X-Men: The Last Stand
Directed by Brett Ratner

Written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn

Starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan


X-Men: The Last Stand

When it came to comic books, I was always stuck at what you might call the one-level: Superman, Captain Marvel, Batman, Submariner, Green Hornet. They, some of them, had acolytes (Robin, Kato, etc.), but they did their own good work and were proud. And then along came groups, where each member was assigned a job that required his or her own special ability; they worked together to save the world. So, even better.

But now it's gotten out of hand, and I'm specifically referring to the X-Men (and women, people - why just Men? And yes, I know it's the title of the comic book ). "The Last Stand" is the third, and I hope the last, of the X-Men films, because unless somebody with talent can come up with a good script for a change, this series will soon be incomprehensible. Trying to squeeze twelve mutants, each with his or her own special talents, into a 104-minute film, and add a plot, and some relationships, and even a witting suspension of disbelief on our part, is a lot more than this film can sustain. It's certainly more than director Brett Ratner can sustain, and I feel sorry for him.

"X-Men: The Last Stand" is choked with so much plot there's hardly room for the mutants to do their thing. A "cure" for the mutant gene has been found, and though some mutants want to be rid of their burdens, others do not. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) stands for a live-and-let-live policy, his rival Magneto (Ian McKellan) wants to kill the bastard who - well, give me a minute here. A bad billionaire has a mutant son, Angel (Ben Foster) with sixteen-foot-wide angel wings, and yes, you can make your own parallels with "Angels in America" as he soars over San Francisco. In a flashback poor Angel as a boy is shown trying to cut them off, which is one of the most gruesome shots in film history. Anyway, dad buys Alcatraz (from whom?) and starts manufacturing the serum cure there, taking as hostage the young boy who was Nicole Kidman's son, you remember, in "Birth," So we have a metaphor here for gays in America, with that threat of a possible 'cure' for gayness; and also one for the deaf community and the conflict within the community over putting cochlear implants into deaf children. But two metaphors is more than any film should have to sustain, and this one certainly doesn't.

I realize I haven't even mentioned Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) or Halle Berry (Storm) yet, and there's a reason: they're barely in the film, though it's apparent once again that Jackman's hairdresser has been influenced by the look of Dilbert's boss, with his double-sideways pompadours - and since when do real wolverines look anything like Dilbert's boss? Berry whiips up a storm or two, but that's it for her. The only memorable characters in "X-Men: The Last Stand" are, of course, Stewart and McKellan, two veterans who could probably make the instructions on your gas grill sound like Shakespeare. But they too are just one-note figures here, and let me spoil it for you by revealing that Mr. Stewart is vaporized in the film - too soon, too soon.

The climax of "X-Men: The Last Stand" is a wholly unbelievable process sequence in which Magneto uses his, well, magnetic powers to lift the central span of the Golden Gate bridge out of its place, throwing thousands of commuters to their deaths, in order to attach the Sausalito end to Alcatraz, so that his minions can walk across the bridge and attack the bad billionaire, destroy the anti-mutant drug and rescue the boy. Well, it's an ending, but hey, guys, next time get a script.