X-Men: The Last Stand

You know, I was really disappointed by this film.

The first two X-Men films transcended comic-book franchises, or sci-fi, and were Good Films™. They were good films because Brian Singer is an excellent film director. (Based on the experience of the first two X-Men, and the new Superman movie, I’d go to see anything he did now.)

This one, directed by Brett Ratner, just isn’t as good. It rides the coat-tales of the previous two, but is just a big summer blockbuster, with characters couldn’t care less about and lots of explosions.

With X-Men I and II, Singer successfully managed to address real-world human issues within the imaginary milieu of mutants with essentially magical powers. He dealt with racism and oppression. He opened the first film with a flashback to a Nazi concentration camp, a scene which, if handled improperly could have been grossly insensitive and exploititive—if had been just another action movie—but which was instead affecting and, relevant and genuinely moving. (Now I’m not a survivor of Dachau saying that, but I can usually at least spot a movie crying crocodile tears.)

The Last Stand tries an ‘issue’ too: the conflict between humans and mutants is held up as a mirror to the struggle for gay rights, but somehow, in the hands of this director, it seems tacked on. And tacky.

By the time Magneto is wrenching the Golden Gate bridge across San Francisco harbour, I really couldn’t give a shit. People were dying, things were exploding, but it all felt like empty spectacle. Ratner had by this point piled on a million new mutants (and upset a million fans of the comic by changing their characters, apparently), thrown in too many story lines and— And, you know, the special effects weren’t as good as I’ve seen. I spotted a few obvious digital doubles, and what looked like bad matt-lines.

X-Men III isn’t as bad as, say Batman Forever. It’s just nowhere near as good as X-Men I and II. It’s summer blockbuster brain-candy… which is a real shame. The first two films built a real world, with three dimensional characters, and the third film just takes that and throws away all the good, crunchy bits, leaving only the special-effects marzipan and action-sequences icing.

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