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X-Men: The Last Stand

By Violet LeVoit | Posted 5/24/2006

Geeks in the know lick their chops, secure in the knowledge the first two X-Men movies were just prologue for the Dark Phoenix Saga, the meatiest story line in the comic book’s history. But X-Men: The Last Stand is pure meat loaf. Sure, the gang’s all here—Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Storm (Halle Berry), Rogue (Anna Paquin), and, of course, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, giving himself a migraine furrowing his brow), plus a few newcomers, including Beast (a perfectly cast Kelsey Grammer, wisely taking his only chance to be an action hero). But director Brett Ratner, unlike his predecessor Bryan Singer, doesn’t know how to stage scenes so that his human actors scintillate superhuman grandeur. When a motley group of subterranean mutants in leather and spikes march across the Golden Gate Bridge, it looks instead like the BART broke down on the way to some Leather Ball. The X-Men have always only been as good as their writers, and the marginally entertaining screenplay doesn’t understand these already well-established characters, putting the audience in the extraterrestrial position of wishing there was more complexity to Wolverine. The actors go gamely at their school-play dialogue, all looking a bit foolish, except for the sublime Ian McKellen (who could invest an Instant Messenger transcript with Shakespearean gravity) and the underutilized Cameron Bright, as Leech, who zings his few scenes straight for the bull’s-eye. The high-body-count conclusion is so apocalyptic it’s as if someone is singeing the last crumbs out of the franchise before putting it away for good.

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