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X-Men: The Last Stand

By Michael Beyers

Hope the glue doesn't come unstuck...

Being the Summer Blockbuster season in North America, this is the time of year that most action and CGI effect junkies look forward to, where the studios roll out their next big budget movie with the hope of making an even bigger profit. Massive action sequences, epic musical scores and classic clashes between good and evil are signatures of these type of movies and X-Men 3: The Last Stand is no exception.

The series which was previously directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns) is now helmed by Brett Ratner of Rush Hour fame but also After The Sunset infamy. The change in director caused concern amongst fans of the series who were worried that Ratner would not be able to recreate the intelligent and serious undertones of the first two films and instead deliver an action spectacle, lacking in character development and decent storyline (the writers were the same duo responsible for the abysmal Elektra). And in many respects, they were right. Not that this makes this film any less enjoyable. In fact it makes it even more so.

The story picks up with the X-Men still mourning the loss of Dr. Jean Grey with Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, appropriately sporting designer stubble and the 'out of bed' hairstyle common to action heroes who have lost a loved one. He leaves the school and in a spectacular fit of rage awakens his lost love, much to his detriment and many others as the story progresses. Meanwhile times are changing and the mutants who were once complete outsiders now have their own Department Of Affairs, headed by newcomer to the series Hank McCoy aka Beast (effectively played by Kelsey Grammer, whose diction as his name might suggest, is always perfect). The mutant's dream, but more specifically Professor Xavier's, of being accepted into society seems close to being realized until a spanner is thrown into the works by the name of a boy named Leach.

His body is able to produce a cure for the mutants that turns them into normal, everyday human beings. In fact just his presence is enough to cure a mutant. He is held captive, or at least it appears that way, by a billionaire named Warren Worthington II. He keeps him at a medical facility, located at what was once Alcatraz prison. Fueled by the shame of having a son who is the mutant Angel (played by Ben Foster sporting beautiful, white wings), he begins mass producing the cure and together with the government, opens mutant cure clinics where mutants are given the chance to cure themselves and join 'normal' society. This choice proves to be a difficult choice for many mutants, many who dream of fitting and being able to enjoy the simple pleasure in life such as the touch of a loved one's skin. Cure clinics are surrounded by rioting mutants who oppose the cure and those who choose to become normal.

The choice is not so hard for Magneto (another powerful and thoroughly enjoyable performance from Ian McKellen). He rallies together an army of mutants that he dubs the Brotherhood. He is able to recruit Dr. Jean Grey, who has evolved into Dark Phoenix and since escaped from the school, in an absolutely spectacular sequence that will amaze as much as it will shock. Together, magneto and his Brotherhood hide in the mountains and plan their war against the billionaire Worthington, the cure, the makers thereof and any mutants who stand in their way. Meanwhile an army has been mobilized to fight Magneto and his followers, complete with metal-free combat outfits and equipment, as well as guns using the cure as ammunition. The last remaining group of X-Men decides to help the humans in their battle against Magneto in what is a brilliant and epic finale.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable action and CGI roller coaster ride. The CGI is some of the best I have ever seen and the new mutants, along with the old ones, are just as fascinating and exciting as ever. Also, the death of many key mutants was a shock but added to the emotional feel of the film. There are many question raised and comparison to today's society in regards to the progression of science and medicine and what is ethical or not. Is it ethical to change our design and our DNA to become something better in the future? Is it right to change someone so that they are more acceptable to society and whose choice is that to make? These serious themes are touched on but only on a very visceral level. The running time is a bit short considering how much is crammed into the 104 minutes, which is a good and a bad thing. On the positive side, the movie moves along briskly from one brilliant action sequence to the next and on the negative, more time could of allowed for more time to flesh out some of the roles, new and old mutants alike, and also to maybe engage some of the themes a bit more seriously.

All in all, this was a very well made and thoroughly entertaining movie. The action and slickness with which it was made make up for the plot holes and sometimes cheesy dialog. The goal of this movie was to wow and entertain, which it does with flying colours.

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