X-Men: The Last Stand (X-Men 3) (2006)
In X-Men: The Last Stand, the final chapter in the X-Men motion picture trilogy, a "cure" for mutancy threatens to alter the course of history. For the first time, mutants have a choice: retain their uniqueness, though it isolates and alienates them, or give up their powers and become human. The opposing viewpoints of mutant leaders Charles Xavier (Stewart), who preaches tolerance, and Magneto (McKellen), who believes in the survival of the fittest, are put to the ultimate test -- triggering the war to end all wars.
X-Men 2 left its audience with a promise: this story isn’t over. In an ending reminiscent of the best traditions of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (one of the few films in history to properly kill off a popular franchise character), Jean Grey sacrificed her life to save Professor X, Cyclops, and the X-Men. But was she really dead? Director Bryan Singer left savvy X-Fans with hope when, in the closing credits of the film the shape of a fiery bird, a Phoenix (Jean’s future and alter-ego in the comics), stirred within Jean’s watery grave. But Singer wouldn’t be around to finish this story. Lured away by the luster of Superman Returns, and disenfranchised by Fox’s inexplicable lack of interest in their massive, money-making X-Franchise, Bryan bailed out on doing the third X-Men movie.
Fox immediately went into panic mode, and after a lot of rumors, speculation, and wishful thinking on the part of fans, they hired Singer’s replacement: Brett Ratner. Ratner is a capable action director, the kind of guy you can count on to deliver fun, empty flicks. His past work includes popcorn munchers like Rush Hourand Rush Hour 2. That makes him only half a fit for X-Men 3. While popcorn munching mutie action is certainly part of what makes X-Men great, Ratner’s not really capable of handling the film’s other components; the heavier stuff, the story of people trying to protect a world that fears and hates them. Can he deliver a great superhero, action spectacle? There is little doubt. But if you want anything more out of Ratner, he’d better have one hell of a script to work with.
With studio execs in panic mode, and apparently a lot of bitterness towards the departed Singer, X3 was rushed into production in an effort to beat Singer’s now longer in development Superman movie into theaters. Forget whether or not that’s in the best interests of the franchise or Ratner’s film. Fox simply wanted something done and done now. Of secondary concern to them is whether or not it’s any good. So it’s no surprise that the script sounds like something of a rush job too. Written by one of the guys who brought you Elektra (Zak Penn), and the mind behind the script for Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Simon Kinberg), early word on the screenplay has been that it does all the things that no right-thinking X-Men fan wants it to do. Still recovering from one character death in the last film, they’ve decided more would be even better. Rumor has it that many of the most prominent characters from the past two movies will meet their maker, some of them within the movie’s first ten minutes. Where X2 did character deaths right, X3 will simply do them, in what many perceive as an effort to clear out the cast and make room for a takeover of the franchise by Halle Berry.
Halle you’ll remember, doesn’t even like the X-Men, and has in the past been fairly vocal with her disdain at being forced to play a superhero character. The real issue for her though is screen time, and before she’d agree to reprise her role as Storm for X3, Berry demanded an X-Men movie centered entirely around her. It appears that Fox executives, lured by the luster of her undeserved Oscar, may have been only too eager to oblige. What Halle either doesn’t understand or doesn’t seem to care about, is that the X-Men aren’t about Storm or Wolverine any one team member. The films work because of their dynamic as a group. But X3 looks to leave that team permanently shattered, with prime members shipped out and replaced by weaker newbies.
At least they’ve found good newbies. Nightcrawler won’t be back at all, for some reason Fox decided they’d had enough of the fantastic work of Alan Cumming. Instead, X3 introduces a new, blue character in the form of Hank McCoy, who, in a brilliant bit of casting, is played by Kelsey Grammer. Fraser as a superhero? Why not. He may not exactly embody Hank “Best” McCoy’s athleticism, but he’s a perfect match for Hank’s almost overly educated, lovable persona.
Perhaps the most disheartening thing about the development of X3 is that it may be the end. Titled X-Men: The Last Stand, Fox execs have been fairly adamant that this will be the last movie in the X-Men saga. Instead, their focus is on creating a series of inferior spin-off movies starring popular, surviving X-Men team members. Wolverine’s spin-off (which may be a prequel) is already in development as is a Magneto movie (which will absolutely be a prequel), focusing on a younger, more marketable version of the wizened master of magnetism. If this really is the last one, even if Ratner’s take is an utter disaster, that’s a shame. How quickly this franchise will have fallen. X2 is perhaps one of the finest comic book, superhero movies ever to make it to screen, and even now there are so many stories left to tell with these character. So many people and places unvisited. Fox! Whether or not X3 does well please, please don’t make this the franchise’s last stand.
MPAA Rating: [ Probably PG-13 ]
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: May 26, 2006
Starring: CONFIRMED: Halle Berry (Storm), Patrick Stewart (Prof. X), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey/Pheonix), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Rebecca Romijn (Mystique), Kelsey Grammer (Beast), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Ben Foster (Angel), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Dr. Kavita Rao), Cameron Bright (Leech), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus), James Marsden (Cyclops), Olivia Williams (Moira MacTaggert), Kea Wong (Jubilee), Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut), Mei Melancon (Psylocke)
| LIKELY: Ashley Hartman (Emma Frost aka The White Queen), Mercedes Scelba-Shorte (M)
| NOT IN THE FILM: Alan Cumming (played Nightcrawler in X2), Maggice Grace (once rumored to be cast as Shadowcat)
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Produced by: Avi Arad, Stan LeeLauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Ross Fanger, Hugh Jackman, John Palermo
Written by: Zak Penn, Simon Kinberg, Mathew Vaughn (rumored)
if you're excited for X-Men: The Last Stand (X-Men 3)