Friday, May 26, 2006

Mister Fanboy Movies X-Men: The Last Stand Review

Mister Fanboy Movies joins us today for a review of X-Men: The Last Stand. His special guest star reviewer is our own Mister Fanboy Comics.

Mister Fanboy Movies (MFBM): Before we get to the review, let's frame the film quickly in terms of what happened in the process of getting it made. Fans of the original two films have been anxiously waiting for this, the 3rd, and reportedly final, installment of the X-Men movies. But not just for the typical reasons, but because of "Director-Gate." Bryan Singer, director of the first two films, as well as The Usual Suspects, jumped ship to direct Superman Returns. Rather than wait until he might be available to direct a 3rd installment, Fox went ahead with plans to film it without him. The online community went bonkers. Then Fox brought in Matthew Vaughn, who directed Layer Cake. Never heard of it? Neither did I, until learned about him taking over the film. No sooner than I had discovered that, it was announced that Vaughn was off the project. Besides the fact that revolving directors is never a good sign, the final director choice left many of the fan's "panties tied up in a knot." I'm referring to Brett Ratner, who had previously directed both Rush Hour films (ugh) and Red Dragon (a remake of the wonderfully internse Manhunter). So things were not looking good. Since that time, comments from the actors in the film have praised Ratner's direction, but that's not the best barometer to gauge these things. How many times have you heard an actor dis the director of a film before it has come out? Very few indeed. It's through this backdrop that we entered the film with high expectations and lots of trepidation.

And now, on with the review ... SPOILER ALERT! If you don't want the surprise spoiled read no further!

The film centers around the development of a "mutant cure." Why be a mutant when you don't have to be one, or so the argument goes. But as Storm (Halle Berry) eloquently states, "we don't need to be cured of being a mutant, it's not a disease." But to many in the rest of society, it is a disease. There's growing concern that the government will force mutants to take the cure. The battle lines then become drawn with Magneto gathering a force of mutants to fight the government and humanity and the X-Men, defending humanity.

A major subplot running through the film is that surrounding the Jean Grey character. At the end of X-2, you may recall that she gave her life to save everyone from the collapsed dam. Eagle- eyed viewers noticed a fiery bird form underneath the water towards the end of the film. The bird form was none other than Phoenix. Here we get a film version of the Phoenix saga.

Mister Fanboy Comics (MFBC): May I interrupt?

MFBM: Can I stop you?

MFBC: No. The Phoenix Saga is seen by many as one of the best comics stories ever. In it, Jean Grey transforms into the Phoenix and the Dark Phoenix (think of it as a Mean Jean), before sacrificing herself to save the universe. And then they ruined all of it by having her come back to life. Continue Mister Fanboy Movies.

MFBM: Umm thanks. First, let's get it out of the way: This film is not filmed by Bryan Singer and it shows. Gone is the multi-layered characterization we saw in the first two films. Ratner has clearly moved the characterization to the background and is focusing on the action, particularly in the last half of the film. Having said that, the film is not as action-oriented as most summer popcorn flicks. Still, action is king. The film is a mutant smackdown and likely a wet dream for some fans. There are 3 major character deaths, lots of minor character deaths, 2 major "resurrections," and lots of depowered mutants (one in particular will shock fans ... if it happened). Also, sit through the closing credits. All of them. Trust me. It's sets up possible sequels for this, the supposed final film.

MFBC: I'm sorry. That crap just pissed me off. Although it's a film, film's should not deviate from the initial work. If it's not a law it should be. Dark Phoenix: Whole new mythology. Where is Mastermind and the Hellfire Club? Rogue/Iceman Relationship: Never happened. Wrong because it was different. And I won't even go into the dead, resurrected and depowered mutants mentioned above because I know the rest of the Mister Fanboy staff will have my head. But suffice it to say, it's just wrong!

MFBM: Wait a sec. I thought that the whole thing about the X-Men was accepting people regardless of their differences.

MFBC: Quiet you. It's my turn now. Juggernaut: Now he's a good guy in the comics. The film should reflect that. Callisto: In the comics, she used to lead a band of mutants living in sewers and had an eyepatch. Where's that? She used to look like a dyke (not that there's anything wrong with that). And what's up with those Tats? Leech: Why is he so presentable? He was living in the sewers with Callisto and now he's all cute and crap. Next thing you know he'll be hitting puberty and on the O.C. As for Jean: What's with this MPD backstory? Huh? And she would never kill _________ or _________.

MFBM: Okay. So your quibbles are with the changes in story right?

MFBC: Quibbles? Are you gay?

MFBM: Wha - Huh?

MFBC: No. There's more than that. Beast, the blue character played by Frasier Crane, should look more like a cat.

MFBM: You mean Kelsey Grammer, don't you?

MFBC: See. There you go again. Fiction equals reality to a comic fan. Next thing, you're going to tell me that I can't call him Sideshow Bob.

MFBM: Moving on ... The acting was about what we came to expect. Storm (Halle Berry) gets lots more screen time. I'll be nice ... She's better than she was in Catwoman, but that's so obvious it's like saying that Paris Hilton is a skank. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), really steals the show. Anna Paquin (Rogue) and James Marsden (Cyclops) are underused, though that appears to be storyline dictated. And the rivalry between Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Pyro (Aaron Stanford) seems very forced. Of course, Ian McKellen (Magneto) and Patrick Stewart (Professor X) are classically trained actors and it shows. We do get to meet some new characters like Warren Worthington, III - a.k.a., Angel (Ben Forster ) and more screen time for some others, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), in particular.

The special effects are quite good, but the final climactic battle between the X-Men and Magneto's Army is somewhat anticlimactic. Part of that has something to do with the fact there was so much action that came before and the other has to do with the confusion caused by the dark nighttime setting. Most of the mutants are wearing black. When they fight at night it's difficult to figure out who is fighting whom. One second it's daytime and the next it's dark and they're fighting - major editing faux pas.

MFBC: Still, I was pretty damn excited to see all the fighting. When Iceman turned to ice in is fight with Pyro, I almost creamed my pants-

MFBM: Nobody wants to know about what's going on in your pants. Anyway, all in all, I enjoyed the film. In terms of a popcorn summer film, it delivered. However, it didn't live up to the expectations set up by either of the earlier films. Film grade: A solid "B."

MFBC: I give it a "B" too, but for different reasons. Brett Ratner is a tool.

MFBM: Methinks I have to agree. Amen to that.

Mister Fanboy: Thanks Mister Fanboy Movies and Mister Fanboy Comics. So folks, what did you think? Let us know in the Comments Section. Also, as the weekend progresses, we'll start posting photos of the actors in the film and a comic rendering of the character, wherever possible.

Moira MacTaggert - sorry, couldn't find a photo of the actress.


Blogger Popcultureboy said...

Julianne Moore was in Hannibal, replacing Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling. Emily Watson was in Red Dragon. And I agree, Brett Ratner is a tool.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Fanboy said...

D'oh. That's what happens when you rush to write a review. My bad. Editing momentarily ...

10:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home