ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  brett ratner

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  science fiction

LENGTH  -  104 minutes

RELEASED  -  26 may 2006

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox


ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $2,100,000
x-men: the last stand - a shot from the film


buy the soundtrack from x-men: the last stand at

buy the soundtrack from x-men: the last stand at

when a cure is found to treat mutations, lines are drawn amongst the x-men.

mike vogel, jed bernard, and nick stahl were all considered for the role of "Angel."


picture from x-men: the last stand

picture from x-men: the last stand

picture from x-men: the last stand

picture from x-men: the last stand

picture from x-men: the last stand

picture from x-men: the last stand

picture from x-men: the last stand

picture from x-men: the last stand


one out of four possible stars

With a different director behind the helm and a largely different crew, the third installment in the "X-Men" series is a different sort of beast that doesn't seem up to the task of equaling the first two films. After two-time director Bryan Singer departed the franchise to take over a long-in-development installment of the "Superman" franchise, 20th Century Fox was left with a different director and an entirely different sort of X-men world. No doubt there are countless devoted fans who will enjoy comparing this film and its "authenticity" to the original comic books, but what might stand out more to viewers is the difference in tone and presentation of this third film.

Everything from the colors to the set decoration to the cinematography marks this movie as an entirely different "vision" for the series, but this different visual approach has not served the franchise well. The characters have been given a grittier and dirtier appearance and more than once a few of the characters look as though they don't quite fit in their tightly wrapped leather costumes. But in the spirit of allowing filmmakers who are new to the franchise some latitude in creating something of their own design, independent from the first two movies, changes in look and feel pale in importance to the steep drop in story stability and character development.

That a film whose budget exceeds 200 million dollars will have a great amount of emphasis placed on its special effects should not be any sort of surprise, but when one considers that the heart and soul of the "X-Men" is quite absent from the narrative, viewers will probably be cursing the person whose decision it was to place director Brett Ratner in the driver's seat. The carefully laid relationships and character developments that successfully drove the first two films are muddied and tossed about by a plot attempting to support far too many characters.

Although there are glimpses and snapshots of the endearing and comedic relationships present between the returning mutants, there are the dual problems of a lack of further development regarding these relationships and the constant feeling that the film is just too crowded with nameless mutants who may or may not have a single line, yet seem to hold some sway over the plot. While some of these characters were probably dropped into the mix to create a few new "interesting" mutations for viewers, all of these generally worthless additions serve only to crowd from the stage the more important characters like Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Rogue (Anna Paquin).

However cool it might seem for mutants to thrust porcupine-like spines out from their skin or create invisible shockwaves that emanate from their outstretched hands, the time spent allowing these characters center stage severely compromises the ability of the audience to follow and care about what happens to any of the main characters. There is a significant body-count in this film, but the impression these deaths have on the emotions of the average viewer is lessened because there just isn't enough character development (or furtherance of already-present character relationships). And while it's generally considered a futile exercise to mention the words "character development" in an action film, the first two films had a significant measure of that and they were better for it.

Despite eye-popping special effects or larger-than-life disasters, the invisible pull of an action film is not simply the action. It's the people or characters who engage in those actions and what they do in life-threatening situations. You have to want to know what's going to happen to the characters or all the visual effects and computer trickery in the world can't make you want to see the film to its conclusion. X-Men: The Last Stand therefore is considerably fortunate in that it retains a small portion of the characters you want to see and spend two hours with. Of course, it bears mentioning that the special and visual effects in this film are not eye-popping or incredible, despite an impressive few minutes where the evil "Magneto" (Ian McKellen) spends rearranging the location of the San Francisco Bridge.

Generally it would be an injustice to label this film a waste of time despite the considerable difference in tone and presentation as it relates to the first two films in the series. But in the spirit of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," should the filmmakers have departed so severely from what seemed to work so well in the first two films? Lead actors Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Romijn (and at least a half-dozen other returning characters) all have a few moments to rein in the audience's interest and every once in a while they do.

But on the whole, there are so many massive plot holes dancing around the story, and the influx of new characters is so massive, that the film just can't keep up with the information required to entertain the audience. Both main and supporting characters drop in and out of the story so often that viewers will have some serious questions remaining after the closing credits roll. Questions like who is "Leech" and where did he come from? What exactly happened on the lake between Jean Grey and Cyclops? Why does it suddenly turn to night after Magneto starts playing spin the bottle with the San Francisco Bridge? Why does Dr. Rao seem to have a strong emotional connection to Warren Worthington II?

Furthermore, why would the character of "Angel" be on nearly every piece of promotional material for the film and yet only have three short scenes in the entire movie and even fewer lines? Judging from the amount of plot instability and the feeling that the film is a general free-for-all as far as character development and story are concerned, it might bode filmmakers well to bring Bryan Singer back into the franchise for Wolverine and Co.'s next outing. X-Men: The Last Stand is in no way a proper finale for this series and the characters and their fans certainly deserve a more smartly created cinematic vision the next time around.

Hint: Stay for the closing credits.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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