By Roger Moore
The Orlando Sentinel
Here’s a faint-praise review of
X-Men: The Last Stand.'' It's not nearly as bad as we'd feared. Signing hack Brett Rush Hour’’ Ratner to direct has had fans rending their T-shirts and flaming the Internet chat boards. The blasphemy!
But he didn’t kill the second-best comic-book movie franchise going (after Spider-Man, silly) so much as wrap it up. The Men (and Women) exit with a little snap, a lot of explosions, a teensy bit of wit and a little heart. And any doubt the series has run its course is removed in a thrice.
The Last Stand'' begins with the news that there's a cure’’ for mutancy. This gives some of the X-folk pause. Rogue (Anna Paquin), for instance. She’s always had
issues'' with her super-powers. What’s wrong? I can’t touch my boyfriend without killing him. Other than that …’’
Then, there’s Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the star and heart of these movies. He’s grown a little more civil, a little more social, since his electric introduction, hitchhiking in the snow, in the original
X-Men.'' Logan, we work as a team,’’ Storm (Halle Berry) reminds him.
``Yeah? Good luck with that.’’
The cure has Holocaust survivor and super-villain Magneto (Ian McKellen) up in arms. He’ll raise an army to fight the insipid, bigoted
Homo-sapiens,'' a word he can't say without spitting. This cure’’ thing comes up as mutants seem to be doing better at gaining acceptance. Yes, but can they get married in Vermont?
There’s peace between humans and mutants. They have a cabinet
Secretary for Mutant Affairs,'' played by Kelsey Grammer, in Ty-D-Bol blue, with Bigfoot's fur and a Brooks Brothers suit. The gay-Holocaust-tolerance metaphors take a back seat to the action, which is more violent than the previous X
es. Big set piece battles abound as the military sets out to cure the mutants by force. Vinnie Jones dons a muscle-suit and silly headpiece as Juggernaut,’’ an irresistible force for the bad guys.
The two love triangles (one involves Wolverine, one involves Rogue) are given short shrift. Characters die, come back to life or are
cured'' out of the movie. The most interesting make-up job of all is in a flashback that gives us Professor Xavier and Magneto as they appeared 20 years ago, when they were on the same team. Darned convincing. And Magneto wasn't wearing that absurdly long, draped-over-one-arm cape back then. Ratner is, on his best day, a crude director, given to doing stupidly obvious things like casting that creepy little boy from Birth’’ (Cameron Bright) as the creepy boy whose tissue might be the source of
the cure,'' using the voice of over-used movie drill sergeant R. Lee Ermey barking at soldiers (we never see his face), staging a simulation battle (shades of Star Trek’s’’ holodeck) to look like
The Terminator.'' But the child who hides in the bathroom, bloodily trying to cut off the wings that are sprouting out of his back so that he can fit in, is a heartbreaking moment. The finale has comic bite. And casting Frasier to play a mutant is just wacky. Oh my stars and garters!’’
Yeah, Frasier would have said that. So does Grammer’s Hank
Beast'' McCoy. The Last Stand’’ moves, it amuses a while, and it ends. Yes, Bryan Singer, director of the first two, led us to expect more. But he’s moved on, to
Superman'' and Logan’s Run.’’ Maybe it’s time we did, too.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
3 stars (out of 5)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn.
Director: Brett Ratner.
Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes.
Industry rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, sexual content and language.