1 item from 2006
Not exactly going out with a whimper, "X-Men: The Last Stand", the closing installment of the commercially and critically successful Marvel movie franchise, still fails to generate the satisfying bang created by the first and, particularly, the second edition.
With creative force Bryan Singer having vacated the X-Men universe for the highly anticipated "Superman Returns", Brett Ratner has taken the reins, and though the picture is not without its wow-inducing, SFX-driven moments, that potent X-factor is considerably diminished in Singer's absence.
Arriving Friday on the heels of tonight's splashy Cannes premiere, the film should still enjoy an X-cellent opening weekend, but less assured is its ability to scale the $214.8 million-grossing heights of 2003's "X2: X-Men United".
The gang's pretty much all here for the purported final go-round, which sees the makings of a virtual mutant civil war ignited by the introduction of a pharmaceutical cure for their afflictions/attributes.
That promise of conformity offered by the crusading Warren Worthington Sr. (Michael Murphy) further alienates the mutant society with its double-edged ramifications.
Unsurprisingly, the "cure" triggers a sociological showdown between the ever-tolerant Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and the mercurial Magneto (Ian McKellen), who vows to obliterate both the remedy and its adherents, human and mutant alike.
Meanwhile, on a more local level, Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), is thrown for an emotional loop when the extremely telepathic Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) emerges from what was believed to have been her watery grave with her powers notably undiluted.
But while the setup, with its underlying themes of sexual identity and alienation more pronounced than ever, is intriguing enough, "Last Stand" is more concerned about getting to the next special effects sequence than it is about tapping into those relevant undercurrents.
Sticking mainly to the surface, Ratner, who came on board after the hasty departure of "Layer Cake" director Matthew Vaughn, keeps things moving swiftly enough, but his writing team (Singer took previous "X-Men" scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris to the "Superman" movie) -- including Simon Kinberg ("Mr. & Mrs. Smith") and Zak Penn -- fails to nail the requisite tone.
So while Jackman, Janssen, McKellen, Stewart, Halle Berry's Storm, Rebecca Romijn's Mystique, as well as newcomer Kelsey Grammer's hairy, blue-tinged Dr. Henry McCoy/Beast are all in fine fighting form, their superpowers ultimately are rendered useless in the face of some ultradumb dialogue that truly misses the "X-Men" mark.
Visual effects supervisor John Bruno, meanwhile, doesn't disappoint with some franchise-worthy set pieces -- among them a dramatic repositioning of the Golden Gate Bridge and a rather extreme makeover of Grey's suburban home -- that are worthy of the Marvel moniker.
X-Men: The Last Stand
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox presents in association with Marvel Entertainment a Donners Co. production of a Brett Ratner film
Director: Brett Ratner
Screenwriters: Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn
Executive producers: Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, John Palermo
Director of photography: Dante Spinotti
Production designer: Edward Verreaux
Costume designer: Judianna Makovsky
Music: John Powell
Visual effects supervisor: John Bruno
Logan/Wolverine: Hugh Jackman
Storm: Halle Berry
Professor Charles Xavier: Patrick Stewart
Magneto: Ian McKellen
Jean Grey: Famke Janssen
Rogue: Anna Paquin
Dr. Henry McCoy/Beast: Kelsey Grammer
Cyclops: James Marsden
Mystique: Rebecca Romijn
Bobby Drake/Iceman: Shawn Ashmore
Pyro: Aaron Stanford
Juggernaut: Vinnie Jones
Warren Worthington III/Angel: Ben Foster
Kitty Pryde: Ellen Page
Callisto: Dania Ramirez
MPAA rating PG-13
Running time -- 104 minutes »
1 item from 2006
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