Wednesday, June 14, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

[somewhat of a spoiler]


In X-Men (2000) Stan Lee’s classic Marvel comic is brought to the screen. It tells the story of children who are mutants, that is, they are born with an X-Factor in their genes. This factor gives them special powers. Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) runs a school for these mutants and wants them to learn to control their powers so as to live peacefully with other humans.


In X-2 (2003) an attempt is made on the president’s life and he does already have it in for the mutants. Xavier sends out two of the mutants to find out who is behind the assassination attempt. It is Stryker (Brian Cox), a kind of religious fanatic, who uses his son to attack the school. Styker also tries to control Xavier’s powers to destroy the mutants.


Meanwhile, the mutant Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is on a journey of self-discovery.


In X-Men:The Last Stand a cure is found for the mutants. Magneto (Ian McKellan throughout the series) wants everyone to take the cure so everyone will be the same, while the mutants, led by Xavier, want to retain their identity. Jean Grey/Phoenix (Famke Jannsen) is thought to be dead but she rises again and it is revealed she has a split personality. She has not learned to integrate her powers, her thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Magneto, rather than Xavier, prevails over her and the scene is set for a great battle.


X-Men was the first comic book-into film that I really liked. I thought X-2 was brilliant; I got it and enjoyed it. X-Men: The Last Stand seems to suffer from its own identity crisis. Wolverine was not even interesting (to me.) I didn’t get why he had to kill Jean Grey – unless she is going to rise again in another sequel. I did think that the idea of who decides who is normal or not is an important theme. In fact, Magneto had once suffered at the hands of the Nazi’s, so perhaps this film’s plot reflects this. I also didn’t get the role of the angel, except that he saved his father who was the one engineering the cure.


Perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood, but this last entry into the franchise didn’t quite make the cut for me. All the character development and interest in the characters that X-2 used to engage us, fell, well, flat. Good production qualities it has, of course. It’s the story that mutated just a little too much to yield a satisfying cinematic experience.


Having said this, Kelsey Grammer as Beast/Dr. McCoy, was an excellent addition to the cast. As the film is resolved, this very different "looking" person is made a member of the president's cabinet. We do not all have to look the same to have dignity and value.

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