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Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

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January 11th, 2010

By Bryan Watson “Liberty or death, what we so proudly hail. Once you provoke her, rattling on her tail, So be it, Threaten no more, To secure peace is to prepare for war” – Metallica, Don’t Tread on Me

 

Many of us have been anxiously waiting for three years for the third and possibly final installment to the X-Men film franchise.  This past weekend $107 million worth of fans got their wish.  Geek that I am, I was among them. 

Okay, so I grew up in a rural area bordered closely by several suburbs.  This meant that in my hometown there was nothing.  No McDonalds because the village to the north had one, no bookstores because the mall to the south had those, and certainly no comic book shops.  As such my knowledge of the superhero world was limited to whatever Saturday morning cartoons were available at the time and also to the few movies that had been made.  So by the time the X-Men came to television in the form of a 30-minute cartoon, I was already in junior high and much too old for this sort of thing.  (Author’s note:  The previous sentence is what we in student ministry have given the scientific designation of Fibious Maximus, literally “big lie”, I watched the show religiously.  Maybe this is part of the reason why I had no friends.) [Discuss this in the forums]

Sure there were other teams out there, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, but aside from the Justice League of America, the X-Men have long been my favorite team of superheroes.  Why/?  I suppose that the whole concept of the X-men is something along the lines of: everybody feels lonely from time to time, like they’re on the outside, but there’s always a place where you can belong.  That concept appeals to people, and that’s the idea that the first two films seemed to focus on.  How about the third?  Well . . .

From the beginning we knew that there were going to be at least three films, and looking at it from this perspective X3 could very easily be considered the third act to a very long play, where all the players are in place, and the final showdown is about to begin.

The showdown here comes in the form of a “cure” for mutation.  Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who leads the X-Men believes that each individual should be able to choose for themselves whether or not to take the treatment.  The government, of course, can barely restrain itself from forcing the cure on the population, while Magneto (Ian McKellen) fearing just such an outcome, resolves to take the cure away by force.

This he does by picking up the Golden Gate Bridge and magnetically moving it between the shore and Alcatraz Island where the research facility for the cure is housed.  (It would have been a lot less obvious and likely easier on Magneto to simply put all his troops in a bus or two and carry those over, but we all know that it wouldn’t look nearly as cool.)  And of course the X-Men intervene.

This is an action film.  If you’re expecting a decent story like you got in X2, you’re going to be disappointed.  Not that the story here is bad, it just doesn’t live up to its predecessor.  I personally would like to have seen more done with the Phoenix character (Famke Janssen), but when good movies start moving past three installments bad things can happen, so I let it slide.  As an action film, it works.  It’s not that far above average, but it works.

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