X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

x-men the last stand

“There is only one question you must answer: Who will you stand with?”

The Scoop: 2006 PG-13, Directed by Brett Ratner and starring Hugh Jackman, Kelsey Grammer, and Famke Jenssen

Tagline: Take a Stand

Summary Capsule: All your favorite X-Men and villains are back to deal with a new cure for the mutant condition and Jean Grey’s return as a being of seemingly limitless power

Kyle’s rating: As a Sci-Fi Channel Original, this is great! As a theatrical release: not so much.

Kyle’s review: Back when I was just a comic book enthusiast, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable completely clowning X3. As a full-fledged comic book store employee, I’m much more willing now to allow my inner elitism and arrogance rooted in decades of reading X-Men comics to attack all that offends me. I’ll admit that all the squirming in my seat was a result of three gallons of free iced tea (thanks, K’tandrea!) straining my bladder, but my dead-eyed head shakes were exclusively reserved for the incoherent plotting that dooms X3 to The Punisher levels of mediocrity. And we’re talkin’ the Dolph Lundgren version here, people. Believe it.

That said, in the post-film breakdown conversation out in the front of the theater while half of us smoked and the rest of us watched the exiting crowds to potentially jump the fools who refused to let us into line with them (long story), I was pretty much the lone voice that said the film would have some mass-market appeal. I argued that with the quick editing and the conscious decision on the film’s part not to allow any single character or plot development to linger long enough to be memorable in any way, the film skews closely towards “forgettable cinematic summer popcorn.” Others claimed that the nonsensical story and absolutely baffling twists would confuse and anger the average theatergoer. I countered with “No, no, they’ll love it. They watch ‘Lost’ for intellectual reasons. All they want from X-Men movies is Wolverine fighting people and cool uses of mutant powers. And maybe a big thing of popcorn. Mmm, movie popcorn!”

If you think too hard about X3, bad things happen. Here are just a few of my lingering questions (spoilers!); skip to the next paragraph if you can’t handle it. Where was Magneto’s army located that Wolverine went to it, went back to the mansion, and then had to fly out to San Francisco to catch up? How did Angel catch up if he simply flies like a normal bird? Why are only three students being groomed to ascend to full X-Men status? Where were all of the other students at the mansion at any point in the film? Where did the prior morality concerning the cure go for X-characters like Beast and Storm? Why did Magneto seem to regret a certain action at the end? Why was I excited to see this in the first place? (end spoilers!)

Kelsey Grammar’s Beast would, under any other circumstances, been the fresh surprise that “stole the show;” at least, as much as any show can be stolen from the likes of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Instead, transcending a largely thankless role by sheer virtue of charisma and quiet intensity, Ellen Page essayed a Kitty Pryde that lived up to the insane esteem most fanboys hold for the character. The rest of the cast played as usual: despite slightly neutered by having to fill a rebellious and romantic heroic slots, Hugh Jackman was Dah Man as Wolverine, despite having more screen time (as apparently requested by thousands of people whose existence has yet to be satisfactorily proven) Halle Berry was The Weakest Link as Storm. And so on and so on.

More so than my midnight compatriots, I can actually see this being a person’s favorite of the trilogy. My friend Jason observed of the people exiting from other theaters (our showing got out early because our previews got cut off; we missed out on Snakes on a Plane and Ghost Rider(!) among others) that “They’re all sad inside but they don’t know why!” He was unsure why no one seemed too torn up that X3 was at best a collection of sketches of superior comic book stories (The Saga of the Dark Phoenix being an undeniable classic of the genre); he was unable or unwilling to concede that as simple entertainment all the action and weak characterizations could be just the style for someone who likes the concept of the X-Men but never has and never will read a comic book in their life. X3 is quick, fast, and depends upon the likeability of its actor to imply character depth — just like high school and most other social events! If you’re attractive and/or have mutant powers (preferably both) you will be “interesting” and “cool!” Personality and motivation need not apply.

X3 is going to make a boatload of money, so I don’t think we need to worry about this truly being a “last stand” of any kind. Now, almost certainly we’ll never see this particular group of actors together in another sequel. I’d think Jackman (soon to be part of a Wolverine solo adventure, apparently) is the most necessary to hold onto; let Berry go for sure, along with anyone else who is tired or fed up with the franchise. If Page and the rest of the X-Kids will come back, then I’d say you’ve got your new X-trilogy safe and sound. Go for it!

Oh, but seriously: turn your brain off at the door, and if you have any kind of memory regarding the X-comics canon, be sure to leave that at home (otherwise you’ll just get upset). Combining multiple “classic” X-Men stories in one sped-up film was a bad idea; hiring Brett Ratner as the director to make it happen just made things worse. It’s a passable film that coasts on the charm and depth of the first two films, but I wouldn’t want to know anyone who really enjoyed it. As soon as it becomes apparent that more than half the scene settings were chosen only to reference scenes from the earlier films, you’ll have seen plenty of cracks in the surface to reveal the lazy film underneath. Give me Grant Morrison’s New X-Men any day, and I’ll use intense blinking to make it seem like a movie. I doubt that would work, actually. But it’s a better use of time than seeing X3.

Lissa’s review: X-Men: The Last Stand was, without a doubt, the second best movie I’ve seen in the theaters this year. Are you encouraged by that bold statement? Well, take it with a grain of salt, because the last movie I saw in theaters was Brokeback Mountain. (And incidentally, I love it that Mutant Reviewers is the only movie review site I know that I could totally get away with a statement like that.) So second best isn’t really a surprise, since I did really like Brokeback Mountain, and hey, they should be glad they made it that high on somebody’s list.

I liked X-3 or whatever we’re calling it. Really, I did. But I wonder how much of it was getting to actually see a movie, and enjoying the experience, and how much of it was the movie itself. And just the fact I even say that leads me to believe that X-3 was an objectively mediocre movie.

A little history. I’ve never read the X-Men books, or watched the cartoon, or whatever else is an option. Duckie dragged me to see the first one back in grad school, and then I was hooked on the movie universe. I’m vaguely aware of the other media forms and know little tidbits because I’ve asked, but this is one where I don’t remotely care about the book-movie fidelity because I’ve never read the books. Like my double standards?

That said, in many ways I enjoyed X-3, because I wasn’t hampered by how much better the Dark Phoenix saga was on paper. (Although I’ve read Drew’s summation and it does sound like it was a lot better.) But on the other hand, I suspect it won’t hold up to the multiple viewings that I’ll subject it to anyway, because it is kind of flat.

Like the first X-Men and X-2, I felt the movie was just not long enough. However, with the first two, I felt like “too many Mutants, not nearly enough time!” SO many interesting characters and plotlines… so much potential. And since there were sequels, I didn’t mind how much was left undone. However, X-3 suffered from something different. It took me a while to put my finger on it, but I’ve got it. X-3 completely underestimates its audience.

The plot, as Kyle described, focuses on the ethics of a Mutant Cure. Great idea, and I found it very interesting, and I could see why the Dark Phoenix thing was incorporated into this. But here’s the thing: this was not a Wolverine movie. It was not a Storm movie. It was a Magneto movie. A Charles movie. A Rogue movie. A Cyclops movie. A Beast movie. Other Mutants. But because Wolverine is marketable, those who think they know best put him center stage.

Now, I’m not saying Wolverine shouldn’t have been in the movie (or Storm). I like Wolverine, and I definitely appreciated Hugh Jackman’s romance-novel cover shirtless scenes. But it seems akin to having George Lucas direct Brokeback Mountain: putting someone very blunt and with a great love for the obvious flat in the middle of something that could really use more subtlety. (On the other hand, could you imagine Brokeback Mountain as directed by George Lucas? That’s something where I’d say brownies to the American who writes the best version of that. And I only say American because Pooly and I discovered that border guards seem to like looking at my brownies for long, long periods of time, even when the box IS marked perishable. Wow. That was quite an aside.) But anyway, my point is that the people in charge decided that we the movie-going public wouldn’t buy a ticket if Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry weren’t constantly on screen, so parts that should have been filled in by more subtle and relevant characters were dedicated to watching these two fight.

Although I did enjoy seeing Storm get her butt kicked.

I have to admit, what I really wanted was much more of Charles and Eric. Honestly, I could have watched an entire movie about the two of them alone. The relationship between the two of them is so complicated and so interesting, and the question of a cure thrusts all their differences right into the center… the movie did address all that, but not to the degree I would have liked. Less time trying to figure out if that one Evil Mutant was a guy or girl, more time on the dual competition/alliance, please.

There were other things I didn’t like, as well. The Dark Phoenix was boring. Seriously. Once Jean became the Phoenix, she just sort of stood there in her gothy-nurse dress and brooded. And did anyone ever ASK her if she wanted the cure? Also, it drove me nuts that they never really told us the names of the pierced Mutants. (Although the spot where Magneto showed them his tattoo from the death camps and then said he’d never let another needle near his skin? That was pretty brilliant.) And the Kitti-Bobby-Rogue triangle was pretty boring. And I really thought for a moment they were going to do the “love conquers all” thing.

That’s not to say that there was nothing good about X-3. It pulls its punches, yes, and it falls down, but there were some things I really enjoyed. I loved The Beast, and could have used much more time with him. I adored the meeting of Iceman and Pyro again, and wish we’d gotten to see a little bit more of that. And there was a lot of Charles and Eric — just not nearly as much as I would have liked. It might not have been as great as the first two, but I didn’t think it was a steaming pile of putrescence like The Doom Generation or Naked.

So all in all, not a bad popcorn flick at all. I just wanted so much more.

Nancy’s rating: Taking a stand for the middle ground.

Nancy’s review: So I’ve figured out how I’m going to do ratings from this point on. I’ll pretend my entire review is a movie hitting theaters this fall. And then I think of an appropriate tagline. How’s that work? Gimme some feedback, kids.

When you have your little bright-eyes fixated on a movie, and you’re cheering and screaming with gleams of utter happiness, it stings a little (just a little) when the first two mutants who review it knock it down and kick it in it’s face, and then mention it’s ‘Good points’ once or twice, but really, that’s almost sarcastic.

Kay guys, I know your reviews weren’t that mean-spirited, but I’m here to say damn! This movie was fantastic.

I’m a different breed. I am not a die-hard comic fan, nor am I only familiar with the movies. I’m the middle ground, right in between Lissa and Kyle. And apparently, the middle ground loves this movie best. I grew up on the cartoon. I know the story lines. A lot of my friends are fans of the comic so I’m informed in that area as well. I’m not familiar to pick out all the little plot faults and have too many issues with it. All I can really say is when I was a kid, The Beast was my favorite, and it was fantastic to have him back.

My cousin works at a comic book store and I asked him if he liked this movie. He said No. I asked Why? He said he was so absolutely sick of everyone in the comic store telling him all it’s faults, he just defaults to ‘no’ now when the subject of X-Men comes up. That’s how scarred he is by comic book fanatics. Hence, the thesis of my entire review.

Look, I have serious problems with this movie as well. But I have serious problems with almost every movie out there. Even my favorites. I think the idea of an X-Men movie forces you to look at it very carefully and see where the comic book and the movie don’t match up. I think the idea that this tries to follow specific plot lines opens it up for even more scrutinizing. No one did this with Batman. No one did this with Spiderman. I, in fact, am a little offended. I think X-Men is currently being watched by a lot of passionate fans with their arms crossed and eyes narrowed, waiting for an error to surface. When it does, they stand up and scream “Ha! I knew the movie would be flawed! Screw you, X-Men 3!” and then they fly away into the night.

This is how X-Men 3 was watched by my friends and I. On opening night, we all wore baggy pants and giant purses (except for the boy) and loaded ourselves with fun and interesting snacks from Target to sneak in. Then, we got there early and got increasingly psyched. I couldn’t find my Cyclops glasses, but I suppose that’s okay considering the current plotline of the film (something I have a problem with, but hey, let’s move on). We cheered. We all brought 7-11 X-Men Slurpee cups. We woo-d. I screamed a little when the previews started. I was just so happy.

Comics books are a lot of fun. X-Men, I think, is probably the one that makes you raise your fists in the air and scream “YEAH” the most. This one is not just dealing with saving innocent people. They aren’t just superheroes; they are also an oppressed minority. And there is confliction within the group. It’s like watching Spider-Man, Roots and a movie about a bickering couple all rolled into one. But, it gets you so hyped out, it gets you so passionate. That’s the key about X-Men. And it toys with you! I don’t know about you guys, but I love Magneto, and in a way, I totally wanted him to conquer all. But I knew that his way was the wrong way. Sort of. But in another light, I can see his point. Professor X can be sort of a passive-aggressive controlling jerk, but I love that he cares. And I know he is working for the greater good. Each character has things that I love and hate about them. Excluding Storm. Obviously. No one likes Storm.

But I’m not gonna worry about it, because the film was grand. That’s the word that comes to mind, grand. Grand special effects with a really grand storyline about the human race, evolution and oppressing minorities. It had characters that you could very easily love and characters you could very easily hate. I can’t tell you how many times I raised my fist and how many times I hit the stranger sitting next to me to make sure he was paying attention. That guy laughed a lot when I cheered a lot. We had a good time.

That’s what this is, a good time! I’m not bitter about anything. I understand the Pheonix storyline was sort of lame, and I hated Kitti’s addition in whole. But I’m not going to complain anymore. This was something I loved in childhood being brought to the big screen. This was something that I extracted sheer joy from; that was my X-Men passion. This is all about joy, guys! I think if you see it with a happy heart and a genuine love with X-Men, unbiased and bright-eyed, I think you will enjoy it. Maybe not as much as I, but you will enjoy it.

Justin’s rating: True believer no longer

Justin’s review: Massive hype and an internet frenzy. A complete, cover-all-bases marketing operation. Geeks excited beyond all hope at the prospect of another sequel. A smashing hit at the box office. Millions of dollars roll in. Another film in the series is virtually guaranteed.

Tell me, if this is the public’s definition of a “hit,” then why does X-Men: The Last Stand feel like a definite “loss?”

The truth is in the pudding, my friends, a pudding that will be re-opened many years from now, on some dusty video store shelf or in the archives of a home computer, and that’s where the real verdict is made. The enormous piles of cash that it made will no longer be of any interest, nor the cultural expectations that were all but unavoidable for anyone who lived in the civilized world. All that will matter, to that future pudding, is whether X3 was a good film, a stinker or a disappointment. I’m guessing, somewhere between the last two.

Loyalty To The Franchise is the new geek motto. We are so forgiving, so forgetful and so willing to plunk down more bucks for rotten pieces of cinematic turds, as long as said turd is somehow connected to a better film or our beloved franchise. So, we’ll go see Matrix Revolutions, and some day have to answer to our kids for it. We’ll hide the ticket stubs from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and outright deny that we even got close to a movie theater the day The Fantastic Four came to town. And, of course, we’ll swallow X-Men 3 down with the extreme difficulty of a youngster masticating a brussels sprout, and in so doing try in vain to convince ourselves of the worthiness of it. Because it belongs to the Franchise, you see.

I try to calls them like I sees them: X-Men 3 should’ve been shot and disposed of on the editing room floor. It had no business belonging to the same series that brought us a fun, vibrant, exciting and surprisingly thoughtful X-Men and X-Men 2. Brett Ratner had all of the pieces that he needed: a superb cast, a generous special FX budget and a pre-installed fan base. He then jumbled them together like someone who’s so frustrated with a puzzle that they resort to re-cutting pieces and using glue to put things where they ought not to be.

Granted, the franchise might’ve hobbled him from the get-go. Enormous star egos (Halle Barry, get OVER yourself; you’re not that good of an actress to demand all sorts of spotlight) trying to share the same stage, an expanding plot that suddenly needed to be tidied up just in case it ended with a trilogy, and far too many characters to juggle without an expert hand.

Yet, there’s really no excuse for the clunker that now sits in the third spot (and, coincidentally, third place) of the series. You can see Ratner rubbing his ratty little hands together and thinking that, in order to live up to Bryan Singer’s skilled work, he needed to shake up the House of Mutant and make his own mark. If you have any knowledge of other movie franchises that suddenly found themselves under a new hand that felt inadequate compared to his bigger brother, then you’ll know what to expect. Sweeping character changes. Callous deaths. Far more action and far less story, character and genuine moments.

X-Men 3 shakes and shimmies between trying to stun you with “shocking” plot developments and trying to wow you with those fancy-pantsy special effects. Oh, the computer. How you’ve spoiled our movies. What it never does is make us care for anyone who’s on screen, other than caring that Halle Barry tries to muscle other actors out of every darn scene she’s in (“Forget about him! Lookit me! I have white eyes!”).

For example, the characters of Angel (Ben Foster) and Beast (Kelsey Grammer) are both well-known in the X-Men universe, and prompted millions of fans to drool in anticipation for their showing here. Both characters are given, tops, two minutes of any real screen time, and in the case of Angel, it’s almost laughable in that he’s used mostly just to show someone flying. Because… you know… flying’s cool.

With characters being casually shoved aside for little or no real emotional impact, the remaining few are forbidden from showing any real warmth or humor to make this lovable. It’s a stinking crime when Wolverine just marks the time until the film ends and he collects his paycheck, without endearing himself to us with more trademark Bad Boy attitude.

The plot? Do you care? Magneto’s face droops another couple inches, Jean Grey resurrects (erm, spoiler) as a nasty girl who isn’t interesting in the least, Professor X turns out to be a bit of a tool, scientists develop a “cure” for the mutant gene, and a sort-of war begins. Although interesting from the perspective of someone who wants to know how the story ends, it’s actually quite dull and pedestrian compared to what we’ve seen previously in other X-Men and superhero flicks.

Future pudding says: “I’m expired and don’t eat me.”

Do NOT stand next to this guy on the subway.


  • Scattered throughout this film are little hints that someone involved in creating and writing this film did actually read a great deal of X-Men comics out there. Recent, relevant ones, even! The one that stood out most prominently to me was a scene of shattered glass in an unique pattern in the orbit of Jean Grey as she Phoenix-es out: it look remarkably like a scene in Morrison’s New X-Men where Jean uses her telekinesis to stop about a thousand razor projectiles and holds them in a beautiful flower pattern in front of her. But there are other hints. Jean’s taunting of Wolverine about Charles Xavier messing with his mind to make him conform to the team follows a thread in Ultimate X-Men, as does the idea of Xavier being a manipulative b*st*rd.
  • There are a ton of mutants that fill the background presumably put there to make hardcore fans happy. Some are easy to spot; I guess if you know the cartoon you’ll know Spike and if you know the comics you’ll know Callisto and Multiple Man. Others are not; I had no idea that one character who seems to morph out of a wall was supposed to be Psylocke until I read an interview with the actress in a film magazine. Have fun locating your favorites, but don’t bother looking for Gambit because he was discarded due to his energy power being too similar to other characters’ mutant abilities.
  • The bowling pin noise when Juggernaut goes through the soldiers [thanks StarOpal]
  • [spoiler] Why kill Jean when they had cure needles ostensibly everywhere? Sure she had mental issues, but if they cured her of her powers then she’d at least be harmless. [thanks Macaroni & Death]
  • Logan’s metal bones showing as Jean blasts him. EW.
  • Josh Holloway was offered the role of Gambit, but turned it down because the character was too similar to his character on “Lost”. As a result, the character was never added to the film since this would have been a special cameo put in later had Josh decided to sign on. Summer Glau auditioned for the role of Kitty Pryde. She looked to Joss Whedon, who gave her a part in “Firefly” and Serenity, for advice because he had written for the “Astonishing X-Men” comic book for Marvel, featuring the storyline about the mutant cure.
  • The Danger Room scene was a mock up of the non-continuity story “Days of Future Past”, where mutant-hunting Sentinels tracked mutants in a war-torn world.?
  • In the comic, Beast’s blue fur and animal-like features were product of a serum he had tested on himself. Beast’s real power is his enlarged hands and feet that grant him strength and agility. Juggernaut was given his powers through mysticism. Jean’s phoenix power was a cosmic entity that bonded itself with Jean. For the movie, these powers have become part of their normal mutation.
  • Instead of high-dollar CGI to create Colossus’ transformation, a reflective form-fitting bodysuit was created for and worn by Daniel Cudmore.
  • Bryan Singer was supposed to direct and co-write the film’s script, but when he was given the offer to take over the problematic Superman Returns from Brett Ratner, he left the project, taking with him most of the production staff, including composer and editor John Ottman, cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, writers Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris, and production designer Guy Dyas. (Singer has maintained in interviews that he would have loved to have gladly done this movie after completing the “Superman” project, but 20th Century Fox chose to continue without him.) Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn then stepped into the director’s chair, overseeing the script and production, only to leave nine weeks before filming, unable to commit to the year-long production schedule which would keep him away from his family in England. In an odd twist of fate, Brett Ratner filled the vacated position. Coincidentally, Ratner was also a contender to direct X-Men before Singer got the job.

Groovy Quotes

Dr. Hank McCoy: A major pharmaceutical company has developed a way to suppress the mutant X-Gene, permanently. They’re calling it a cure.

Prof. Charles Xavier: Something woke her. But she has to be controlled.
Logan: You know, sometimes when you cage the beast, the beast gets angry.

Prof. X: (to Storm) You of all people know how fast the weather can change.

Bobby Drake: You seem like you’re avoiding me, I mean something’s wrong.
Rogue: I can’t touch my boyfriend without killing him.
Bobby Drake: Have I ever put any pressure on you?
Rogue: You’re a guy, Bobby. Your mind’s only on one thing.

The Interrogator: Raven?
Mystique: I don’t answer to my slave name.

If you liked this movie, try these:


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