X-Men: The Last Stand

  • Film
  • Action and adventure
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Adaptable things, mutants. With only minor tweaking, this comic-book concept – people with superpowers resulting from genetic anomalies, rendering them both evolutionary pioneers and social pariahs – can be roughly applied to any number of real-world concerns, from racism to homophobia, the generation gap to the war on terror. The development of a weaponised ‘cure’ for mutants in this third outing expands the field to the US culture wars around the human body, evoking HIV, the right to choose and body fascism at its most literal. But while director Brett Ratner offers a serviceable approximation of his predecessor Bryan Singer’s steely style – with several arresting action set-pieces, including a grand-scale San Francisco Bay finale – a tighter focus might have enhanced the set-up’s latent allegorical powers, and its emotional resonance.

Following ‘X2’, Scott ‘Cyclops’ Summers (James Marsden) is inconsolable (ie unshaven) over the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who promptly reappears as Phoenix, a stolid yet near-omnipotent succubus with varicose veins. Battle for control of her powers sets the assimilationist X-Men of saintly headmastermind Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) against the disaffected troops of rabble-rousing Magneto (Ian McKellen). The overabundance of characters works against engagement: a couple of regulars are bumped off, but few of the numerous new faces put in more than token appearances (exceptions are Kelsey Grammer as an urbane blue sasquatch and, regrettably, Vinnie Jones as an armour-plated thug). Most intriguing by far is the testy rapport between Stewart and McKellen: visiting Jean’s childhood home in a flashback prologue they are youthful – or at least weirdly shiny-faced – colleagues; meeting there again decades on, they snipe at each other’s overfamiliar foibles like a couple of bickering old queens. How about a spin-off unpacking the halcyon days of this fine romance?

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Thursday May 25 2006
Duration: 99 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Patrick Stewart
Hugh Jackman
Halle Berry
Famke Janssen
Kelsey Grammer
Anna Paquin
Ian McKellen
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Shawn Ashmore
Aaron Stanford
James Marsden
Ellen Page
Ben Foster
Olivia Williams
Daniel Cudmore
Vinnie Jones
Dania Ramirez
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Cameron Bright
Michael Murphy
Bill Duke
Josef Sommer
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