmen. Not only does this alarm their leader, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), but also his nemesis Magneto (Ian McKellen). Both men race against time to stop this ‘cure’ from being used. It’s up to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry) and company to defeat this menace, with the surprise return of Jean potentially hindering their progress.
The director of the previous films, Bryan Singer, departed the franchise to helm the latest Superman adventure. To take his place, the studio chose Brett Ratner, a very commercial director who had hits with the ‘Rush Hour’ films amongst others. The first two films were massive hits and bought to life the comic book characters created by Stan Lee very vividly. Whilst there is the same style of storytelling evident here, some of the heart that made the series so compelling appears to have been lost, with character development being virtually non-existent. The spectacle and thumping pace is here, but the flame that fired the previous entries so well seems diminished.
The lead actor this time out is Hugh Jackman, who reprises his role as anti-hero Wolverine. When Jean Grey re-appears, this stirs emotions in him that he never felt before and makes him a more vulnerable character than previously. Jackman does very well in these scenes, along with the more physical side in which he seems to revel. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen give their customary dignified performances and make their scenes crackle whenever they appear. The rest of the very large cast all do their best with the limited time afforded them, with Kelsey Grammer having a great time as the blue haired mutant, Beast.
A major problem with this film is that there are too many characters vying for attention, with some only having the briefest of scenes before disappearing altogether. The script only comes together well when there are two or three characters in each scene. These are few and far between however, with the action and special effects taking over before the story becomes too serious. However, this isn’t a bad sequel by any means, with a lot of twists that stay true to its comic book origins.
Overall, the acting is well realised with the action scenes being very well crafted. As a conclusion to the Jean Grey story arc, it pushes all of the expected buttons, with moderate success. There is potential for further adventures, but only if the cast is pared down, with a more focused script. This is an entertaining popcorn film that despite its flaws, succeeds in being winning escapist fare.
Rating out of 10: 7

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