Awfully Good: X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Director: Brett Ratner
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen

When the government discovers a cure for mutation, Jean Grey is resurrected as the dangerously powerful Phoenix, and Magneto wages a final war against humankind, the X-Men must battle an overload of forgettable characters and conflicting storylines.

People always cite SPIDER-MAN 3 as an example of a movie being overstuffed with too many characters and plot points. Have they not seen X-MEN:THE LAST STAND? This festering ass pimple on the mutant franchise makes Sam Raimi's last superhero movie look like a Terrence Malick film.

The unrated cut featured the original subplot about Beast's struggle with Tourette's.

Normally I would blame Brett Ratner for, well… everything. But LAST STAND had a famously troubled pre-production before he even came onboard, starting with the loss of Bryan Singer and his creative team to SUPERMAN RETURNS. Regardless, Fox announced a May 2006 release date despite having no director attached. They eventually hired Matthew Vaughn, only to have him drop out as well. By the time The Rat was brought in with less than a year left, I suspect the entire movie was already designed, prepped and ready to go. In this case, the blame falls on the writers for one of the sloppiest screenplays ever filmed.

From the opening, which features creepy, digitally airbrushed versions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen (and a credit sequence that zooms in to Angel's gaping wing wound), there's just so much wrong with this movie that I can't even form a coherent thinkings about it. So here's a list of some of the reasons why X-MEN: THE LAST STAND blows goats:

The sex tape Colossus made with his girlfriend was in no way sexy.

Too many plots. Singer did a great job setting up the Dark Phoenix saga at the end of X2, but of course that epic storyline isn't enough for one movie. If I were to list out all the stuff that happens in this film, you would laugh that someone thought it could all mesh in to a single, cohesive plot. The result is utter nonsense, without any development, thematic layers or even basic narrative connective tissue. It's almost as if the studio realized, "Oh crap, we put the word 'last' in the title. We better shove in as much comic book stuff as we can: Dark Phoenix, the cure, the final mutant-human showdown, a love triangle… Hell, let's throw in a Sentinel to shut those nerds up!"

Too many characters. Along with all those storylines, the script also introduces an absurd number of new mutants to the already massive cast and has no idea how to balance them. Everyone except for franchise darling Hugh Jackman is relegated to essentially cameo status. While part of the writers' solution is to start killing off characters for no reason (see below), their other tactic is just terrible writing that ignores all character development and motivation. Formerly important team members like Rogue are literally written out of the story because the script has no idea what to do with them. Storm, though inadvertently given a leader role on paper, is actually less memorable than in the previous films. And much anticipated new mutant Angel is in the movie for maybe three scenes. His conflict with his father, the centerpiece of the cure plot, solely consists of the ashamed dad trying to fix his son in one scene, only to later be saved in another by the very mutant powers he despised. That's it. It's like the writers didn't even bother to elaborate on their outline note cards.

"Why yes, I do look like Optimus Prime's penis."

Killing Cyclops off screen. Granted, Scott Summers was never truly done justice as the leader of the X-Men in the first two movies, but he still deserved better than to be vaporized off camera in the first act. As Jean Grey/Phoenix's love interest, this should've been the entry where his character finally gets to shine. The writers tried to say they did it to set the dramatic stakes (ala WRATH OF KHAN), but sadly we can all surmise the truth—Cyclops gets offed this way because they were grumpy that James Marsden chose Singer's side by appearing in SUPERMAN RETURNS.

Professor X. Charles Xavier is a total dick in this movie. It's such a bizarre choice and Patrick Stewart is such a great actor that I almost like it. Instead of the brilliant, sensible mentor we know and love, THE LAST STAND's Professor X has been psychically controlling and manipulating Jean Grey since she was a kid and essentially taking away her free will. He's childish ("I don’t have to explain myself to you!") and spiteful ("What have you done? I warned you!") and then—like Cyclops—he also gets vaporized by Phoneix midway through! And for some reason right before he bites it, he turns to Logan and gives him what might be the creepiest smile ever captured on film, as if he's saying "This is your fault, asshole." (The impact of losing arguably the series' most important character is felt for one scene before they cut to Iceman and Kitty Pryde ice skating.)

Smugness… Engage.

The Brotherhood. Magneto is also a dick in this movie, mainly because he immediately abandons Mystique as soon as she gets hits by the cure while protecting him, literally leaving her naked and alone on the floor. (Another way the script writes out a major character.) However, his entire Brotherhood is laughable this time out. His new recruits include Porcupine Man, who is only dangerous if you let him hug you, and Vinnie Jones in a rubber muscle suit as The Juggernaut. And yes, he does say "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!"—probably the first time an Internet parody video has dictated dialogue in a Hollywood blockbuster. Best of all, the Brotherhood hides out by camping in tents in the woods. Their evil lair looks like the cover of an L.L. Bean catalog.

Embrace me. I dare you!

The unnecessary love triangle. Ellen Page was hot off the success of HARD CANDY at the time, but she was completely wrong for Kitty Pryde—mainly because she looks eight years old and Shawn Ashmore and Anna Paquin are clearly in their mid to late 20s. I don't even know if this counts as a love triangle: Rogue sees her boyfriend spending time with another girl at the beginning of the movie, gets mad and leaves without telling him. So Iceman spends the rest of the movie with Kitty Pryde, growing closer emotionally and fighting alongside each other in the finale. Then in the last minute of the movie, Rogue comes back and is like "I got the cure, so I'm no longer a mutant but I'll stay at this school for mutants. Now you can love me!" Who am I supposed to root for here? It would be easier if they just killed off these three characters too.

The lack of action. Aside from the brief Danger Room training sequence, a short fight in the woods and Jean Grey redecorating a house with Professor X particles, there are zero scenes of supposed excitement until the big finale. And this movie cost over $200 million to make.

Vin Diesel's cameo was kept top secret.

The finale. For some reason, the government is keeping their mutant cure (a young boy named Leech whose mutant power is to kill other mutant powers) on Alcatraz Island because it's the country's most secure location, despite being a well-known tourist attraction open to the public. Magneto's big plan is to move the Golden Gate Bridge so his mutant minions can walk to the island and kill the boy, giving the X-Men plenty of time to come in and fight them off in a big, horribly executed final showdown. This might be a little picky, but couldn't you find a better way to destroy the facility then sending in your goons, Magneto? You just moved the freaking Golden Gate Bridge. Pick up something heavy and drop it on the building.

"My mutant power is sadness."

Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix. Oh yeah, she's in the movie too. I forgot. Phoenix zaps a couple people in the first act, but beside that she literally spends the entire movie just standing around. Even throughout the final battle she just stands there in the background until everything is finished and the script has room for her. At that point she just starts zapping people again, prompting Wolverine to come in and save her because apparently he's the only actual hero in these movies. So instead of the touching moment in the comics where Jean decides to sacrifice herself to save everyone, we get to see Wolverine cry as he stabs her to death. Man, if only he had been standing in a literal stockpile of vaccines that cured people of their mutant ailments!

Ta-da! It's crap!

Even the film's final moments manage to be filled with stupidity, like world famous terrorist Magneto sitting out in a public park or the X-Men inviting the mutant cure kid to attend their school and hang around other mutants all day. Some of this may sound bad in an entertaining way, but just thinking about how horribly this movie screwed up the promise of X2 and left the franchise in ruins save for spinoffs and prequels, just makes me sad and angry. Good luck fixing all this, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST!

The best of Juggernaut's Oscar-worthy dialogue.

This greatest hits montage includes Wolverine kicking nuts, the world's greatest security guard, and laughable emotional moments.

Somewhere John Stamos is crying in to a pillow.

Take a last stand against quality filmmaking! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Someone gets vaporized
  • Someone does something out of character
  • Something happens that doesn't follow continuity with other X-Men films
  • Hugh Jackman looks goofy in his costume
  • Porcupine Man shows his quills
  • Juggernaut says something stupid
Double shot if:
  • The Fastball Special is achieved

Thanks to Eric and Johnny for suggesting this week's movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: When I visited the set of X:MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST last year, writer Simon Kinberg said he was using the time travel elements of that film to "right some of the wrongs we might have done in X3." Fingers crossed.
Source: JoBlo.com



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