After the phenomenal success of X-Men 2, Fox studios immediately green-lit a third instalment to complete the X-Men trilogy. Bryan Singer, director of the first two films was too busy working on Superman Returns and stepped down. Initially Darren Aronofsky and Joss Whedon were both attached to the project, but a series of clashes with other films forced their withdrawal and with a few weeks to go until shooting commenced, the studio brought in Brett Ratner to direct.
Following the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) at the end of X-Men 2, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) aware that Cyclops (James Marsden) isn’t dealing with the tragedy well, entrusts the training of the next generation of X-Men to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Storm (Halle Berry). While visiting the place of her death, Cyclops sees Jean resurrected in a new form. Suddenly aware of this new presence on Earth, Professor X and old-time rival Magneto (Ian McKellen) both try to convince her to join them in the battle for mutant rights. Meanwhile the Government announce plans for a ‘cure’ to the mutations that some have experienced which causes dissension in the ranks of the mutant population.
Following on the narrative themes of the original films, while loosely based on the Dark Phoenix series of X-Men comics, X-Men: The Last Stand can only be considered a disappointment. Ratner clearly has his eye on the future as many of the original cast are moved aside early on to make way for the next generation of heroes who include Shadowcat (Ellen Page), Angel (Ben Foster) and Beast (Kelsey Grammer). While there is no problem with this approach very little time is given to them to develop their characters, so when they finally get into combat it’s difficult to care what happens to them.
Luckily for X-Men: The Last Stand, what Ratner lacks in pacing, storytelling and character he almost makes up for in ballsy decision-making and stunning set piece scenes. Once he’s cleared away a lot of the original cast in some outrageous and completely bizarre ways he then gets to the action and gets it almost completely right. Whether it’s a flying Golden Gate Bridge, a feral Beast going for the jugular or Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) flinging Wolverine at any number of enemies, the action scenes are every bit as impressive as X-Men 2 and still better than in the original. There’s even nods to fan boys of the series including a giant Sentinel head in the beginning, the Storm/Callisto showdown or finally getting to see Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) going full icicle.
Sadly there are simply too many characters, too much back story to get through and not enough depth to satisfy in the same way that the second installment of the X-Men trilogy managed. Brett Ratner does his best, but with some clunky dialogue and some horrible miscasting (why is Vinnie Jones playing Juggernaut?) X-Men: The Last Stand sends the trilogy out on a bum-note.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)