It will be ten years at the end of this month since X-Men: The Last Stand hit theaters and was met with some very divisive reviews. I can admit that when this first came out I saw it twice. Oh younger me, not willing to admit that there were flaws in this film. Ever since then I’ve tended to ignore this entry in the series. I never bought it on DVD and maybe caught parts of it when it aired on TV. But with X-Men: Apocalypse coming soon I wanted to objectively watch The Last Stand and see if it’s better, worse, or just the same as I remembered. So let’s dig in.
For those of you who do not know this film had a tough production. Bryan Singer left the franchise to make Superman Returns for Warner Brothers and instead of waiting 20th Century Fox wanted to move ahead. A number of names came up as directorial replacements including Joss Whedon, Darren Aronofsky, and Richard Kelly but it was Matthew Vaughn the studio picked after his directorial debut Layer Cake was such a success. He began work until the tight deadline and family issues lead to him exiting the project. It would be Rush Hour director Brett Ratner who would come in at the eleventh hour to keep the wheels spinning. Between that and an incomplete script it was going to be thankless task to see this project to the finish line.
This has always been the main strength of the franchise from the beginning. Bryan Singer built a cast that was impeccable starting with veterans Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan and ending with then unknown Hugh Jackman. This time around brought the additions of Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Kelsey Grammer (Beast), Vinnie Jones (The Juggernaut… BITCH!) and Ben Foster (Angel). All of them fit in perfectly for the most part with the original cast. And as someone who has always loved Beast it was amazing to finally see him in all his blue furry glory. Grammer conveyed the scholarly mind that came with McCoy’s rough exterior perfectly. My only real problem was the lack of Nightcrawler who was the stand out from X2: X-Men United and giving Angel next to no screentime. I for one had no problem with Halle Berry wanting to do more with Storm as she definitely got scaled back in X2. As for Famke Janssen, well when you don’t know how to do the “The Dark Phoenix Saga” justice it’s hard to play that role.
Oh boy, this is where things get interesting. Taking two very complex storylines from the comics and trying to condense them into a film that’s less then two hours is going to make for some issues. The Dark Phoenix Saga is complex and had been teased in the previous film. What we got was Famke Janssen pretty much almost sleepwalking through the role. It was a shame as the original writers teased the idea of Emma Frost (played by Sigourney Weaver in this alternate film) manipulating Jean to use her powers. On the other side was the cure plot from the “Gifted” comic storyline. I always liked this moral dilemma and how it played out amongst the characters. Seeing Rogue deal with her conflicted issues of whether to stay a mutant or take the cure is so powerful. The film’s biggest problem lays in some terrible dialogue. Between the, “Grow those back.” and “I’m the Juggernaut Bitch!” lines the humor is terrible. And of course having to write Cyclops out of the story. With Marsden going with Singer he didn’t have much time to shoot X-Men 3. So instead of just leaving Cyclops out of the film they needlessly killed him off. It felt like a waste then and it still does. Another minor nitpick was how Magneto abandoned Mystique after sacrificing herself to save him. It felt out of character to me then and still does.
I’ve got to hand it to Ratner and co., they didn’t come in and try to make this film look completely different from Singer’s previous entries. In spite of the fact that this is nearly an entirely different crew you’d never know from watching it. I don’t know if this was a studio mandate or Ratner wanting to keep things par for the course, but I think it works well. And when it comes to visual F/X this film still holds up. Being ten years old there are some minor issues with CGI (the floating rocks). Considering they had a 210 million dollar budget it was some of the best at the time. As always the make-up is aces with Beast looking great.
So what did I think re-visiting X-Men: The Last Stand after all these years? It’s not the abysmal piece of garbage the Internet makes it out to be. That being said, it does have issues and is a film that could’ve been saved if they had just taken the time to hone the script and wait another year to release it. As usual what are your thoughts? Did you like X-Men: The Last Stand? Are you excited to see the upcoming entry in the series? Would you like to see the franchise get rebooted after sixteen years in the same continuity?
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