X-Men the Last Stand is an SFX-driven, emotionally-charged comic book movie that attempts to delve deeper thematically on the lives of its characters. However, the franchise loses its full potential due to its underdeveloped characters that merely rely on flashy pyrotechnics and special effects.
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To the disciples of X-Men, no doubt that this new Marvel comic book adaptation is an eye-filling fantasy extravaganza that delivers spectacular action and effects. Yet, considering its cinematic values, it is a mediocre film with many opportunities lost. Its socio-political relevance is in the surface and it doesn’t strike the heart. Its weighty themes of alienation, discrimination, responsibility, and love are not well-utilized. The tragedies leave the viewers feeling considerably cold about the events. In fact, other than the well-exposed angst of the characters, the deaths of some major characters don’t even give enough emotional intensity. The viewers are not able to connect much with them.
The story crams with its stunning number of mutant characters. It loses much significant emotional engagement for the audience. The poor character development puts less emotional weight and this contributes to the weakness of its production and thematic values.
Taking this third film from former X-Men director Bryan Singer, new director Brett Ratner makes this new one a “mainstreamly-enjoyable mutant-palooza of superpowers.” It doesn’t keep up with a hard-core comic book look like its predecessors, but it puts up a real show meant for the X-Men fanatics’ gratification. As a known music video director, he handles the film with tight and strong-willed visuals and anger-pegged plot and treatment–all to unite its overall theme and concept. However, he fails to make the mutant characters really evolve, film-wise.
The original X-Men team is back: the bit more groomed and tamed Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman); the unloved and striving Storm/Ororo Munroe in a new hairdo (Halle Berry); the forever opposing mutant leaders Professor X/Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto/Eric Lensherr (Ian McKellen); the shortest screen time for Cyclops/Scott Summers (James Marsden); the very minimal screen time and undeveloped human role of Rogue/Marie (Anna Paquin) who could have been removed in the film without affecting the story; the hairy and airtime-filled Secretary of Mutant affairs Dr. Henry McCoy/Beast (Kelsey Grammer) who has been too dependent on his blue tinge that his acting tend to fall off the ceiling; the semi-developed character and suddenly sprouting out of nowhere role of Angel/Warren Worthington (Ben Foster); the short-lived, but effective action role of Mystique/Raven Darkhome (Rebecca Romijn); the powerful but isolated mutant kid Jimmy (Cameron Bright); the too strained duo of rivals Iceman/Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) and Pyro/John Allerdyce (Aaron Stanford); the superficial roles of Juggernaut/Cain Marko (Vinnie Jones), Callisto (Dania Ramirez), Kid Omega (Ken Leung), and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page); and the resurrected, evolved, cosmic-powered and rare class 5 mutant Jean Grey/Phoenix (Famke Janssen).
Facing the evolution of Jean Grey into the ghastly, but ultimately powerful Dark Phoenix generates plenty of screen time, but her character still lacks depth. The world-consuming power of the Phoenix is presented in appealingly red visuals, but not as literally and figuratively fiery as in the comic book and TV series. There are hundreds of background mutants mostly without decent characterizations not that far from the major and supporting characters. Looks like the makers of this movie have become too overwhelmed with superpowers that they tend to put as much mutants as they can while all their characterizations suffer.
The audience demographics becomes larger with the aging of the patrons of the X-Men comic book and TV series, plus the newer generation adding up to the fad. No weak details can ruin the satisfaction X-Men fans get from watching the movie.
The social issues and multi-faceted layers uplifting the X-Men franchise could have created a major fantasy-action opus. The metaphors are very open to various plays. Like how its fellow superhero movie addresses it, “With power comes great responsibility,” X-Men: The Last Stand relates to the idea that mutants can retain their uniqueness as wonders to keep their lives up to higher levels of challenges or give up their powers to become human and be accepted in the society. From these choices come the complications and contentions for the story to evolve. These issues promote a rich path towards creating a masterpiece. However, the mainstream constraints from its makers hinder this route.
This film finale for a hugely ambitious trilogy could have scaled down to focus more on the interaction among the characters and not just plainly becoming a plot-driven movie adaptation promoting the comic book movie genre. It is visually spectacular, but alienating. It impresses, but fails to move the general audience.