Saturday, July 6, 2013

Movie Review: X-Men - The Last Stand

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good main story, action, and great special effects
Cons: Shallow characters leave emotional arcs weak
The Bottom Line
Weak final chapter
Story tries to be epic
Characters shallow

"They Wish to Cure Us, But I Say We Are the Cure."

So, with the first two movies behind me, it's time to finish the trilogy with X-Men: The Last Stand.  Since I hadn't really followed the movies, I didn't know what to expect going in.  All conceptions out of my mind, I found the action great but on the whole emotionally empty.

In the time since we last checked in on our heroes, a new President has been elected, one who is sympathetic enough with the mutants to create a new cabinet position designed to deal with the mutant problem.  It's even headed by a mutant, Beast (Kelsey Grammer).

Back at the mansion, Cyclopes (James Marsden) is still mourning the loss of his girlfriend.  He heads to the place where she died only to make a startling discovery.

And speaking of startling discovers, someone has found a cure for the mutant gene.  Mutants can now voluntarily get a shot that will make them normal once and for all.  Magento (Ian McKellen) uses this to form a brotherhood of mutants to stand up and fight for their freedom once and for all.  Will Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Storm (HalleBerry) be able to stop him yet again?

Plot wise, there is a lot going on.  In fact, I think that's the biggest problem with the film.  Either of the two plots would have been enough on their own, but instead they fight for dominance and neither is very well developed.  This is especially true of the story that is supposed to be the emotional heart of the movie.  It just isn't.

Of course, part of that is because even though this is the third movie in the series, the number of characters has kept most of them from being super well developed.  If you just don't care about the characters, you don't feel the emotions they do.  This movie is darker than the previous two, but those events are just there as a result.  And keep in mind that I've watched all these movies in the last few weeks, so the previous two are fresh in my mind.

Adding to the problem is the introduction of lots of new characters.  As someone new to the franchise, I don't know who many of them are.  I have a feeling it was a nod to fans who wanted to see them, but most weren't around enough for me to care about one way or the other.

And there's one sub-plot that shouldn't have even been introduced since they don't take the time to truly explore it.  Instead, you get a "huh?" moment at the end of the film.

I thought the acting in the film was fine.  The script really didn't call for much from the actors.  They did their best to breath life into their characters, but there just wasn't much for them to work with.

So what are we left with?  Action and effects.  Don't worry, both are supported by the story and not the other way around.  And there are some amazing effects here.  I was actually amazed at what they were able to make me believe.  Likewise, the action is great and makes it easy to forget the weaknesses of the film.

I know I spent a lot of time tearing the film down, and that's because it is easy to pick at the weaknesses.  It's not a bad film, but it is the weakest of the trilogy.

If you've enjoyed the first two, you owe it to yourself to watch X-Men: The Last Stand.  If you haven't enjoyed the others, there's nothing here that will change your mind about the franchise.

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