Tuesday, May 20, 2014

X-Men: The Last Stand Review

It seems too easy to blame director Brett Ratner for this shockingly poor final film of the original X-Men trilogy because the simple math adds up. Bryan Singer gives us his vision for these characters with two smart, fun and well made films, only to step away from the opportunity to complete the saga and place it in the hands of Ratner, and the result is a complete and utter mess. Everything that made the first two films successful is stripped away here, a film that one would expect would step it up yet another notch above the excellent X2 and give us the conclusion fans deserve, an epic finality to the story of this team of superhero mutants.

My first concern with The Last Stand came when I saw the running time listed as 104 minutes. This in itself is not a guaranteed indication of the quality of a film, as plenty of films have been surprisingly short yet demonstrated beautiful, perfect pacing and eloquent storytelling, but for the final film of a superhero trilogy to be a half hour shorter than its predecessor? Something didn't smell right with this for me, an early indication that a dissatisfying conclusion was headed our way.

What makes this especially shocking is that my early judgement of the shorter running time revolved around the concept that this film would be a surprisingly small in scope assault of action until the credits rolled, but in reality one of the biggest flaws of Ratner's film is that he attempts to stuff so much into such a short time that he clearly had no idea how to correctly handle the material. Introducing new characters with no time to develop them, juggling multiple story lines with no time to adequately see them through is not the the direction you would want to go with the third film of a trilogy. The same restraint shown in the first two films should have been a key yet again with The Last Stand, but not to tell a methodical story to lead to future films obviously but instead the idea that perhaps the characters the audience has already so deeply invested in should be the focal point of the film, putting the finishing touches on their stories both individually and as a team rather than attempting to introduce anything new when such a thing is unnecessary.

The truth is, solely blaming Ratner for this massive piece of shit film is short-sighted and unfair to the man, even if he clearly wasn't the right man for the job and played a role in the downfall. The script by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn is atrocious, featuring bizarrely terrible dialogue and attempts to be clever that are actually anything but. The ten greatest directors in cinematic history could have combined their efforts to create this X-Men feature and it still wouldn't have stood a chance as long as the screenplay was destined to be this ridiculous and uninspired.

On a performance level The Last Stand failed as well, although this could be due to the minds in charge of the production giving the actors so little to work with to make this turd seem fresh and interesting. Even those performers that we saw bring their skills to the saga during films one and two seem awkward and lost here, like somewhere in their minds even they can't believe they are actually saying these lines and filming these asinine scenes.

In nearly every way and on nearly every level, X-Men: The Last Stand is a failure, a massive disappointment for fans of the comic and films that had been eagerly anticipating the third journey they could take with these characters at the cinema. During only 104 minutes of action packed superhero action, I was honestly quite bored during most of the film, and the only sequences that really grabbed my attention were those that were so unfortunate, I couldn't take my eyes off of them for all of the wrong reasons.

I have seen the early reactions to the upcoming Days of Future Past film, and they have been almost unanimously positive and I noticed one key fact that made me excited. Apparently, this new installment will totally eliminate the events of The Last Stand from ever technically occurring, a way for the studio to separate themselves from the entry that clearly didn't work. Bravo to them, as I anticipate a much cleaner experience in the future when I can pretend this crap never existed in the first place.


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