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X-Men: The Last Stand

Genre: Action / Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Brett Ratner
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Kelsey Grammer, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden
Released by: 20th Century Fox

In Short: Leaden dialogue and recycled plot points drag down the star-studded cast in this comic book sequel.

No Cure for Sequelitis
Third Installment Isn't Built to "Last"
By Jeff Hoyt

Ingredients for a quality film:

• Talented award-winning cast? At least four Emmys, two Oscars and a knighthood qualify.
• State-of-the-art special effects? Moving the Golden Gate Bridge during rush hour to launch an assault on Alcatraz Island ought to do it.
• Well-written script? Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

With a built-in audience, this third installment of the Marvel mutant comic book series should conquer the box office. Sadly, it seems the filmmakers decided to aim their talents no higher than the 14-year-olds who will make up the bulk of their repeat customers.

Teenagers can relate to mutants, as both groups feel alienated from a society that can’t hope to understand them. In the first two installments, the triangular lines of battle between humans, good mutants and evil mutants were well-drawn, as was the love triangle between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Here the fighting seems staged, as characters only battle with specific rivals, the love triangle continues despite not everyone being alive, and another love triangle starts, but goes nowhere.

The first hint that the story has problems is the necessity of adding two flashbacks to the top of a film that already has two predecessors. (Look for X-Men comic creator Stan Lee’s cameo.) The hook has potential: a “cure” has been developed that will make mutants human. But is it a cure or a weapon? Which of our favorite mutants will lose their powers, willingly or not?

Sadly, those questions don’t really seem worth pondering when faced with the resurrection of Jean Grey, who “died” in the last X-Men film. Once writers can kill off characters and then bring them back, it’s hard to care about who lives and dies in battle. Any plot point can be reversed to keep sequel cash flowing.

While Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) fight over Jean’s new powers in their continuing battle of good and evil, each has added to their mutant ranks. Magneto recruits "The Transporter’s" violent Vinny Jones, who gets a big laugh by announcing his character, “I’m the Juggernaut, bi**h!”) The good mutants get goody-two-shoes Kelsey Grammer as the Beast, whose battle growl is more funny than ferocious.

By the end, the leaden dialogue and recycled plot points make the whole exercise seem like a space-age soap opera. Enjoy the hair-raising effects, and stick around to the end for a few surprises. Let’s just say, depending on the box office, that this might not be The Last Stand after all.



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