X2 knocked it out of the park. Surely Brett Ratner can't fuck this up, right? Right?
Wrong. About a third of the way into the 2006 installment into the X-Men franchise, you think that maybe Brett Ratner turned in a good film. You think that, but all Ratner has really done is turned in some good moments.
Young Angel cutting off his wings in the bathroom! Colossus tossing Wolverine in the first silver screen fastball special! The Danger Room! A Stan Lee cameo!
But in the middle third, things start to slow down and by the final act, we're off the rails and X-Men: The Last Stand instead earns the dubious distinction of being the worst X-Men film. What went wrong?
First of all, Magneto surrounds himself with what appears to be dozens of extras from the Club Hel scene in Matrix Revolutions. Oh, but one of them is like a porcupine! And another can eject an unlimited supply of bones from his arms, which he can then throw at people. Why is that better than throwing knives? Who knows, but it's more gross, at least.
|Mutant or not, Danny Trejo's character from Desperado would have been a better choice, Mags.|
The film tries to tackle two major comic book storylines in 104 minutes and doesn't do either one justice. It particularly messes up the classic Dark Phoenix story that was so perfectly set up in X2. Ratner and company decide to foreshadow the unmitigated disaster that was Spider-Man 3, replacing any nuanced differences in Jean Grey's behavior with just having her be kind of a tramp instead.
Also on the romantic side, a charisma-less Ellen Page appears as Kitty Pride, aka Shadowcat, and promptly gains the attention of Bobby (aka Iceman) despite appearing to be like 14 years old while Bobby could pass for 30. This leads to a pretty lame love triangle between what appear to be two grad students and a high school freshman, as well as to some really awful decision-making on the part of Rogue, played capably by Anna Paquin.
There are little issues, too. The writing is corny at times, leaving us with precious few of the witty exchanges we saw in the previous two films. Wolverine's weird pining for someone who he barely interacted with throughout two films feels forced and creepy, as when he lectures Scott while saying, "I know how you feel."
|"Maybe she would have loved you if you didn't smell like old cigars and beer farts, Logan."|
Dude. Scott and Jean had a serious relationship going already when Logan moved in and decided to get a high school crush on her. He disappeared between X-Men and X2, all the while Scott and Jean continued to be together, and he somehow knows how Scott feels? Yeah, it makes Wolverine look like a dick. Luckily, Scott saves the scene with this ace line: "Not everyone heals as fast as you, Logan."
The ending is a mess, too, killing three major characters and really writing the franchise into a corner. Magneto suddenly comes to a conclusion that he's made a terrible mistake, a conclusion which seems forced and undermines everything the character has been about. Then there's Rogue, who gives up her mutant powers in an apparent attempt to get her boyfriend back, denying her any type of agency whatsoever in the process. I could be more harsh with the grade, but the movie does have some really good moments that help it stand above other duds in the genre. It's just too bad they don't come together to make a solid film.