STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Aaron Stanford, Cameron Bright, Vinnie Jones, Ben Foster, Ellen Page, Josef Sommer

2006, 104 Minutes, Directed by: Brett Ratner

When fan favorite Bryan Singer announced he wouldn’t direct the third installment of the X-Men franchise to rather direct the new Superman Returns movie, fans were appalled at the director hired to replace him, namely Bret Ratner, best known for his rather humdrum work on the Jackie Chan Rush Hour movies.

No doubt visions of what happened to another superhero series when the director accredited with successfully bringing that series to the big screen left: director Tim Burton who departed after Batman and Batman Returns to be replaced by Joel Schumacher for Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.

Thankfully there are no nipple caps on Wolverine’s costume, or any camp deviations whatsoever from the template set by Bryan Singer. Director Ratner plays it straight and X-Men: The Last Stand fits in nicely with the previous two films. Not as good as the excellent X2, but perhaps even better than the very first X-Men movie.

Sure, Ratner has some lapses where a more imaginative director would have conjured up a better shot or framed a scene better, but Last Stand is a worthy follow up and well worth seeing. As far as third installments in superhero franchises go, X-Men suffered a better fate than most just think Batman Forever and Superman III, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Faint praise perhaps, but X-Men: The Last Stand doesn’t disappoint. There are some plot twists (spoiler alert: some major characters buy it!), the effects are generally well done and the actors acquit themselves well. On the downside, some of the ethical issues thrown up by the plot’s premise are never really properly investigated, the movie instead opting for a big action finale. Also, many characters are woefully underdeveloped and the movie could benefit from a longer running time to spend more time on the various characters and their dilemmas. But that’s what the “director’s cut” DVD will be there for I suppose.

Another weak point is that some of the film’s endings negate what has happened before and sets up things for yet another sequel. If there is however to be another installment and with the film’s good box office thus far there probably will be it would be best to introduce some new villains and feature some of the newer faces in this particular installment.



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