X-Men: The Last Stand
Director: Brett Ratner (Rush Hour Series, Red Dragon, The Family Man)
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn
Producers: Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammer, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Effects: WETA (King Kong, I,Robot, Lord of the Rings, Contact, HALO)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 104 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

     Somehow I get the feeling this isn't really a last stand, but I've been known to be wrong before. The third installment of the X-Men series, although probably not as good as the last two films, still packs a helluva whallop and fans should walk away from their seats with a smile. High on the action and special effects meter, but low on characterization and pacing. But what did you expect? It's the frickin' X-Men! Side note: be sure to stay through the credits for a special surprise!

      This third time around, the X-Men have to not only fight against their mutant counterparts in Magneto's brotherhood, they also must contend against the humans and their government. It seems that the humans have found a "cure" for the mutant gene and decide to use it against the wills of the mutants. Of course this doesn't go over well with either side, but both the X-Men and the brotherhood have obviously different ideas about how to handle the threat. Incidentally, unless you're a die-hard, it wouldn't hurt to watch the last two films back to back; or at least part 2, since part 3 takes off nearly instantaneously where 2 left off. Also, character depth might be much more notable with a back to back helping.

      Like I said, fans should be happy, but there may be some disappointment in some of the characters. For example, where the hell was the super-cool Nightcrawler from the last film? And I was also a bit disappointed in Juggernaut. A good character that turned sour for me very quickly and also had the worst line in the movie. On the other hand, lots of cool new and interesting characters were introduced; although I would've liked to see them developed a bit more. Kelsey Grammer fit the bill well in his role as Beast, but again, I expected just a tad more. The stand-outs are, of course, veteran actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan as Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Their charm, charisma and acting prowess could never be replaced. I especially enjoyed the flashback scenes when these two were friends and once worked together. They mention each other later in the film and I liked what they said about each other; especially Magneto's line to Pyro.

      Everyone's favorite character, Wolverine, started off great, but slowly started to sink in his appeal. His lines got a little cheesy and his solo fights with various aggressors seemed... worthy of TV, not the big screen. Still, it's Hugh Jackman and he's pretty darn cool with those mutton chops and steel claws. By the way, a spin-off role for Wolverine is on the way.

      A couple of needless side stories take up too much time and detract from the rest of the story. We know a huge battle is coming, so I really felt like we should just get on with it already! Dealing with a nearly pointless love story between two of the younger members of the X-Men just takes away screen time for the huge battle royale with both sides of the mutants and the humans and their "primitive" weapons. There are a couple of good action sequences along the way, but the pacing is a bit off. A little less down time, and a little more ass-kicking from the people we expect to kick ass would've been nice. But I'm nit-picking as the sequences are all amazingly well done and intense as hell.

      Which brings us to the effects. Do I really even need to mention them? They are some of the best effects I've seen, or probably will see, this year (except for maybe Superman Returns - we'll see). Not surprisingly, the effects company in charge of X-Men, was also in charge of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. It's pretty much flawless: from little, simple things like levitating lawnmowers, to amazingly grand shots of the Golden Gate bridge being hoisted from its seams and dragged across the bay.

      All in all, it's a super fun movie. You won't be disappointed. Those seeing this film know what they're wanting to see and what they're going to see. I can promise that most of these people won't be let down. Despite the simplicity of the story-line, there are surprises. A few I did NOT see coming at all. More than once I thought, "Wow. I can't believe that just happened." And like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, despite this film as being a little more shallow than the previous attempts, I have a pretty good feeling that this will not be the last we see of the X-Men.

IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site
The "real" X-Men
Part 1 and 2 at Amazon.com
FLIXSTER PROFILE for X-Men: The Last Stand