PG-13 for some pretty hot making out. Also, Mr. Knife Hands is back and there's a bunch of major character deaths. The Juggernaut famously uses the b-word, amongst other swearing. Good guys becoming bad guys gets complex for kids, I guess. Also, there's a gross scene where Angel tries cheese-gratering off his wings. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner
I'm going to say it: I've never hated this movie. What few readers I have left just left the page. I get it, guys. This movie is universally reviled. But I also liked X-Men: Apocalypse, so maybe I just have no taste. X-Men: The Last Stand is another example of a disappointing movie that suffers more from being a follow-up to a great movie. Everyone was all, "Yay, X2, you're the best." Then Bryan Singer left (which apparently is something that happens) and the movie becomes only okay.
X-Men: The Last Stand might be the first movie in a franchise that kind of sucks because of actor / director/ studio politics. Man, you can read it all over this movie. It's also kind of why Justice League sucks. Sorry, I'm setting all kinds of emotional fires today. I have a headache and am having a hard time writing. I apologize for whatever nonsense I present in this analysis. I don't think I'll ever know the entire background for whatever happened behind the scenes on Bryan Singer movies. It seems entirely toxic. But I do know that Halle Berry really wanted a much bigger role for Storm. I get it. Making Storm a huge part, if done well, probably would have reshaped the landscape for representation. We could have had a bigger Black Panther than we actually got. But I don't think that Halle Berry was really thinking that. I think that Halle Berry was aware that she was an A-list megastar who was playing third fiddle in a very packed series of films. That's the first thing that all the sudden stuck out to me. Storm is really pushed front-and-center out of nowhere. The movie almost retcons what Storm was in the other films. The other films definitely presented Storm as just another X-Man. She electrocutes folks and quips about Toads being hit by lightning. At one point in the film, Professor X points out that Scott never really adjusted to Jean's death, so he sees Storm as the most natural leader of the X-Men. Now, I will say that the comic books have gone this route before. But that's because Storm is actually kind of developed in the comic books. Halle Berry's Storm...isn't? That's not really her fault. But instead of getting an arc or a hero's journey. we are simply told that Storm is the most noble and level-headed in a team that has a lot of redeeming characters. Her character is almost someone completely different in this movie. I don't hate that character. I just wish that character was present in the other films and not because an A-list star was throwing tantrums about being a successful character. The new Storm is actually better. Don't ask me why, yet. I already wrote about X-Men: Apocalypse, so I can't really go back and re-examine that. But I never really thought Halle Berry got Storm. Storm is just Halle Berry with lightning. (I swear, X-Men: The Last Stand does not rest on Halle Berry. It's just something that people kind of ignore.) The Jean Grey / Phoenix story is a love triangle story between Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey. Okay, it was in the cartoon version and I liked that. But James Marsden was following Bryan Singer to work on Superman Returns. I love Superman Returns (again, hot take!), but that's a step down for Marsden. It murders his character remarkably fast just so he could go film another movie. That's really weird. These are studio and personal choices. They don't serve the film and it's so bizarre that these are the cards going into the movie. I was honestly shocked that Marsden actually died at the beginning.
This wasn't a Game of Thrones season one death. (That's as spoilery as I'll go. I also, overall, like Game of Thrones. Look at all these hot takes!) The death of Cyclops absolutely reads like "We couldn't have him for the entire shoot" rather than, "No one is safe." Everyone else feels completely safe. Okay, Professor X dies. Yeah, this whole blog is spoilers now. Sorry. But his death feels like it is meant to have emotional resonance. Also, he doesn't really die. Kevin Feige's name is on this movie, so there's an after credits sequence to show that Charles Xavier took over someone else's body, despite the moral implication he himself states. I'm going to try to avoid talking about Dark Phoenix because I have a lot to say on that piece of hot trash. (Hot takes! Okay, not really. A lot of people agree with me on that movie.) But this was a conclusion to a trilogy of movies. The expectation that some characters would die is part of it. I just am trying to stress that Cyclops feels really cheap in this movie. There were two movies stressing the conflicts between Cyclops and Wolverine. That never comes to a head. It never really has a chance to. That's really bizarre. I would almost say to recast Cyclops. Marden fans might not like me for this, but I kind of feel like James Marsden wasn't a huge actor at the time. He is also a pretty standard type. Scott Summers kind of needed to have an emotional resolution in this film. But instead, he got all Poochy, became one emotion, and got blown up. Which kind of leads me to where people probably had a problem with these films.
Both The Last Stand and Dark Phoenix have a really hard time explaining Jean's villainy. I'm always torn about making Professor X so morally complex. Professor X is Martin Luther King. He's the guy who always makes the rough call about avoiding violence when possible. He's the guy all about integration. In the comics and in the movies, Professor X has had to make some hard calls. I don't like when characters are perfect and make the right choice every time. But Professor X is in a really awkward position in these films. He sees this girl who has deep rooted mental issues that could kill everyone. He's the world's strongest telepath and he has the ability to shut out these violent tendencies. What is he supposed to do? The alternative, which neither movie really addresses, is to torture this girl for years. Jean, in The Last Stand, is the product of a split personality. That secondary personality is violent and wildly powerful. Her other personality is scared and in need of family and structure. How is Professor X's intervention any different than medication? Jean leads a pretty rad life. Yeah, the Phoenix is powerful when she escapes, but he had no idea that was going to happen. He did a crummy thing when there were no better solutions. Both of these movies tend to throw Charles Xavier under the bus really quickly when it comes to how he handled Jean Grey. Maybe the stories are commentaries on the dangers of overmedication, but I never really got that. By the time that Charles dies, he is pretty villified. I don't know if that is really all that fair. I love Charles Xavier. I want him to be complex, I guess. But I don't really understand how to instantly make him a bad guy is helping anyone. Also, from this movie's perspective, it's the end of a trilogy. Yeah, yeah, they left some doors open to bring the characters back. But Charles Xavier never really gets a redemption arc. SPOILERS: Dark Phoenix does the same thing to him. It at least lets him apologize, as opposed to just getting shredded into flesh fragments.
But no one really gives X-Men: The Last Stand credit for what it did and what it accomplished to do. Brett Ratner...is the worst? Okay, in light of how terrible Bryan Singer is coming out of all of this, Brett Ratner probably looks like a prince. His movies tend to be a bit blah. His personality clashes with humanity. But The Last Stand looks and feels like the other movies before it. There's definitely a personality break between The Last Stand and First Class. That's a good thing, so please, understand that. The role of The Last Stand was to close threads. Despite the fact that the threads were closed in a hamfisted way and under the long shadow of a studio, it does kind of accomplish that. Jean has been teased as something larger than herself technically from the first movie. The end of X2 really rode the Phoenix thing hard. Do I wish that Jean was allowed to be the Phoenix before she became the Dark Phoenix? Sure. That isn't my argument. I read that somewhere. The reason we don't really get attached to Dark Phoenix is because there is very little build up. We don't see the potential of Jean as Phoenix before things go south. The Logan / Jean storyline comes to a head. That relationship that has been poking its head for a while is finally addressed. It's attempting to be sexy. I do believe the relationship between Jean and Logan. Considering that Logan's feelings for Jean are pretty selfish and he's in the wrong, Logan's arc to being a team player and sacrificing for the X-Men is played out here. It's addressed more in The Wolverine, which I may or may not watch based on how masochistic I feel. Also, this movie gave us Beast. A really good Beast. I love Nicholas Hoult, but Kelsey Grammar is inspired as Beast. He's unabashedly blue and he even says, "Oh my stars and garters." He's the character in the form that I wanted to see him in when he was teased on the news. (Again, a continuity error because X-Men could not care less about what they previously teased.) If the series started with Rogue as the center of attention, it doesn't really give her a close. But it does give her a story that makes sense. Tying into Josh Whedon's X-Men arc, the series plays with the concept of a cure. It adapts a lot of that. Ultimately and despite the fact that I respect the attempt, this is a poor decision and distracts from the Dark Phoenix stuff that takes an odd backseat considering how dangerous the situation is. Rogue takes a cure for mutanthood and disappoints those around her, despite the fact that she still is seen as sympathetic. There are some really good choices going on here. It feels like the rest of the series, but just a little more discombobulated. I actually will go as far as to say that X-Men: The Last Stand is a halfway decent X-Men movie.
It has all of these faults. The movie had an impossible list to deliver on. We all kind of hated Brett Ratner. The studio kept on sticking its stupid head into the movie and the politics behind the scenes affected the final product. But X-Men: The Last Stand is a watchable movie. There's a great Magneto moment, which is great. Sure, it backpedals out of consequences really fast. (In fact, a lot of this movie backpedals out of consequences, shy of Cyclops who physically couldn't play the part.) But I'll go as far as to say that I enjoyed the movie for most part. Give it another whirl, especially if you were disappointed by Dark Phoenix. Again, low expectations definitely help...
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.