You have a job you like. And one day you go into work and your boss, someone you admire and respect, is gone. Now there’s a new guy. That makes you nervous because your boss was pretty cool and the new guy has a lot to live up to. But you’re a decent person so you decide to give the new guy a chance.
X-MEN III: THE LAST STAND was not directed by Bryan Singer (APT PUPIL, X-MEN, X2). Instead Brett Ratner (RED DRAGON) is in the director’s chair. The writers this time are Simon Kinberg (XXX: STATE OF THE UNION) and Zak Penn (INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS).
The story opens “twenty years ago” when Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart: LIFEFORCE, THE X-MEN [all] STAR TREK:TNG) and Magneto (Ian McKellan: APT PUPIL, LORD OF THE RINGS, THE X-MEN [all]) were still friends (or maybe more than friends, as Ian McKellan has implied). They arrive at the house of young Jean Grey (played as a child by Haley Ramm and as an adult by Famke Janssen: THE FACULTY, THE X-MEN [all]) a powerful psychic mutant. Charles wants to recruit her for his school for the gifted.
Then we jump to “ten years ago” and see a young boy in a bathroom. He’s desperately cutting something off his back, trying to hide it from his father.
Finally we’re in the present. Here we see Wolverine (Hugh Jackman: THE X-MEN [all], VAN HELSING), Storm (Halle Berry: THE X-MEN [all], GOTHIKA), Rogue (Anna Paquin: THE X-MEN [all], DARKNESS), Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore: THE X-MEN [all], BLOOD MOON), and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page: HARD CANDY) in an apocalyptic ruined cityscape, fighting a giant robot.
Fans of the X-Men comic will immediately say, “Sentinels!” Yes, it’s a Sentinel, but you don’t really see it – just glowing eyes in the dark. The only reason you know it’s a Sentinel is because you see the severed robot head briefly after it’s destroyed. And it wasn’t real anyway – this was just the X-men working out in the “Danger Room” (their version of a holodeck).
The issue of the day is the announcement by a pharmaceutical company that they have a “cure” for mutants. They have a drug that suppresses the mutant gene and turns mutants into normal people. The cure comes from a special mutant named Jimmy (Cameron Bright: THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, ULTRAVIOLET) whose power is suppressing other mutants’ powers. This is pretty much the same part Cameron Bright played in ULTRAVIOLET, by the way.
Mutants are split on the cure issue. Some find it insulting, to imply that they have a disease. Others are eager for it because they want to fit in. Rogue, whose power is that she drains the life force of anyone she touches, feels isolated from everyone and is interested in the cure.
Magneto sees the cure as genocide and is ready to go to war. He begins recruiting more people into his brotherhood of mutants, which already includes Pyro (Aaron Stanford: X-MEN II, THE HILLS HAVE EYES ) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn: THE X-MEN [all], THE PUNISHER, FEMME FATALE). Man, there are a lot of characters in this movie!
The cure becomes the policy of the current President (a different guy from the last movie so this is at least months but probably years later), which leaves the administration’s Secretary of Mutant Affairs, Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast (Kelsey Grammer: THE PENTAGON WARS [TV]), with divided loyalties.
Meanwhile, on plot B, Cyclops (James Marsden: THE X-MEN [all], DISTURBING BEHAVIOR) is still devastated by the death of his girlfriend Jean Grey. He starts hearing her voice in his head and makes his way back to Alkaline lake where she drowned. As you saw in the TV ads, Jean is alive and hops right out of the lake, which makes you wonder what she was doing in there all this time.
Jean has changed. She’s got a whole new personality and outlook on life and she’s not exactly… but no, I’ll stop there. It’s time to move on and tell you the important stuff, like did it suck. There’s just one brief detour for a
Magneto’s power is the ability to generate powerful magnetic fields and this is always shown by having him move metal around. But magnets can do more than that. There are a lot of experiments going on with TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). Properly applied magnetic fields can alter the electrical fields in your brain and activate or de-activate specific brain areas. It would take some experimentation, something Magneto is not shy about, but his power should also allow him to alter the emotions of the people around him. Beyond that, very strong magnetic fields are fatal for cordate life forms because your spinal fluid is slightly magnetic. Ouch.
Okay, I’ve put it off long enough. My not so subtle hints at the beginning were my way of getting you ready for the bad news. This movie sucks. It’s boring, the dialogue is plodding and cliché-ridden, the special effects are sub-par and there are huge, gaping plot holes all over the place. Like why did they feel it was necessary to kill one character when a non-lethal, obvious method worked just fine on another character only moments before?
I know from the first two films that these are all good actors so that means the blame lies with the screenwriters and (especially) the director. But I’m choosing not to blame the director. I’m blaming the studio, who decided to hire Ratner in spite of his obvious short comings (did I mention RUSH HOUR?).