The only thing final about the third installment of the "X-men" movie series is that the mutant mythology brought from the pages of Marvel comics will be getting translated to the big screen for many summer movie seasons to come.
Watching "X-Men: The Last Stand", I wonder if this movie will make any sense to people who have not seen the first two films, or grown up on the soap opera like comics that have been collected for generations. For the readers, thereís a funny cameo by Marvel superstar Stan Lee of course, followed shortly by a brief appearance by Chris Claremont, the bold comics writer who reinvented the "X-men" in the eighties that gave them their immense surge to the pop icons they are today.
While itís a nice touch to let Chris Claremont onto the set, you have to wonder if Claremont squirms every time he watches "X3" mutilate what could be one of the greatest story arcs he ever penned. You expect that the movies will be different from the comics, and minor details like that Kitty Pryde has a crush for Iceman not Colossus, thatís fine, but to see the Phoenix saga be so horribly misrepresented on film is painful.
What began as a promising start at the dramatic conclusion of the last "X-men" movie, the transformation of Jean Grey into the omnipotent powerhouse that is the Phoenix is flat and lifeless. Famke Jannsen who portrays Jean Grey takes on a blanked out expression as she develops a fondness for magenta colored corsets and hanging out with the bad crowd. And when she finally wakes up from her medicated stupor and unleashes her power, itís diffused and un-harnessed without even a glimpse of the flying bird rising up from the flames.
However, there are plenty of shining stars left as Kelsey Grammer replaces Alan Cumming as the cool new blue mutant for the movie. And while the absence of Nightcrawler is bothersome, the arrival of the Beast as a mutant ambassador is spot on thanks to the surprisingly good fit of the former Frasier star in the role.
While enjoyable at times, the latest "X-men" movie suffers from a shortage of time and attention span. With an ensemble cast of interesting characters and a web of stories to be told, enough time is never spent on any one of them to have any lasting impact. The movie experience makes you long for a weekly TV show about Xavierís school for gifted students.
Whatever you do stay through the end credits. Besides being able to admire the army of computer effects artists in New Zealanders at Weta, who manipulated footage shot around Vancouver to depict the San Francisco Bay Area under siege without ever stepping foot into the 415 area code, the filmmakers throw the audience a curveball to skewer the crowd one more time before the ushers ush you out the door.
Looking to renew my membership at the Hellfire Club, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2007 - Purple - Air Date: 5/31/06
X-Men: The Last Stand
USA / UK - 2006