X-Men Last Stand

XMenLastStand

This third installment of the X-Men film series centers on the development of a viable mutant cure to correct the “corruption of healthy cellular activity.” This one hour and 43 minute sci-fi/superhero action film reprises the roles of most main characters while squeezing in a few mutants not seen in the film series yet.

Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Halle Berry (Storm), Rebecca Romijn (Mystique) and James Marsden (Cyclops) all return. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen again play the most prominent mutants, Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto (a.k.a. Eric Lensherr), respectively. The cure divides Xavier, the human protector, and Magneto, the grudge holding antagonist (who makes a surprising mistake in strategy near the end), while other characters get to show their true “metal”.

Famke Janssen’s role as Dr. Jean Grey expands to include her alter ego, Phoenix. Anna Paquin returns as Rogue as her boyfriend Iceman, played by Shawn Ashmore, battles his former fire spewing friend, Pryo, played by Aaron Stanford.

Ellen Page plays Xavier student Kitty Pryde in a greatly expanded role while fans of the comic book will recognize appearances by Siryn, Callisto and Jubilee. Shohreh Aghdashloo (TV’s 24, House of Sand and Fog) plays a small role as Dr. Kavita Rao, one of the medical officials distributing the cure.

Other new characters include Angel, played by Ben Foster and Juggernaut, played by Vinnie Jones. Famous military voice R. Lee Ermey and Stan Lee also have small roles.

Screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn do a great job juggling all the characters, though Nightcrawler, previously played by Alan Cumming, does not make an appearance and doesn’t even get an explanation. The plot balances this omission with Beast, played by Kelsey Grammer, who adds an interchangeable element where characters in the film series can come and go.

These substitutions diminish the emotional impact of the characters built by previous director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects and Superman Returns), but still provides entertaining variety for the audience. Rogue’s diminished role disappoints, but filmmakers realize her powers wouldn’t fit into the amazing brawl at the ending climax, which includes some great fighting sequences of Wolverine and Beast.

The plot simplifies and repeats many elements from the two previous films to refresh audiences’ mind, yet, as the plot ties up loose ends, filmmakers seem to be appeasing the audience with the tease of a future installment and the possible erosion of the main source of this film’s conflict (pay special attention to Xavier’s comments during an important televised news bulletin).

Recommended with reservations (** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and profanity spoken in the heat of battle. Be sure to watch the ending credits for an additional scene.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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