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Movie Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

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If you do not relate to the term “fanboy” or you have never found yourself foaming at the mouth over changes made to a series you’ve loved, then you do not know how furious it must have made Marvel Comics fans who went to see X-Men: The Last Stand. Now I see what all the negativity was about.

Now, for a couple-dozen minutes, it’s all good: we all know Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) met her end in the last film, X2: X-Men United. We also know that Jean Grey returns; at least you have to know because she has a big role in the film. What happens after those 24 minutes or so is a warping and twisting of the X-Men canon that most fans of the Marvel Comics series would retch at the sight of. It’s not to say that these major plot points will anger people who have never picked up an X-Men title. The Last Stand is a solid film on its own, but it really shreds and fiddles with what we X-fans all know about our favorite mutants.

The film begins two decades before the present time, when Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erick Lensherr (Ian McKellen), the future villain Magneto, go to recruit a young Jean Grey for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. This is an important moment in the history of the X-Men because Jean Grey’s mutant ability is telepathy and her power has a potential that Xavier saw and wanted to help mold. While a young Jean Grey saw the benefit to her mutation, a young Warren Worthington III (10 years later) does not find his angelic wings to be a blessing, but a curse.

This sets the scene for the two major plot points, the return of Jean Grey and the discovery of a “cure” for all mutant-kind. Word of this cure first reaches the hands of a mutant named Beast (Kelsey Grammer) who is a member of the government’s mutant affairs division. Beast is friends with Xavier, so he gives him warning about this cure. While Xavier does oppose this new creation by Worthington Labs, he is not willing to take matters into his own hands through violence. His old comrade Magneto, on the other hand, is more than willing to kill anyone, mutant or human, who gets in the way of him and the newly expanded Brotherhood destroying this “cure.”

This is where things get hinky for people who know and love the X-Men series. Without giving out any spoilers, all I can say is that things happen that aren’t supposed to according to X-Men history. There are also certain people who show up where they don’t exactly belong and finally, the Juggernaut’s (Vinnie Jones) history is totally turned on its head. This is the only bit of info I can expose without spoiling it for any potential viewers.

In X-Men: The Last Stand, the Juggernaut is now a mutant, he doesn’t seem to have any relation to Professor Xavier and he has, well, Vinnie Jones’ British accent. I think that fans will overlook these details because they will be too busy pulling out their hair at what happens at every step of this film.

I would like to expose myself as an X-Heretic because I do not think that these monumental changes in the X-Men story make the movie bad. I have already read and seen various incarnations of X-Men stories. I already know the story behind the Phoenix saga. What’s wrong with giving fans a story where they will not be able to tell what’s going to happen next? Every X-Men film has not followed the X-Men comics to the letter, but the problem for X-fans here is that the screenwriters have gone off the deep end into a totally different direction that just will not sit well with people who know and love nearly every mutant who appears in this mutantfest. Hey, at least a lot of the mutants we fans have always wanted to see on the big screen are represented (except for Gambit, damn you) and get to toe-to-toe with each other.

Now, for you non-X fans. It’s okay, you can watch (and enjoy) this film. Please take my word for it. X-Men: The Last Stand is a solid sci-fi action comic book movie with stunning special effects, good performances from everyone involved and strong fight choreography. The total disregard for X-Men history should not bother you, because you don’t know much about the source material. X-Men: The Last Stand is a worthwhile night at the movies. If you find any fault with this film, I believe the writers are to blame, not X-Men’s new director Brett Ratner, who took a lot of crap for helming this.

Oh, and before I go, be sure to stay after the credits roll for a special bonus scene!

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About VichusSmith

  • Dynamo of Eternia

    They did change way too much for this movie.

    Some changes are necessary to adapt things into movie form. I was happy with the previous two movies, and the change in Juggernaut’s history in this one was fine with me. Sure, he is now a mutant, instead of having magical powers and being Xavier’s brother. But that makes more sense. I think trying to blend the concept of ‘magic’ into the live action incarnation of X-men would have been a bit much. Plus, at the end of the day, Juggernaut basicaly serves as little more than a living, moving battering ram. He’s really not someone who needs some deep history and back story in a movie with so many characters like this.

    But yeah, the rest went way too far off from the source material. I am on the fence with the whole thing myself. I really hated some parts while enjoying others. My reaction to the movie as a whole is very conflicted. When and if they do a 4th movie, let’s hope they stick to formula a bit more.

  • http://myspace.com/yotaruvegeta Vichus Smith

    I think that you’re right. Juggernaut had to be introduced, and his actual origin would have taken up some of the movie. The mutant angle spares the audience of learning about his magical powers.

    I know that there are a lot of X-men fans who have been developing better storylines that could have been used for this film, and I have an idea as well. Little good it’ll do now.

    I think that they should have basically gone with the Dark Pheonix angle, put in the Hellfire club, have some good villians who could have gone against the X-men and at the end have the Pheonix go so wild that everyone, good or bad, has to stop her.

    I really didn’t like that the Dark Pheonix issue was crammed in with the cure vaccine all at once.

    Since movies only seem to last for a trilogy, they wanted to have some finality to the series. I think they could have made 4 films, and have a hint of the Apocalypse saga in the 3rd movie. Unfortunately, this is the end.

  • Chanel

    As someone who didn’t know the hitory of the X-Men except for the fact that my brothers were obessed with it, my comments are that I didn’t like the pacing of the movie. I didn’t like that there wasn’t enough information about why Jean was going wild, why Jean returned to her parent’s home–it seems to me that mutants were leaving the homes for a place of acceptance. To return home didn’t make sense to me. Jean killing Scott didn’t make sense to me. It happened way too fast as well.

    I went back and read the history of Jean and once I did that, I was really disappointed at how they handled her transformation. I think that people who watched the first two will not like the third one because it doesn’t tie into the first two well. It doesn’t give you the same feeling as the first two. I cried when Wolverine touched Rouge on the statue of liberty and I cried when Jean held off the water and the was lifting the plane in part two. I didn’t feel those emotions in this third one. I didn’t care about the X-men as characters as much in the third one. The only thing that moved me was what happened to magneto. I was very upset about that and I think I made noises when it happened. And I did have a moment of great elation for the very last scene (well, the one before the bonus scene and credits) that showed magneto playing chess with himself.

    When I saw what happened there, I clapped and probably jumped out of my seat.

    I think that the movie gives a false history to new x-men fans. It’s like there will be two x-men stories now and how can you intelligently discuss mutant facts when things change? I hate to say it, but I wish peter jackson did it. Then, it probably would have had everything 98% accurate to the history and it would have been LONG enough to incorporate it. I don’t think X-Men fans would mind one bit sitting through a long x-men movie.

  • http://myspace.com/yotaruvegeta Vichus Smith

    As I sat and thought about the real Dark Pheonix saga I think that it was probably way too long a story to tell just in an hour plus. Hell, it’s too long of a story to tell in 4 hours! So going with the Dark Pheonix angle would never satisfy anyone, because it is one of the most important moments in x-men history. I don’t know what story they should have told instead, but taking on the Pheonix was a big risk. If they did the Pheonix story as-is, they would have to include the Shi’ar Empire from space, the Hellfire club and the Pheonix Force, a power that bonds to jean and makes her the Pheonix to being with.

    As for why Jean went back to her home, I think that was a parallel they were going for more than anything. In the first scene, Jean is a child, Xavier and Magneto are friends and everything is ok. In the present, Jean is all grown up, Magneto and Xavier are at odds and the home is eventually destroyed. In literature, a home often represents its owner. I think that the destruction of the house represents the conflict within Jean’s mind.

  • http://myspace.com/yotaruvegeta Vichus Smith

    Also, please GO TO marvel.com’s MARVEL UNIVERSE section to see the drastic difference between the movie’s Pheonix and the actual Pheonix the comic fans know

  • T.H

    The bad parts overshadowed the good parts. this movie could only be liked if you never ever heard of the x-men before. I mean no cartoons no comic-books what so ever then it might be a bit entertaining. I think they were trying to make sure there was no hope for a fourth movie because this one was some hot garbage. The only reason to see it is to admire how terrrible it is and imagine what it could have been. Other than that it’s a complete waste of time unless your a seven year old with ADHD then who cares about a plot…they obviously didnt. They killed all the wrong people and gave too much time to dead-end storylines. It would have been a much better movie if they changed all the names and called it something else. I’d rather watch bread mold than ever see this movie again.

  • http://myspace.com/yotaruvegeta Vichus Smith

    I admire your comedy and exaggerations, but when I hear that the movie was “totally unenjoyable” then you’re going into fanboy territory.

    I have and still enjoy all x-related stuff and I just saw this movie as I saw the first two- separate from the comic book. If a movie is adapted from a novel, parts are cut out and changed to fit within a 2 hour film. If all the X-books were collected into one book, it couldn’t fit in any room in your house. So why expect such a huge history of stories to be satisfied within a 1 1/2 movie?

  • Ian Woolstencroft

    While it’s true that the film differs greatly from the comic storyline I don’t think fans should have any more of a problem with it than they’d have had with the previous two films. After all you can’t get a much bigger divergence from X Men lore than changing the original members of the group! And then there’s adding a foot to Wolverine’s height and doing away with his history with Sabertooth not to mention the liberties taken with his origin in the second film.

    I’ve been an X Men fan since the Claremont/Byrne days (the Dark Phoenix storyline is one of my favourite comic epics ever) but had no problem with the changes made. In fact, as you rightly say, I think they added greatly to the film. An ‘event’ that happens very early in the film leaves you with doubt and fear for all the characters in the film. You really have no idea who will live and who will die and surprisingly for a big budget Hollywood film you really do care, so much so that at one point there were tears in my eyes (call me a wimp if you like).

    I still think the second film is the best in the series but this runs it a close second.

  • http://myspace.com/yotaruvegeta Vichus Smith

    The whole “adding a foot to Wolverine’s height” thing is hilarious! I’ve barely recognized the height of any character in Marvel comics- ok, well, maybe Galactus.

    The hypocrisy of the fans was that the X-men movies were screwed up from the first film, and yet the third movie is where they had the biggest outcry, just because there really was no sunny, happy ending. These are probably the same people who write their own fanfictions.

  • Ian Woolstencroft

    Wolverine, apart from having always been drawn clearly as short (check out Uncanny X Men 138, the funeral of Jean Grey for a prime example), has often been referred to as a ‘runt’, something you wouldn’t call a 6ft 1in Australian. He even takes his name from a small animal. I’ve got no problem with Jackman in the role (in fact I think he’s awesome) but he clearly doesn’t fit the description of the comics character.

    If you’re unaware of a character’s size it suggests poor work on the part of the illustrator, but the artists on the X Men titles have rarely been poor. Yes where a character is of average height you’re not going to spot it, but when you’re talking large (Hulk, Thing, Thor, Colossus etc) or small (Wolverine, Puck) it should, and almost always does, stand out.

    And I’d question the idea that X Men fans want a ‘sunny happy ending’. If they did they wouldn’t be reading what has always been one of the darkest mainstream comics going. In fact if that’s what they wanted they wouldn’t be reading Marvel comics at all, they’d be reading DC instead.

  • http://myspace.com/yotaruvegeta Vichus Smith

    I think that a mysterious Canuck with an adamantium-laced skeleton and razor sharp claws is the description that must not be changed. If you don’t screw with his personality and his origin story, I think that most minor details, like height, can be fiddled with. I didn’t pay much attention to Wolverines height- because I don’t care. Wolverine’s height does not add or take from his character. Characters like Colossus, Juggernaut or Apocalypse have to be a certain height above everyone else because their power lies partly in their size.

    Wolverine isn’t some anamoly where he’s so short that it’s obvious. If you asked most readers of X-books, they couldn’t tell you how tall Wolvie is. Hell, I just read the latest ‘Astonishing,’ and I couldn’t get a clue of how tall Wolverine was because he was running around for most of his scenes. Wolverine’s height just doesn’t matter.

    I’d finally like to clear up what I meant by “sunny, happy ending.” What the fans want is for the meaningless to die, the major characters to be on top and for everything to be how they recall it from the comics. Although the writers for the third X-men have put sequels in a strange spot, and although they squeezed 3 stories into 1, it was refreshing to get a story that I haven’t read before and plot points that were unexpected.

  • Sean Iremonger

    I didnt like how the Dark Pheonix was just jeans alta ego when she is some more than that. they even turned away from her powers, I mean wheres the fire and the flaming bird that makes the Pheonix, the Pheonix!!
    They faild in making the pheonix visually spectacular and this important touch would have made the movie amazing and stunning to withness its a shame that they missed this vital aspect to the Phenoix character.

    how ever the one character that they really got spot on Beast they cast him well and he really excited me throughout the movie. i applaued that storm finally has a personality and that she became the Goddess she truely is though i think if they make spinn offs to the X-men then they need to make a Storm movie. and through the spin offs slowly introduce other characters that are important to the x-men team like gambit,morph etc and then they should create a ulitmate Marvel movie with capt America, ironman fantastic four the avengers the hulk the lot!

  • David

    Yeah, I didn’t like how they changed the story of the characters in these X-men movies. Rogue joins the x-men as a kid instead of as an adult without Ms. Marvel’s powers. Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Prof. X seemingly dies in the 3rd movie. Thankfully, the “cure” appears to be only temporary.

    I would have preferred they got the main host of X-men and then added characters as they progressed. Instead, they bring in the characters and then they mysteriously leave. I would have liked to see Gambit and Morph. I always thought Jean-Claude Van Damme would be a good Gambit.

    In a mutant/human-type world, I would think the mutants would be in packs/groups. But the writers of the movies sees them as a bunch of loners.

    I didn’t care for the fight scenes in the 3rd movie. It was like throwing a bunch of no-name “mutants” with no real powers at 6 x-men. I would have preferred to see the mutants use their powers in the fight scenes.