X-Men: The Last Stand
Viewed: 7:15pm 05/27/06
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijin, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Ben Foster, Patrick Stewart, Ellen Page
Directed by: Brett Ratner
20th Century Fox Official Site of the movie
About the Comic: Sadly, this joke would be a lot funnier if you’ve seen the movie and understand the love triangle developed between the characters Rogue, Iceman, and Shadowcat. It pretty much plays out like it does in the comic though, except without the winking. The joke came from a conversation while we waited for the credits to finish so we could see the much-talked-about final scene. Had a great time watching this with my friends and really geeking out at dinner afterwards where we talked about what we loved and what bothered us about the story. There’s no finer way to watch a comic book movie. On to the review!:
People are freaking out over this movie! X-men: The Last Stand, the third in the franchise, pulled in 120 million dollars in the 4 day Memorial day weekend putting it in the record books as one of the largest openings of all time, and number 2 in the best 1 day totals with 45 million on Friday. Last year's Revenge of the Sith still holds the record with 50 million. Since its release I’ve gotten about 2 dozen e-mails from readers anxious to spread their love of the film calling it “The best of the three!” and “A fitting end to a fantastic series!”. People are seriously freaking out over X-men 3. So why aren’t I?
Part of me is happy that the film is doing so well. It didn’t blow me away but I love the X-Men and I love that something that has meant so much to me has connected on such a level with this many people. The movie is fun and fast and a beautiful spectacle of controversy and excessive property damage, but the movie is no major achievement. It’s not better than MI:III which has been able to wiggle across the 100 million dollar mark but will get buried in the great X-freak out of ‘06.
And it will continue. The rest of June offers no major competition of the same category until the release of Superman Returns on June 30th. Movies like The Break Up and The Omen will perform well, and Cars will most likely take the top spot, but X-men is different. All those movies have major appeal but everyone sees a movie like X-3. Everyone. In case you were wondering, my grandma thought it was “the balls.”
To me, the movie doesn’t live up to that hype. It’s too busy and kind of loosely pinned together in a way where one more name on that cast list would have shattered the foundation completely and had us comparing The Last Stand to the last Rob Schneider movie.
The problem for me rests almost completely with how busy the film is. Too many characters doing nothing in too many sub plots leading nowhere. I have no major problems with too much of either as long as it all comes together in the end. Like in the previous films. X-Men and X2:X-Men United are prime examples of using characters with the plot to make the best movie possible. Rogue and Mystique weren’t picked because they’re popular mutants, but because they could best further the story. Adding Nightcrawler to the cast of the sequel wasn’t because the fans demanded it (they did though), it was because they could use his abilities to enhance the story. That’s smart storytelling and that’s what I was looking for.
There’s plenty of potential fresh meat in The Last Stand, and while few further the story, most of them are handled as well as you could expect. The Beast is smart and blue. Check and check. Kelsey Grammer’s voice and demeanor are perfect, and making Beast Secretary of Mutant Affairs and an Xavier’s School alumnus was cool on several different levels. When you finally get to see him in action it’s brief but awesome.
Ben Foster as Angel looked the part but did little beyond swooping dives and dramatic exits. Pretty much what was expected though, I mean… his mutant power is that he’s got wings. That’s it. His role in the early X-men books was to carry his fellow X-Men to the action and retrieve things off of high surfaces. On the cover of X-men number one as the X-Men unleash their best efforts against Magneto, Angel is flying in with a lead pipe. I’m sure that was more impressive in the 1960’s. Still, he’s got a much cooler power than Jones who in The Last Stand is instructed to blink and turn on the TV. I’m not sure if I’m less impressed by Jones’ power or Professor X’s unwillingness to wheel his ass over and turn it on himself.
This film also gave us the appearance of Dark Phoenix, the limitless evil alter ego of Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey. She’s the ultimate villain because she has ultimate levels of power and she’s one of them. Their friend. So much potential that ultimately gives us all the pathos and drama of a thumb war. One of the greatest stories in X-men history becomes a footnote in a collection of footnotes that left me wanting so much more.
Now you’re saying that I’m too connected to the comics. Maybe. I’m not lying when I say I would have loved to have seen Colossus do more than carry a TV and throw Wolverine. I would have loved to seen Juggernaut in action more than once. Instead we get to see them reestablish Wolverine, a character that has been the focal point since day one. I’m not naïve. Wolverine sells comics, Wolverine sells movies and it’s important that he gets the appropriate amount of screen time to round out the full story, but when he leaves the mansion to look for a missing Jean, he couldn’t take one of the newbies with him? I loved watching him battle the jungle thugs, and I’m sure that will be one of the best missions in the video game, but was Shadowcat too busy to tag along?
Ellen Page as Shadowcat was one of the more welcome additions in my opinion. I thought she fit the part perfectly, and we were given the perfect amount of introduction on her history, powers, and intelligence as a character. If they could have done that same level of development with 6 of the other characters I’d be high-fiving right along with the rest of the world. But I wanted more.
The new character that came closest to fulfilling what I’m looking for in a story pushing role is Leech whose power involves disabling other mutants powers -essentially making them powerless when they get within a 3-foot radius of him. From him a “cure” is developed which has every mutant asking the question, “Should I take the cure and be normal, or am I normal just the way I am?” A powerful dilemma that naturally results in many different reactions. So Leech isn’t just a story pusher, he’s a story maker, and that’s great. I couldn’t have been happier because it’s not just a story, it’s an interesting story.
Phil pointed out later that a great solution to the cure storyline and the evil all-powerful Phoenix storyline would be to get Leech within 3 feet of Phoenix thus negating her powers so someone could come in and knock her out. That’s not even attempted though. That would’ve been cool.
It was that sort of connection between character and story that really would have hit the spot. Instead both stories putter along independently, almost ignorant of each other until it’s time for them to end and they just do. So much of the movie's happenings were inconsequential or added up to nothing. Phoenix takes out some major characters. The first one is killed for no reason. There’s no motivation behind it other than this person needs to be gone.
Normally the blatant pointless deletion of a character would bother me, but it helps the rest of the story. For some characters, it was time to go, and their departure clears room for others to step up and fill the void. The much publicized ultimatum of Halle Berry’s return hinging on more screen time and more to do was fulfilled, and I’m glad. With Jean and a distraught Cyclops out of the picture, the opportunity for Storm to take part in every major conversation and battle was realized. And as Wolverine and Storm constantly show up for every event it’s easy to see how consistency like this would have helped other aspects of the story.
I could have watched a whole movie on the love triangle between Rogue, Bobby, and Kitty. I could have watched a whole movie on the mutant cure, on the Dark Phoenix, or even on flashbacks of a polished Professor X and Magneto recruiting young mutants for their new school. And I believe that all the stories could have been blended together. But I’m not sure The Last Stand is the ideal example of that. I wish there was more.
Rating: 6 out of 10
No matter what I want, The Last Stand seems to be pleasing audiences everywhere. And that’s good. It raises my hopes of a Wolverine movie and a 4th X-film. Even if it’s not the movie I want it to be it’s still better than not having it. I love movies, and I love the X-men, so bring it on.
I could go on more about this movie, but this is enough for now. If I can manage it I’ll do another comic and talk spoilers, in the meanwhile there’s a nice spoiler discussion thread taking place over on the Pimp boards. I'll lay out some spoiler free goodness there in the morning.
Yeah, I’ll add this one to the pile because it has a lot of fun moments worth reliving. I also feel like it will play better a second and third time through. X2 I think is a better movie but plays a little slow after a few viewings. I think the quick collage of story and action lend towards The Last Stand having a stronger shelf life. I’m not one for buying DVDs just to round out collections, but I do love crap so X-Men 3 will feel right at home on my shelf.
If you liked this movie check out: Superman 2
Superman 2 echoes The Last Stands major storyline, which is the choice between having powers and not having powers. Both cases are extremely different. With X3 some of the people are just choosing between looking like a monster and not looking like a monster. Superman doesn’t look like a monster. But his god-like powers and secret identity are a huge burden leading to a fantastic story chronicling Superman’s most difficult decision ever.
Superman 2 happens to be my favorite of the franchise though I admit that that has more to do with Zod than the questionable need of power. Superman 2 was able to translate that dilemma with more power, and more emotion than The Last Stand, and they were still able to make it a kick ass action movie. Someone throws a bus at him. That’s awesome!
I’d chalk its superiority up to clarity. There’s a lot less going on so we’re able to focus on the more tender moments and knock down drag out fights with more care and attention. Because of that we have more invested in the ultimate outcome. Plus somebody throws a bus at him. Come on!
Trailer Hitch: Ghost Rider
looks great. I was never a huge Ghost Rider
fan. I did grow up in the age of comics where even the casual collector collected everything, so I’ve read a couple dozen Ghost Rider mags, but I’m far from a fan. I would say the same however about Blade
and I love that franchise. The first two thirds of it anyway. And I eagerly await the sure to be awful Blade TV series on the Spike
network. Ghost Rider has the same appeal. Horror and action combined with fanboy charm. It’s a nice blend that can be really entertaining.
Specifically, the Ghost Rider trailer has some spotty effects on the villains but nails GR and his bike. They look fantastic riding up the edge of a building with a fiery linked chain swirling behind. Perfect use of effects. A lot of people are nervous about Nick Cage because he’s been so desperate for so long to play a superhero on the big screen, but I don’t see anything to really worry about. The guy goes too big sometimes, but even his bad movies are a lot of fun. I don’t see why this would be any different. There was one point a couple of years ago where he was up for the role of Superman. How weird would that have been? I say let him have the super hero that spends most of the movie as a flaming skull.
Today’s incentive is just an image of Angel being as deadly as he can be. Pretty silly huh? It’s no wonder that 25 years after he was created they gave him metal wings and lavender skin. Lavender is the new black. Thanks to everyone that’s been voting at Buzz and Top Web Comics. I owe you guys a double incentive day. One will come soon, I promise.
Non Movie Related Stuff.
I make a little appearance today in the new Multiplex with Tom. How cool is that!? Thanks for the love Gordon! There’s actually a funny story behind this appearance that I’ll tell one day. I just have to finalize my end of things. Thanks for reading folks, see you soon!
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Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V