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Movie Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

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Dear Brett Ratner,

I owe you an apology. In the many months preceding the release of X-Men: The Last Stand, I've said some very negative things about your film. At that point, you must understand, I hadn't seen it, but rather made an assumption based on your past work. I'm writing you this letter in the hope that you'll forgive me, and to tell you that I was wrong — you've done a damn fine job.

x_men_three_ver1.jpgAs I write this, I've not yet had the chance to re-watch that Singer fellow's work. I've seen his films, but time can do funny things to your recollection of quality. At some point, perhaps when the inevitable boxed set is released, I'll recap and decide which film is truly the best. At this point in time, however, I'm going to have to say that you've done the best job; X-Men: The Last Stand is the best film in the trilogy.

I realise, of course, that it's not entirely your work. You've got an excellent script, which moves at an impressive pace and seems to waste no time on anything that isn't essential to the story. Of particular note is the lack of any heavy-handed recap on the events of the previous film, or insulting explanation of the powers of each character. And rightly so – by this point, surely everyone knows why Magneto can throw Wolverine around – right?

Then there are the actors. And what a wonderful cast you had, Brett! May I call you Brett? Perhaps it's best if I stick to Mr Ratner? First and foremost you've got Ian McKellen – a man I suspect is a mutant himself, gifted with a special ability that allows him to turn any piece of written text into a Shakespearean monologue. The man is incredible! It's almost fair to say that McKellen is the lynchpin of your film, but that would be doing a disservice to the work of the three other impressive stars: Famke Janssen, Hugh Jackman, and Patrick Stewart.

Stewart is and always will be Professor X. Forget that Picard bloke, his shiny headed magnificence was born to play Xavier. It is his destiny. There's really little else to say.

Janssen and Jackman are both especially important, and haven't let you down, Bre… sorry, Mr Ratner. Jackman, for me, has become so synonymous with Wolverine that I doubt I'll ever really be able to accept him in any other role. Not that I really care; I was so worried that Wolverine would be impossible to film that I'm very pleased with Jackman's achievement. He hasn't just managed to portray the Wolverine side of the character brilliantly, but also Logan. And the hair – what a wonderful job the stylists have done here!

And so to Janssen, carrying the weight of a million fanboy's expectations, and portraying a character of such awesome power that surely it would be impossible to pull it off? And yet she does more than that; Janssen manages to authoritatively embody every last, essential piece of the character.

But I can't praise every one of your actors; Halle Berry should never have been allowed to hold her character to ransom the way she has. I can understand the position this puts you in: Do you find a new Storm for the third film, destroying an important element of continuity, or do you pander to Berry's demands? We will not negotiate with Oscar winning actresses! Oh, but you did. Or was that the studio? Best blame them…

But really, are you pleased with her performance? Don't you just think that's she's playing, well, Halle Berry? I just never imagined Storm to be quite as stroppy.

And while we're talking about poor performances, was it your decision to cast Vinnie Jones? What were you thinking? Every line he's required to speak sounds so incredibly wrong. And he looks rubbish, to be honest (and we are being honest here, Mr Ratner). I know what Vinnie Jones looks like, and unless he's been adhering to a serious weight gain plan most of his Juggernaut outfit is a rubber suit. Next time – and I'll not cover all the "to-ing" and "fro-ing" about a potential sequel, but if you do get any news you know where to come, right? – just let the rubber suit play Juggernaut. It will do a better job.

And if you tell Vinnie about this letter, skip over that last part – okay? And tell him I love him. Actually, next time you see Vinnie, give him a big kiss from me.

But I can't hold either Halle or Vinnie against the film. The major element, the essential factor, and the reason this film is so much better than the previous two, is the incredible imagery, and the tangible sense of pathos and emotional resonance. From the use of the Angel character, through to the incredible mid-section set piece at the Grey residence, all the way to the magnificent climax, your film contains some fantastic imagery, and is easily the most moving comic book adaptation I've ever seen.

That's not say that I'm in awe of every element. The inclusion of mutant "classes" in the script is all a bit too midi-chlorian for my tastes. The rest of the script is so efficient, and yet manages to treat the characters fairly, that the inclusion of any easily definable mutant class system strikes me as lazy. I realise this is present in the comics, but throwing simple numbers around when discussing a character who's clearly as powerful as Phoenix belittles her a bit, don't you think?

I'm running out of time though Brett, so I need to wrap this up. They'll be coming to take the pencils away soon, and you don't want to know what they'll do if they find me writing to you. They've never let me have those letters I wrote to Joss Whedon back – maybe one day I'll be able to tell him how I feel. In fact, next time you see Joss, give him…um…never mind.

You've done a great job here. So much so that I'm willing to forgive you for Red Dragon. Just don't do it again, okay? You were right about Kelsey Grammer – even if it did take me at least thirty minutes to stop waiting for Niles to turn up. You threw the Days Of Future Past homage in to keep us fanboys happy. And you even gave us Rebecca Romijn naked. Yes, I know she got naked for Singer too, but he's not into that.

So, Brett Ratner, I salute you. You've made my favourite film so far this year, and what's even better is I wasn't expecting it. I'm sorry I said all those bad things about you. I promise, in future, to give you the benefit of the doubt. But seriously, you need to talk to Chris Tucker about that salary.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Woolstencroft

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